Synopsis The quiet life of schoolmaster Bill Mor and his wife Nan is disturbed when a young woman, Rain Carter, arrives at the school to paint the portrait of the headmaster. Mor, hoping to enter politics, becomes aware of new desires. A complex battle develops, involving love, guilt, magic, art and political ambition.
Mor’s teenage children and their mother fight discreetly and ruthlessly against the invader. The Head, himself enchanted, advises Mor to seize the girl and run. The final decision rests with Rain.
Can a ‘great love’ be purchased at too high a price?
Bookclub Review Summary:
Mor is an ageing school teacher, and married to a strong and powerful wife. Mor’s is determined despite his wife’s resistance to enter the world of politics as a local MP. The headmaster of the school is retiring and a portrait has been commissioned, Rain Carter, daughter of a famous painter, arrives to paint the portrait. A relationship develops between Rain Carter and Mor. Mor’s obsession, with the young women, leads Mor’s teenage children and their mother to fight discreetly and ruthlessly against the invader. The Headmaster, himself enchanted, advises Mor to seize the girl and run. The final decision rests with Rain.
What the group thought:
The group identified 3 layers within the story; a simple love story progressing to a magical novel and then perhaps a psychological novel. Iris Murdoch constructed this novel well, everything was well planned, the main characters were well developed and the dialogue was realistic. Parts of the book were hilarious as she cleverly wove humor into the story.
The group also felt that Iris Murdoch managed very well, to weave a small amount of Magic into the story with the appearance of the Gypsy, the daughter Felicity’s interest in Magic, and the symbolic tower that Donald tried to climb. This contributed to tension within the book.
The title of the book was of interest to the group i.e. sandcastles break down, and are an illusion, does Iris Murdock associate the title with the main characters? Also the ending was a little bit of a “sandcastle” i.e. Donald running away from home and his mother being suitably fit to give a famous speech whilst their son was missing – is this plausible ? Donald’s safe arrival back home, his sister says “everything will be ok” – is this denial?
Is this story based on a Greek Tragedy? The construction was visible; wife crying, impact on children, outsider leaves and family comes back together again – is this possible?
All taken into account the group enjoyed the book, and rated it … 3 ½ out of 5!