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The Sandcastle Paperback – March 30, 1978


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (March 30, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140014748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140014747
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Of the novelists who have made their bow since the war she seems to be the most remarkable.” —Raymond Mortimer

From the Inside Flap

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) was one of the most influential British writers of the twentieth century. She was awarded the 1978 Booker Prize for The Sea, The Sea, won the Royal Society Literary Award in 1987, and was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1987 by Queen Elizabeth. Her final years were clouded by a long struggle with Alzheimer's before her passing in 1999.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Schweitzer on May 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've always liked this novel, though it isn't what I would call Murdoch's best. I found it to be much gentler than her other novels: there isn't any of the astounding weirdness of The Good Apprentice or The Severed Head: no incest, no murder, no wife-swapping.
As a result, it is an interesting novel to read for the change of pace it offers in the body of her work. It offers perhaps a subtler take on repeated Murdochian themes of betrayl and alienation--artistic, intellectual, marital, sexual, and so forth.
I have always wondered why A.S. Byatt chose to highlight The Sandcastle in her book about women's writing _Imagining Characters_; perhaps Byatt sees some of the same qualities in the story that I do.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on February 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
The last novel by Iris Murdoch which I reviewed for this site, "An Unofficial Rose", has a particularly complex plot, detailing a complicated web of emotional entanglements among a large group of characters. "The Sandcastle", published a few years earlier, is also a psychological study of love and desire, but with a much simpler plot and a much smaller cast of characters.

The central figure is William Mor, a middle-aged schoolmaster at a public school in Surrey, who is considering standing as the Labour candidate for the neighbouring constituency at the next election. (It is described as a safe Labour seat, although in reality Surrey is, and was even in the fifties, a stronghold of the Conservative Party). He is married with two teenage children, but the marriage is not a happy one; Mor's wife Nan is a cold, domineering personality who is fiercely opposed to her husband's political ambitions. Mor meets, and falls in love with, Rain Carter, a young painter who has come to the school to paint a portrait of Demoyte, the school's former Headmaster, and discovers that his feelings for her are returned. He therefore needs to decide whether to leave his wife for Rain, knowing that if he does so this is likely to spell the end of his career at the school and of his ambitions to enter Parliament.

The significance of the book's title becomes clear in a scene where Rain is telling Mor about her childhood. She grew up in the South of France, where she attempted to build a sandcastle on the beach, as she had seen children doing in pictures of England. The Mediterranean sand, however, proved too dry, and her sandcastle collapsed in a heap.
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Format: Paperback
The Sandcastle, Iris Murdoch's third novel, is certainly her most assured if not her best to that point. The plot is tight as a drum, revolving around the love affair between Mor, a married, middle-aged schoolmaster at a public boys school in England, and Rain, a young artist commissioned to paint the portrait of the school's former headmaster. In the background are some interesting supporting characters, especially Mor's manipulative wife Nan and Bledyard, the school's art teacher, who has some unexpected depths.

Murdoch also introduces a bit of the supernatural with a mysterious tramp who crops up from time to time to lend an air of ominousness, and the dabblings in the occult by Mor's 14-year-old daughter Felicity, who also seems to have a couple of invisible "friends," including a ghost dog and a boy named Angus. I would have liked to hear more about Felicity but Murdoch concentrates her narrative on the relationship of Mor and Rain.

The book winds up with a couple of incredibly realized scenes of great dramatic power that are masterfully described, followed by a somewhat conventional denouement. All in all a very enjoyable read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Iris Murdoch was a brilliant, yet deeply tormented novelist...If you like English novels, her work is teriffic. In the modern sense, may may find it slow reading...but so is Moby Dick. If you are studying the Brisitsh novel, her work is seminal.
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0 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Haldane on December 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
My first Iris Murdoch, due to her reputation I expected quality literature,but dear me, it was like reading a mills & boon, such empty boring characters sooo predictable I hope her other books are better & that her reputation is deserved, but I shan't be finding out, there's plenty other fish in the sea. The only reason I gave it 2 stars is for the portrayal of Upper Middle Class English Culture of the 50's YAWN...
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