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The Italian Girl Paperback – February 22, 1979
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Top Customer Reviews
Their childhood passed in an alternate frenzy of jealousy and of suffocation from their mother and Edmund feels that, although he didn't return to the house for many years, he never escaped from Lydia, that she got inside him, into the depth of his being and that there was no abyss and no darkness where she was not. And soon Edmund discovers that the remaining relatives still living in the old house are entangled in a web of deceit and false pretence. Flora is pregnant by David Levkin, Otto's apprentice, who is now having an affair with Isabel whereas Elsa, David's sister, is Otto's lover. Edmund quickly realises that his brother Otto, a violently tempered man, has become an alcoholic and he wonders whether he isn't himself rapidly becoming part of "the machine". Soon he feels agitated, exasperated and confused. He finds the whole situation "too scandalous, too outrageous". Edmund is constantly on the brink of leaving, not wanting "to be inside such a circle of hell". But due to his sympathy or weakness, he feels that his presence is needed by both his sister and his niece. But little does he know about the outcome of his stay at the old family house...Read more ›
The Italian Girl tells the story of an unhappy family on the eve of the death of the family matriarch. The characters include a spartan typesetter, two witchy Russian siblings, a disappointed housewife, and (of course) the Italian Girl.
I don't find this novel to be one of her strongest (not compared to books like The Bell or The Sandcastle) but then again, I can't imagine a book of hers that isn't worth reading.
"Edmund Narraway returns to his family home, an old rectory in the north of England, for the cremation of his mother, Lydia. His brother, Otto, probably drunk, starts giggling during the service, and has to be taken outside. Edmund is disgusted rather than scandalised, yet he immediately finds himself fascinated by Otto's daughter, his own niece, who is now a teenager and, for the first time since Edmund last saw her, sexually mature. After the service Isabel, Otto's apparently neurotic wife, attempts to involve Edmund in her small and frustrated life. He at first refuses. When Edmund later talks to his self-pitying brother, he detects evidence of a sexual tension between Otto and his apprentice David Levkin.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This novel of a man's return home after the death of a parent has Murdoch's delicacy of touch and insight into human failure.Published 3 months ago by J. D. Crayne
A study of the human condition, the many layers of this book were fascinating. Told in first person by an uptight and virginal "uncle, " it was interesting to see the changes in... Read morePublished 5 months ago by exceltraveler
I read Murdoch's THE ITALIAN GIRL for the first time when I was twenty-two. Since then (I am now sixty-two and a retired university professor, one of whose areas is the... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Lawrence Kinsman
I very much enjoyed The Italian Girl (1964), Iris Murdoch's eighth novel, which is about Edmund, a middle aged bachelor returning to his hometown to attend the funeral of his... Read morePublished 16 months ago by M. Buzalka
The intricate relationships and emotions all on display for all to see with an author's eye. Many segues veer off course and Edmund is brave, stupid, loving, perplexed. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Gladys Tripp
Not easily read, but a good example of the writings of Iris Murdoch. Her writing stands apart in its style, and the telling of this story is morbidly fascinating. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Sheryl W.