An Unoffcial Rose

SnakIris Murdoch readers

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An Unoffcial Rose

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nov 15, 2013, 6:13 pm

I started this a week or so ago as my November Murdoch. Happily this is one of the more comedic variety of Murdochs. It does bring to mind Memento Mori - Muriel Spark's reminder that love and spite do not fade with age..... An Unofficial Rose opens at the graveside of Fanny Perronett, Hugh, her husband looking on dazed by not so much grief for Fanny herself, but the end to a long year of suffering and a long somewhat stifling that he chose twenty or so years earlier to stick with rather than abandon for a woman he had fallen in love with, Emma Sands. His own son Randall is going through something similar now, coincidentally enough, with the beautiful assistant of Emma who writes potboilers. But Randall while an expert on the cultivation of roses and having made some innovations - has lost interest - his wife runs the business - he's lost interest in her as well. He wants to go but Lindsay, his new lover, won't unless he has enough money. Well...... it just so happens that Hugh owns a priceless Tintoretto..... and the fun begins. You know from the moment that the painting is mentioned that it is going to be a central character. To Hugh the painting, voluptuous and sexual, is about the side of himself he never let loose, to most everyone else the painting's main value is not aesthetic. I think I'm about mid-way or slightly past..... and the plot continues to thicken..... surely, as do most of her plots, it will curdle pretty soon.

nov 21, 2013, 8:00 am

Spoilers --- OK, we've got curdling. The painting is gone, Russell and Lindsay are off in sunny Italy, Felix is pining, Miranda fell out of a tree and sprained her ankle. Miranda seems to me like an Emma in the making. A born manipulator, somewhat sociopathic. The lynchpin person, Ann, is wishy-washy - and we're about to get an interesting demonstration of exactly how Ann Perronett may be guilty of what her husband accuses her of - afraid to be happy. But then, maybe Iris will twist things around in some further way, in fact most likely she will. She does seem to imply in other books that happiness is almost a character trait. I wish I'd written more about this one as I was reading it. I kept forgetting to! Things have unfolded more or less the way I expected so far, don't know if that is the result of having read a lot of Murdoch at this point or my own cleverness. I'm near the end, unlikely to finish it today or tomorrow.

nov 21, 2013, 8:01 am

A very very well-done passage - where IM describes the nephew Penn falling in love for the first time. How that love emerges and changes - truly he does become 'a man' while in the throes.

nov 23, 2013, 5:06 pm

I've finished - and I've also noticed that I spelled Unofficial up there wrong...... oh well.....

I would say this IM is a bit of a hybrid, featuring some good (and rather clueless) people (that is the nature of goodness, Iris implies, to be unaware of how others scheme and manipulate) and some quite bad ones..... but it emerges that even they have their torments, being human; the difference is that their response to suffering is to attempt to gain control over others, a child over her dolls and her mother, an elderly woman over everyone close to her.