Monday, January 25, 2010

The Bell

I am a week or so overdue in reviewing The Bell by Iris Murdoch.

Product Information:
320 pages
Pengion Classics, 2nd Edition (Nov. 2001)
Personal Copy Synopsis: A lay community of thoroughly mixed-up people is encamped outside Imber Abbey, home of an order of sequestered nuns. A new bell is being installed when suddenly the old bell, a legendary symbol of religion and magic, is rediscovered. And then things begin to change. Meanwhile the wise old Abbess watches and prays and exercises discreet authority. And everyone, or almost everyone, hopes to be saved, whatever that may mean. Originally published in 1958, this funny, sad, and moving novel is about religion, sex, and the fight between good and evil.

My thoughts: I think that I may have found a new author to love. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I purchased the Book Lust Journal, whose author Nancy Pearl recommended Murdoch. I was not disappointed. The writing was superb and I became engrossed by the characters Michael and Dora. Michael, whose character you may dislike on moral grounds, still sparked compassion from me. And Dora, poor Dora, I longed for her to be strong and make the right decisions.

Two quotes which stood out to me:

The talk of lovers who have just declared their love is one of life's most
sweet delights. Each vies with the other in humility, in amazement at being so

This quote brought me back to the early days of dating my husband. Nothing feels better than knowing that you are loved. Although that love still continues on, sometimes I long for a few hours of that 'young love' once again.

One must perform the lower act which one can manage and sustain; not the higher act which one bungles.

I struggle with this concept - how are we to learn and do new things, if we don't try that higher act, which we might just bungle? But I have to admit, it is often easier to maintain the status quo.

I was pleased with how Murdoch summed up the story for all of the characters and I am now searching for my next choice of Murdoch's 25 remaining novels.

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