The Sandcastle by Iris Murdoch
Chatto & Windus (Sep. 1964)
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?
This was the second book by Iris Murdoch that I have read and I was again impressed by the depth of her characters. I enjoyed the interesting love story that was told, and found myself torn between cheering for the institution of marriage and hoping for the opportunity to find happiness. I did not quite understand the back story for Mor's daughter Felicity and how that related to the overall novel - this seemed a bit of a distraction. Overall, I thought that the book was very good and was pleased with another Murdoch read.
On a side note... This was a book borrowed from the library, which is something that I haven't done in many years. The book was first checked out in June of 1978 - when I was two years old. I found myself wondering how many people had read that same book in the past 31 years. I'm sure that there were many that contributed to the torn and stained pages it holds, and I think that the age of the book provided a little nostalgia to the experience. I am going to work hard and try to balance my love for new books and filling my personal shelves, with taking advantage of the library and the unique experience those books have to offer.