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The Booker Prize-winning masterpiece from one of the twentieth century's most important and entertaining writers


When Charles Arrowby retires from his glittering career in the London theatre, he buys a remote house on the rocks by the sea. He hopes to escape from his tumultuous love affairs but unexpectedly bumps into his childhood sweetheart and sets his heart on destroying her marriage. His equilibrium is further disturbed when his friends all decide to come and keep him company and Charles finds his seaside idyll severely threatened by his obsessions.


There is no doubt in my mind that Iris Murdoch is one of the most important novelists now writing in English...The power of her imaginative vision, her intelligence and her awareness and revelation of human truth are quite remarkable

The Times

Dazzlingly entertaining and inventive

The Times

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    September 3, 1999

    Vintage Classics

    560 pages

    RRP $14.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    May 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    560 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Iris Murdoch

The Sea, The Sea & A Severed Head
Living on Paper
The Sea, The Sea (Vintage Summer)
Jackson's Dilemma
The Sacred And Profane Love Machine
The Black Prince
The Bell
Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals
The Book And The Brotherhood
An Accidental Man
The Sandcastle
A Word Child
The Time Of The Angels
Henry And Cato
A Fairly Honourable Defeat
The Red And The Green
Under The Net
A Severed Head
Nuns And Soldiers
The Unicorn
An Unofficial Rose
Bruno's Dream


To Kill A Mockingbird
The Handmaid's Tale
Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Crimes of the Father
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: A Play
The Old Man and the Sea
Brave New World
Slaughterhouse 5
Nineteen Eighty Four
Into the Water
Best Laid Plans
Night School
The Woolgrower's Companion
The Traitorâ??s Girl
After You
Lake Hill
The Light Between Oceans
Congo Dawn
Anything Is Possible