Welcome to this month’s #IMReadalong update, where I’m going to start collecting people’s views on “The Bell” (time has told that a good few reviews come in after the end of the month, for reading or reviewing scheduling reasons, and that’s of course FINE) and then share images of my four copies of “A Severed Head” and their blurbs.

“The Bell”

Various people got to discussing “The Bell” as early as my introductory post last month, especially because I was a bit late with my review (I’m starting “A Severed Head” tomorrow to avoid having this issue again). Do have a look at the comments, especially Maria Peacock’s long note.

I had some lovely cover images from Peter Rivenberg which I shared on my review post, and there has been a bit of discussion there. Jo has put up another excellent review on Goodreads and I particularly liked her contrast of Dora and Toby.  Liz also reviewed it on Goodreads and wasn’t so keen – which is fine, of course, and I’m sharing here to reassure anyone else who had trouble with it. Juliana from The Blank Garden has added an amazing discussion on whether IM is a philosophical novelist, centring on this book, here. Any more reviews or links to reviews on people’s blogs and Goodreads accounts will be shared them here when they come in.

So if you have comments to make or links to blog posts to post, you can put them here or (better still) on the review. Oh, and do pop over to my “Flight from the Enchanter” round-up where I’ve just had to add a picture of the very sweet Penguin I acquired the other week.

“A Severed Head”

Moving on to our March read, this is, almost inexplicably, the first Iris Murdoch novel I read, at the age of 14 (an only child who went to an all girls’ school and led a pretty sheltered life), and which got me hooked on IM. What on earth did I make of it? It was loaned to me by my lovely neighbour, Mary, who was a bastion of left-wing, wine-making, vegtable-growing, borrow-any-book-on-my-shelfness who introduced me to so many of my still-favourite authors.

I have four copies: the hardback first edition, a 1964 Penguin whose cover I LOVE, a 1984 Triad Granada which I bought in about 1986, and the new Vintage edition.

I loved reading the blurbs, as they all seem to riff off each other. Here’s the first edition first:

It’s great that it’s so enthusiastic, but the references to Treasure Island and Adolphe I find a little odd.  Moving on to the orange Penguin:

I love the comparison to Jacobean tragedy and Restoration comedy on that one. The Triad Granada was a bit more restrained, but still full of the Daily Mail:

… and the Vintage has a puff from Elizabeth Jane Howard of all people, and a mixture of all the previous blurbs.

So, are you going to be reading or re-reading “A Severed Head” along with me? Which was your first Iris Murdoch novel and which was the one that got you hooked?

You will find a page listing all of these blog posts here, updated as I go along.