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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Vintage Classics Murdoch: Funny, subversive, fearless and fiercely intelligent, Iris Murdoch was one of the great writers of the 20th century. To celebrate her centenary, Vintage Classics presents special editions of her greatest and most timeless novels.

I feel there are demons around.

Everyone is thinking about Julius King. For comfortable, long-married Hilda and Rupert, he is a mystery. For Morgan, Hilda’s tormented sister, he is an obsession. For Morgan’s abandoned husband, Tallis, he is the source of ruin. For Simon and Axel, deeply in love, he stirs up jealousy and unease. What is Julius thinking about? He’s thinking about Hilda, Rupert, Morgan, Tallis, Simon and Axel, and they will not all survive his malevolent attention.

©1970 Iris Murdoch (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about A Fairly Honourable Defeat

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Another richly-rewarding Iris Murdoch novel

Iris Murdoch is a wonderful novelist , and what I think is perhaps most impressive of all is the way she peoples her novels with such extraordinary characters. You get to know them so well, she makes them utterly real for you, so that you really care about them, whether they're appalling people, as in the case of Julius King, or flighty, infuriating, feckless, gullible, likeable but at the same time not at all admirable or likeable (Morgan).
The novel's first part is slow and meticulous, but the author is lighting a very long, slow-burning fuse, so that Part 2 resembles a mad operatic final act, Shakespearian in its scope and depth and, it turns out, tragic, in a way I could never have foreseen.
Part 1 may be slow, requiring some patience on the part of the reader, but towards the end of Part 2 I didn't want the novel to end.
As far as Adams James' narration is concerned, 3 stars out of 5 is the most I could award. His range of voices is excellent, (apart from Leonard - oh dear!) but I do expect ACCURACY from a professional narrator! Too often he doesn't read what the author has written. Sometimes it's a very minor detail (but still annoying), on other occasions he changes an important word so that the meaning is altered. At times I wondered if he needed a new prescription for reading glasses! (I was reading the text on Kindle alongside his narration so I KNOW when he deviated from what Murdoch had written.)

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Mediocre

This might be a good book. But with lacklustre narration it is, at least here, mediocre. Murdoch's dialogue depends on performance especially in its long stretches of philosophy. Everyone here sounds the same apart from the occasional stuttering of Julius, the oddly northern Leonard and the stereotypical camp of Simon. If you want a Murdoch novel try The Sea, The Sea.

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  • Ioana
  • 13-02-21

Midsummer Night’s Dream casted in the 70s

An existentialist farce set in the 70s London. The champions of virtue are duly defeated and only that which is honest pervades. The existentialist Puck/Oberon ends properly on a sunny terrace in Paris, enjoying his lunch, all confusion moves to the States, to teach there, and the moralist - well, accidentally (maybe) drowns in his own pool.