Charles Arrowby, an aging actor and theater director, retires to a seaside retreat where he encounters lost loves, old friends and enemies, and mysterious monsters that rise from the deep. In Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea, the monsters are real enough, but not necessarily resident in the depths of the ocean. Arrowby narrates the entire novel and he is a tour de force character; he’s incredibly self-centered and almost always totally irritating (I wanted to shake him continuously and tell him to face reality) but he’s also compelling as are his friends, enemies and cousin James.
This was one of the few Iris Murdoch novels I didn’t read during my “Murdoch phase” about a decade ago, and I’m glad I filled that lacuna, because it’s fantastic!
(Read from February 24-March 2, 2010)