Chosen by Jo
A 1954 book about struggling writer Jake Donaghue. Its mixture of the philosophical and picaresque makes it one of Murdoch’s most popular novels.
© “I loved the ridiculousness of Jake Donaghue’s rambling life of youthful irresponsibility – as far as main characters go he is definitely likeable despite his obvious failings. This book is packed with humorous situations (e.g. dog napping and pub crawls) as well as addressing philosophical questions (e.g. the trap of language) and the fast pace will keep you guessing about what will come next. Iris Murdoch constructs beautiful sentences and defines distinct characters. I loved this book but feel I need to read it again to fully understand and appreciate the philosophical themes as well as the topsy-turvy plot.” – Jo
© “Jack Donaghue exasperated and entertained me in equal measure – like all Murdochian characters!. A broke writer, always in search of a few pennies to buy a drink, Jake sponges off everyone in his life, bouncing around from one person to the next. A manuscript goes missing and the novel is set up around this great quest. Jake gets involved in a number of fantastical capers as he hunts it down, which are all laugh out loud and written with perfect timing and tension, but never predictable. A lot happens in what is a short novel. Setting is important as is timing, and Murdoch portrays the social climate of England and France in the 50s in realistic detail. Another wonderful read by Iris Murdoch.” – Rachel
© “A big and adventurous read – as a reader you’re taken along on a whirlwind with all sorts of implausible coincidences and twists and turns. Because it is Iris Murdoch though it’s all wonderfully done and thoroughly readable and enjoyable. The Sea, The Sea is still my favourite Iris Murdoch novel, but Under the Net was a great read. Mars the dog is a stand-out character.” – Suzy
Chatto & Windus