A lay community of thoroughly mixed-up people is encamped outside Imber Abbey, home of an enclosed order of nuns. A new bell, legendary symbol of religion and magic, is rediscovered. Dora Greenfield, erring wife, returns to her husband. Michael Mead, leader of the community, is confronted by Nick Fawley, with whom he had disastrous homosexual relations, while the wise old Abbess watches and prays and exercises discreet authority. And everyone, or almost everyone, hopes to be saved whatever that may mean... Iris Murdoch's funny and sad novel is about religion, the fight between good and evil and the terrible accidents of human frailty.
©2011 Iris Murdoch (P)2011 Random House Audio Go
Philosophical, spiritual, relationships. This was one of my favourite books of the 60s, beautifully read.
Women in Love - for the intense relationships, contemporary issues (of that time), and spiritual dimension.
The world and its problems impinge on a religious community
I can't really imagine a film being made of The Bell - this book explores the inner lives of characters, perhaps too much for modern tastes. In some ways the novel has dated obviously, but this did not worry me, since I was so fond of it from way back.
Dora Greenfield leaves her husband because she is afraid of him. She then returns to him for the same reason. At this point her husband Paul (a very unpleasant man) is living in a community near Imber Abbey. When Dora arrives at the community it appears that hers is the only unhealthy relationship, however that's not quite the case.
The story is at times disturbing as we see characters behaving badly and justifying it to themselves and others. Together they manage to remain blind to the worst of their hypocrisies.
Murdoch's writing is beautiful and a pleasure to listen to. I would highly recommend her books to everyone who enjoys great writing. If you've enjoyed Austen, the Brontes and Virginia Woolf you will love Iris Murdoch. Her style is exceptional.
Miriam Gargoyles is the perfect choice to narrate this book. She has the right accent and tone to match this classic. Her timing is spot on.
Apart from minor issues the sound is good quality. Occasionally the sound will be only from one channel and switch between left and right. It's infrequent and while distracting it doesn't last long. There's other rare distortion, but don't let the relatively minor sound quality issues put you off. The rest of the recording has been cleaned up beautifully. It's worth putting up with the minor sound issues in order to have the pleasure of this incredible read.
What an odd and delightful mind Iris Murdoch had. Her intelligent writing, beautifully descriptive prose and colourful imagination make her stories unique, and read by Miriam Margoyles this was pure joy. I agree with the previous reviewer, if Miriam had narrated all of Murdoch's books, I would download them all. I pitied poor Dora in the possession of such an appalling husband......but presented at a time when women had fewer choices she tries her best to rebel.
"This is a pleasure!"
Margolyse should read every Murdoch novel - her voice catches the comedy and the cleverness: note perfect.
"My first Iris Murdoch, am now a huge fan"
The amazing descriptive language. It's all it's quite beautiful.
Miriam Margolyes makes this story for me. The range of different voices and characterations she brings to the narration is amazing. I just love her.
This book reflects the attitudes of the time, however, the opening chapters which describe married life for a young woman, are so well written and structured it struck such a chord.
"Vanity betrayal and live"
The Bell is about many things, including the vanity of religiosity, betrayal, and love.
The story has engaging characters and story well narrated by Miriam M
"Showing its age..."
Probably. Miriam Margoyles is a marvellous reader. I used to be a fan of Iris Murdoch, but the story seemed very slow and clumsy now.
I'd be interested to see if any others I'd read years ago still stood the test of time.
Dora - although she was a bit weedy!
In short. No!
Worth reading if you've never come across Iris Murdoch before, or as a study in time. But not a gripping plot!
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.