The action of Iris Murdoch's second novel, following Under the Net, becomes more and more enveloped, like a Cocteau film, in a strang mist of unreality, in which the enigmatic and enchanting Mischa Fox seems to hold the principal characters transfixed with one blue eye and one brown. Like flies entangled in a web of dark fears and illusions. these pathetic victims of their own past are dragged in the wake of an absurd but tragic destiny.
One hardly knows whether to laugh or to cry over the antics of little Annette, skipping like a lamb into the Wonderland of London - the School of Life - and tripping into the pit of despair; or the foolishness of John Rainborough, ineffective financial head of SELIB; or the awkward, anxious gestures of Rosa, mistress of two Polish brothers. For there is a despairing undertone in the most ludicrous inventions of this imaginative and intelligent writer.
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