Thursday, July 30, 2020

A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch on Book Beginnings

Another summer week is rolling by. This one feels like it has gone so fast. It's the first really warm week of the summer here in Portland, Oregon, with our first run of days over 90 degrees. That may sound funny, since it will be August this weekend, but this is a chilly, damp corner of the country. And as soon as summer finally arrives, we complain that it is too hot. Oregonians!


It's time to share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are enjoying this week. Leave a link to your post below. If you post on social media, please use the hashtag #bookbeginnings so we can find each other. 


I'm reading A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch this week. It's her 5th novel, published in 1961. 

"You're sure she doesn't know," said Georgie.

"Antonia? About us? Certain."

A Severed Head starts off with a common Murdoch set up. Martin Lynch-Gibbon is perfectly happy married to his wife Antonia with his girlfriend Georgie on the side. His girlfriend knows about his wife but his wife doesn't know about his girlfriend. Murdoch likes to squeeze every drop she can get from this arrangement.

From the back cover, I know the story is going to go a different direction when Martin's wife leaves them for a mutual friend who is also her psychoanalyst. Looks like this one could get fun. 


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Every Friday, Freda's Voice hosts another weekly blog event called The Friday 56. Participants share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 (or the electronic equivalent) of the book they are enjoying. Visit Freda's blog for details and to share your post.


I loved her with a wild undignified joy, and also with a certain cheerful brutality, both of which were absent from my always more decorous, my essentially sweeter relationship with Antonia. I adored Georgie too for her dryness, her toughness, her independence, her lack of intensity, her wit, and altogether for her being such a contrast, such a compliment, to the softer and more moist attractions, the more dewy radiance of my lovely wife.

Iris Murdoch is one of my favorite authors. Any other fans? I am trying to read all of her fiction. I keep a list of her books here and keep track of those I read. 


  1. I haven't read anything by this author, but this book looks pretty interesting. Enjoy your current read!

  2. It sounds as though Martin is one of those people who wants to 'have his cake and eat it!' I really do hope he gets his comeuppance!

    Murdoch is one of those 'classic' authors I have never got around to reading, at least not that I can remember, as this sounds like the kind of book my mum would have read, and I did used to 'borrow' her library books when she wasn't looking, as our library would only allow children to progress to the adult side of the building from a certain age, and I was ready long before that time!

    I really like that cover art too, it sums up the storyline beautifully :)

  3. I'm an Iris Murdoch fan too. I read The Severed Head some years ago and I thought it would make a good farce - it really does get chaotic - and then I discovered that Iris Murdoch had adapted her book for the stage!

  4. That does seem like a lot of fun! I've never read anything by Iris Murdoch, will have a look. I love her writing style. The vocabulary is gorgeous.

    Thanks for sharing this and for hosting Book Beginnings. Always fun!

    Have a good weekend. I've add my link to the link up.

  5. Wow, that cover is not what I would expect with that title! Sounds like an interesting one. Hope you enjoy your reading!

  6. From the description, it sounds like an intriguing book. Have a great weekend!

  7. I actually have heard of this book, but never read it. It does sound like a great set up!

  8. Probably not for me. Happy weekend!!


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