Book - An Unofficial Rose




Iris Murdoch - 1964
Penguin Books
ISBN: none
An Unofficial Rose
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The novel begins with the funeral of Fanny Peronett, the wife of Hugh Peronett. Hugh is a retired civil servant whose son Randall owns a successful rose nursery near Romney Marsh. Randall and his wife Ann have a fourteen-year-old daughter, Miranda. Randall is having an affair in London with Lindsay Rimmer, a young woman who is the secretary and companion of Emma Sands, a detective novelist with whom Hugh had had an affair twenty five years earlier. Randall is determined to leave Ann for Lindsay, and asks his father for financial help. Hugh complies by selling a valuable painting and giving the proceeds to Randall. Randall takes Lindsay off to Italy, and asks his wife for a divorce. For emotional and religious reasons she is reluctant to grant his request. Felix Meecham, an army officer and family friend, has been in love with Ann for years. After Randall leaves and asks Ann for a divorce, Felix declares his love and urges her to give up hoping for Randall's return. Ann falls in love with Felix, but her daughter Miranda, who is devoted to her father and is herself secretly in love with Felix, convinces her that she should not marry him. Discouraged by Ann's rejection, Felix decides to take a position in India. Years before, Hugh had broken off his affair with Emma and returned to his wife, but Fanny's death opens up the possibility of his renewing the relationship. He visits Emma in her London flat, where she is always accompanied by Lindsay. After Lindsay's departure Hugh declares his love to Emma, but she refuses him, saying she has already hired another secretary and companion. At the end of the novel, Hugh is on his way to India for a holiday, accompanying Felix and Felix's older sister Mildred, who is in love with Hugh.