Charles Arrowby, leading light of England's theatrical set, retires from glittering London to an isolated home by the sea. He plans to write a memoir about his great love affair with Clement Makin, his mentor both professionally and personally, and to amuse himself with Lizzie, an actress he has strung along for many years. None of his plans work out, and his memoir evolves into a riveting chronicle of the strange events and unexpected visitors--some real, some spectral--that disrupt his world and shake his oversized ego to its very core.
In exposing the jumble of motivations that drive Arrowby and the other characters, Iris Murdoch lays bare "the truth of untruth"--the human vanity, jealousy, and lack of compassion behind the disguises they present to the world. Played out against a vividly rendered landscape and filled with allusions to myth and magic, Charles's confrontation with the tidal rips of love and forgiveness is one of Murdoch's most moving and powerful tales.