I’ve never read a novel by Murdoch before, and after the News of the World debacle I doubt I ever will now.
So, I’d never read a Murdoch novel before, and this is hardly one of the more famous ones (It doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Not even a stub!). Nonetheless, I came across it for a quid in a second hand shop, and it looked pretty attractive, so I bought it. The cover is mostly black, with a reserved white typeface, and a beautiful Munch lithograph on the front.
The story is classic gothic fairy tale in its basic construction. (Maid) Marian is fresh out of uni, and takes up a position at Gaze Castle, which is basically in the middle of a sea of bog miles from any other habitation (bar one house). She is to be the lady companion of a neurotic and damaged woman, who is essentially imprisoned in the castle by a powerful man, dark and moody. There are various other characters (a scary housekeeper, an outsider ally, and others), but these are the primary players. The history of the place gradually reveals itself to Marian and to us, and is full of forbidden sexual encounters (I quite like the portrayal of gaiety in the novel, though it’s ludicrously over the top [not that that is out of keeping with the rest of the novel]) and attempted murder.
Things fall apart. Everyone (well, not quite everyone) dies. It’s great:)