3* (out of 5*)

To anyone out there who has picked this up as an introduction to Iris Murdoch, I say prevail…this is only her first novel.     

Having finished Under the Net and now had a couple of days to think about it, I am glad this is not the first of Iris Murdoch’s books I’ve read – I probably would not have picked up another one. Over the past two days, I kept re-reading parts of it because I felt like I missed a part of the book. I double-checked but I can’t see any pages sticking together or missing:


We have the story of Jake, who is a young writer getting by with the support of his friends. One day he meets Hugo and is so impressed by their discussion that he uses the idea in a book. The book sells and Jake now fears that Hugo might find out Jake stole his idea. 

Then there is the complication of the love interests, which is confusing for all four characters involved.

And lastly there is the issue of kidnapping a film star dog, which seems to go largely unnoticed.

So, there isn’t much of a plot, only a series of events which may or may not be of importance – depending on the characters’ perspectives.

As puzzled as I am by this book, I would call Under the Net a study of misunderstanding everything, but maybe that is what this is about: Jake tries to give meaning to the events of his life, but the more context builds around the events the clearer it becomes that this is futile. I’m never on steady ground with Murdoch which is why her novels still intrigue me.