The Nice and the Good, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


A work of coruscating moral brilliance, The Nice and the Good revolves around a happily married couple, Kate and Octavian, and the friends of all ages attached to their house in Dorset.

The novel deals with love in its many aspects, as embodied in a fascinating array of characters.

The resonant sub plot involves murder and black magic in Whitehall, as the novel leads us through stress and terror to a profoundly joyous conclusion.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780099285267

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I love the first sentence: "A head of a department, working quietly in his room in Whitehall on a summer afternoon, is not accustomed to being disturbed by the nearby and undubitable sound of a revolver shot." As with most of Murdoch's novels, there are many characters and various intertwined relationships, so it can be a bit hard to follow, but it's worth the slow read. There's humour with a touch of darkness.

Review by

** SPOILER ALERT ** "Theo had begun to glimpse the distance which separates the nice from the good, and the vision of this gap had terrified his soul".Here, on the second page from the end, is the sentence which really sums up the whole book. Throughout, we see characters trying to be good yet feeling unfulfilled, and characters trying to be 'nice' and failing to be good. Set against the backdrop of a Whitehall thriller, mixed in with murder and the occult, you have 'The Nice and the Good'.The message is not perhaps particularly inflammatory, yet what Iris Murdoch does is to highlight a group of people and explore how each individual struggles with the conundrum of being 'nice' or 'good'. Some choose to be simply 'nice' - entertaining, pleasant company but ultimately shallow and self-centered - while others attempt to be 'good'. Often they fail, and suffer in the attempt, but they come across ultimately as much more sympathetic.All the characters, moreover, are fully-formed and believable people. Even the dog and the cat have distinct personalities.I would definitely read this book again and recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading. It is not too hard a read, nor is it swamped by its message, but it remains with you long after the last page.

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