Maybe, when I've got time, I'll slowly review all the Iris Murdoch novels I've ever read; a daunting task (not as daunting as writing them must have been, though.
A FAIRLY HONOURABLE DEFEAT I read every Murcoch as it appeared in the bookshops and read this one when I was about 30; I re-read it recently to see if it had changed in my eyes and mind. Actually, I was surprised at how much I 'missed' the first time round and knowing the end (which I won't spoil for you) didn't matter at all, especially as I could not remember it perfectly. I knew what the tragedy was, but could not recall who befell it! I understood more of her philosophical insertions, and clearly saw how she was 'puppet master'. Murdoch was always my first love as an author and did not lose her currency as the count of books went up and up. If you've never read one of her books, choose from the early to middle period, as the later period is heavy and deteriorates, understandably towards the very end of her life (UK 1970)