The first few opening pages of Iris Murdoch’s Booker Prize winning novel, The Sea The Sea, takes hold of the reader’s imagination and keeps it hostage until the very last page. It is a literary triumph. The novel is told by Charles Arrowby who has chosen to retire from his life as a successful playwright and actor to a house called Shruff End which is by the sea. However, his hopes of living his days out in peace are short-lived as, by writing his diary, he begins to dwell increasingly on his past and, in particular, his first love, Hartley who is now married to another man called Ben. Eventually, his peace is broken as he realises that his lost love is living in the same village and his obsession with reclaiming the love that he believes they once shared begins to engulf him. Ben and Hartley’s adopted son, Titus, makes things even more complicated as he turns up at Arrowby’s house and refuses to go back to his adopted parents. Meanwhile, women from Arrowby’s past keep turning up and causing problems for the ageing playwright. In the past, Arrowby prided himself on being able to get any woman he chose and often did not treat the women he was with with a great deal of love and respect. Now they come back to haunt him while the woman he is so dangerously obsessed with wants nothing to do with him. The novel often takes very strange and mysterious turnings which serve to highlight the psychological melodrama of the situation. Murdoch manages to create a story that, if the reader thought about it logically, is quite unbelievable, and yet still creates suspense and excitement. It’s a novel that you simply cannot put down until you know what is going to happen to its collection of odd characters.