I love that I can get older Kindle and Audio books at the click of a keyboard. Bruno’s Dream was first published in 1969 and is certainly a classic, but that’s no guarantee that it’s available in any of my local bookshops or the local libraries. – I live in a rather poor rural area where there are no bookstores within 50 miles and the library is also very small, only connected to a small network which sometimes has my selections and sometimes not. – I’d rather own the books anyway (as much as you can “own” digital products).
by Iris Murdoch
1969 / 320 pages
read by Simon Prebble 20h 15m
rating – 8.5 / classic 20th century
(read and listened)
The story opens with Bruno in bed at the home of Danby, his son-in-law, although his daughter is dead. Bruno is remem-bering, or “dreaming,” again. He remembers a lot. He remembers his family – his son Miles and his loves and his daughter Gwen and husband Danby. There are difficulties and a lot of sad memories, but there are times when he remembers good things. The first chapter is mostly about love – and the tale of his adulterous affair and how it affected his now deceased wife Janie.
The second chapter is about Danby and from his point of view. He’s a widower who loved his wife, Bruno’s daughter, but is still attractive to women. Danby has now had an affair with Adelaide, the maid, for many years. Before her it was Linda who went back to Australia. Danby has taken over Bruno’s business, printing. He dreams of his wife who drowned.
And in the third chapter we have life from Nigel’s point of view – Nigel is Bruno’s nurse – a very sympathetic and mystical guy who isn’t all he seems –
There are also chapters devoted to Bruno’s son Miles, Bruno’s maid, Adelaide, Will who is Nigel’s brother and others.
The point here is that we all live in the center of our own webs (note the cover art). Bruno feels guilty for something and wants to make amends to Miles, but in Miles’ mind they are estranged for entirely different reasons. Miles has his own life going on and Bruno is not the center of it – maybe Diana is – but Diana has a bit of her own life going on, too. And the primary characters, Bruno, Danby and Miles, all live at least partly in the past – grieving past loves.
There are several complex relationships like this going on. It seems there are so many characters but many names are not active – they just influence the lives of the main characters.
See Character list:
I very much enjoyed the book – it was like a soap opera on the top level, but beneath that there are a lot of references to God and free will as well as love, death, good vs evil and all the usual themes.