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Publisher's Summary

Martin Lynch-Gibbon believes he can possess both a beautiful wife and a delightful lover. But when his wife, Antonia, suddenly leaves him for her psychoanalyst, Martin is plunged into an intensive emotional re-education. He attempts to behave beautifully and sensibly. Then he meets a woman whose demonic splendour at first repels him and later arouses a consuming and monstrous passion. As his Medusa informs him, 'this is nothing to do with happiness'.
©2011 Iris Murdoch (P)2011 Random House Audio Go
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By Ilana on 07-22-12

Absurd and Very Funny

Martin is quite pleased with his situation: a beautiful wife, Antonia, whom he adores, and a much younger mistress, Georgie, to keep things that much more interesting and make him feel like a "real" man. But when his wife announces that she's leaving him for her psychoanalyst who also happens to be Martin's friend, Palmer Anderson, Martin's perfect world suddenly collapses; only things are about to get messier and messier. Because both Antonia and Palmer fully intend to keep Martin in their lives, whether he likes it or not, and it soon becomes quite clear that Martin is probably the least deviant individual in what turns out to be a very amusing comedy of the absurd. This first experience with this author definitely made me want to read more of Murdoch's work, something I look forward to with relish. The cherry on the sundae was the narration by the brilliant Derek Jacobi.

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By The Aardvark on 06-18-15

Intellectuals behaving badly!

What made the experience of listening to A Severed Head the most enjoyable?

The combination of Iris Murdoch's writing with Derek Jacobi's brilliant reading.

What did you like best about this story?

The unpredictability and the humour.

What about Derek Jacobi’s performance did you like?

Derek Jacobi had the perfect voice for these characters! He really captured their personalities.

Any additional comments?

I've read this book but this audible book was one of those rare events where you get even more from hearing it, mainly because of Derek Jacobi's brilliant performance.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful


By Karen on 01-04-13

Could listen to this all over again

Like all self-centred people, Martin Lynch-Gibbon inhabits a world unaffected by the feelings or thoughts of others until one day he is exposed and forced to accept that the people he believed he knew so well have secret layers too. Some of the characters in this story, wonderfully brought to life by Derek Jacobi, are hilarious, especially when he adopts the whining and manipulative persona of Martin's wife, Antonia. It transpires that she is the person who wants it all but would also like everyone else to be civil while she goes about getting it. I found myself switching sides. While very witty, the insightful Iris Murdoch also captures the emotional tenderness of love, longing and the pain wrought by betrayal.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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By Lachlan on 07-25-15

Farce in all its glory

Iris Murdoch has written a ridiculous soapie before they were even invented! For sleep inducing it was ideal.

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