Taking his cue from The Tempest's Prospero, playwright and director Charles Arrowby leaves London for retirement in a coastal village to 'abjure magic and become a hermit'. Both seduced and unnerved by his new setting, he begins a journey of self-discovery by writing the story of his colourful theatrical life. Finding himself in the same village as Mary Hartley, the first love of his adolescence whom he perceives is now locked in a brutal marriage, he becomes obsessed with the idea of forcing her to elope with him. The Sea, The Sea is uncompromisingly intelligent in scope and execution, superbly paced yet full of unexpected turns and quirks. It is also incisive on the issue of moral goodness, a subject to which Iris Murdoch devoted so much of her life both as a writer and as a philosophy don at Oxford. This Folio Society 2009 edition, with haunting illustrations by Tatsuro Kiuchi and an introduction by John Sutherland, is a welcome reminder of why her literary standing remains so high. Booker Prize Winner 1978. This hardback has no inscriptions or bookplates and is beautifully bound in blue, decorated buckram. There is a superb frontispiece and a further eight colour illustrations. The slipcase, however, is rather dirty, scuffed and marked, front and back.