Widower's House: A Study in Bereavement, Or how Margot and Mella Forced Me to Flee My Home

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 246 pages
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Little did retired professor John Bayley realize when he lost Iris Murdoch, his beloved wife of forty-four years, that life would never be the same again. First came thousands of sympathy notes from lovers of Murdoch's novels and fans of Bayley's own poignant memoir, Elegy for Iris. But more alarming were the hundreds of calls from seemingly well-meaning women, many of whom rang Bayley's doorbell in Oxford, bearing cakes, casserole dishes, and delivering pep talks designed to cheer up the widower of their dreams.Here, in Widower's House: A Study in Bereavement or How Margot and Mella Forced Me to Flee My Home, Bayley tells the painful, inspirational, and ultimately uplifting story of how he had to grapple with his fate as a man by beginning life anew in his mid-seventies. Like millions of other widows and widowers, Bayley, as he relates it, found himself emotionally unprepared for the responsibilities and burdens that confront people who suddenly find themselves alone. He hadn't realized how differently you are treated when you are not part of a couple, and how you must learn to respond to friends, family members, and total strangers in completely different ways.With the reassuring, compassionate voice of Iris still a mournful obbligato in the background, Bayley describes the pitfalls a widower must face as he ventures out into the newly virgin world beyond his front door. Finding comfort in recording the day-to-day calamities that marked his reentry into the real world, Bayley uses surprising humor--reflected here in the vivid depictions of his new suitors, Margot and Mella--to get him through his darkest days.Melodic, irrepressible, and comically comforting, Widower's House, with its heartwarming and surprisingly romantic ending, will reveal yet a new side of the man who has become England's most unlikely symbol of masculine virility.

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WIDOWER'S HOUSE: A Study in Bereavement (or How Margot and Mella Forced Me to Flee My Home)

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The memoirs of an acidic curmudgeon and widower.After his beloved wife Iris Murdoch died, Bayley (Iris and Her Friends, 1999, etc.) was besieged by well-wishers offering assistance and companionship ... Read full review

Widower's house: a study in bereavement, or how Margot and Mella forced me to flee my home

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Bayley, an accomplished literary critic and Oxford don, was married to the novelist Iris Murdoch for 44 years. Following Elegy for Iris (LJ 12/98) and Iris and Her Friends (LJ 10/15/99), this memoir ... Read full review

Selected pages


Margot at Home
Mella and the Mermaid
Comedie Francaise
The Falling Snow
Walls and WallBanging
Words and Books
Belial and His Friends
The Return of Margot and Mella
Leaving Home

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About the author (2001)

John Oliver Bayley was born on March 27, 1925 in Lahore, India. He was educated at Eton College and Oxford University and served in the Grenadier Guards during World War II. He became a fellow of New College at Oxford in 1955, teaching English, and later joined the faculty of St. Catherine's College, Oxford, in 1973. He was a literary critic and author. His works included The Power of Delight, Tolstoy and the Novel, Shakespeare and Tragedy, and The Red Hat. He wrote three memoirs involving his life from when his wife, novelist Iris Murdoch, was struck by Alzheimer's disease until after her death. The memoirs were entitled Elegy for Iris, Iris and Her Friends: A Memoir of Memory and Desire, and Widower's House: A Study in Bereavement, or How Margot and Mella Forced Me to Flee My Home. Elegy for Iris was adapted into a film entitled Iris. He was a frequent contributor to several publications including The Times Book Review and The New York Review of Books. He died from heart insufficiency on January 12, 2015 at the age of 89.

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