The Sea, the Sea
by Iris Murdoch (prize winner)
There is, perhaps, no greater testament to the ups and downs of love than the diversity of experience represented in the Booker Library. Misadventures, scepticism, devotion - and even joy - are attendant.
Should you find yourself staying in for the night on Valentine’s Day this year, we are here to help you identify the perfect Booker Prize companion, based on your personality type in relationships.
Your love language is being offered food. You stalked your ex-partner a little too closely online after you broke up - but then again, isn’t love what you make of it, really?
Read: The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch
You are unable to justify re-reading Middlemarch for the hundredth time but retain a strong need for historical drama. You cry unashamedly at the end of romantic films.
Dating someone richer than you has, at some point, led you to conclude that Britain is a declining institution. Derek Jarman’s diaries are somewhere within reach on your bookshelf.
The phrase ‘people who live in glass houses should not throw stones’ has been said to you more than once. Your strength of character is somewhat mitigated by the fact that you are incredibly chaotic. In love, as in business, you have high ideals.
You are the sort of person who has ill-advised liaisons at work. Both you, and those watching, live for the intrigue.
Although you appreciate the quieter gestures of love in your life, you found your relationship going stale as a result of lockdown. You are also yearning for a holiday. At heart, you are an optimist.
Men are a waste of time. You know this. Therefore, you have recently become the sort of person who buys themselves flowers for Valentine’s Day. The journey to doing so is still fresh in your mind.
Love is pain and yearning. You commit to this idea passionately. Although you are fairly good-looking and very intelligent, you have not surrounded yourself with a decent enough network of friends to be disabused of that notion.
Valentine’s Day has been a consistently disappointing affair for you each year. You grew up on a diet of Sylvia Plath and David Lynch. Normative family life has left a lot to be desired for you.
Your long-distance relationship means you spend half your life in a different time-zone by way of Skype or Zoom. People have made inane comments about the cultural differences between you and your partner. It is impossible to express quite how trying this is.
Your younger sibling is too invested in your relationship. This has inevitably disastrous consequences.
Quite simply: you love reading about love. You are the sort of person who keeps a diary, and appreciates a bit of mystery in their life. Sending poems or favoured paintings as a sign of affection is not foreign to you.
Your partner would love you to stop over-intellectualising the bouts of mortal dread and joy you’ve had over every interaction in this life. Unfortunately for them, you make a pretty good point.
You have entered your villain era - which would be fine except it’s a lot more pathetic than Taylor Swift led you to believe. The universe has nevertheless seen fit to bless you with a hot, long-suffering wife.
Photographs of the wall of love messages and lockets at Casa di Giulietta, Juliet’s House, Verona © zetwat, Alberto Roseo and Ivansmuk/Getty; Navrolphotography/Alamy. Main photograph © 1973/Getty