I have just started my first ever Iris Murdoch novel, Jackson's Dilemma, reputedly a rather weak place to enter her body of work. It has a distinctively Masterpiece Theatre-ish premise (a sort of "Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie on a bored country house weekend" plot) about a member of the landed gentry who finds himself (How did this happen? He isn't quite sure.) in love and about to marry a young Canadian woman. I gather that something will disrupt the wedding plans, and a certain amount of Jeevesish (or Puckish, or - dare I say - Arielish?) manipulation on the part of an employee named Jackson will be required to bring everyone back into amorous harmony.
I am still just in the opening pages of the novel, but I have already come upon this rather sympathetic description of Penndean, the country house itself (which I always suspect is the main character in the Masterpiece Theatre genre):
Benet was alone in the library. In the library there was silence, as of a huge motionless presence. The books, many of them, were Uncle Tim's books, they had been in their places since Benet was young. Many of the books still glowed, faded a fainter red, a fainter blue, the gold of their titles dusted away, emanating a comforting noiseless breath. Most of Benet's books were still in London. (Why still? Were they planning a sortie to take over the library at Penndean?) Benet's uncle had died leaving Benet so suddenly in absolute possession, here where from childhood he had lived more as a guest or a pilgrim, a seeker for healing [....] The books did not know yet, but they would find out that Tim had gone, really gone away forever. (7-8)It causes me some anxiety to think about what will happen to my books when I die. (I say this to you from the mortality-conscious age of 29.) Will the library be broken up? How will anyone know - really know - what kind of a person I am if my books aren't there, all together, to testify to the two or three thousand facets of my character they represent?