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Family Business Reviews

Family Business by Peter J. Conradi

Family Business

Peter J. Conradi

4.00 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Seren
Publisher: Poetry Wales Press
Publication date: 3 Jun 2019
ISBN: 9781781725016

Peter J. Conradi's memoir Family Business includes a cast of characters ranging from his European Jewish forebears who came to Britain in the Victorian era to influential novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch, whose biography Conradi himself wrote. The arc of Conradi's story travels, unusually, from the relative integration of his ancestors to his rebellion against this and his long association with Murdoch, another outsider in English society.

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4 stars out of 5
Caroline Sanderson
8 Mar 2019

"(a) multi-stranded and deeply thoughtful memoir"

As well as being Iris Murdoch's biographer, Conradi was her disciple and close friend, and towards the end of her life, her carer. In Murdoch's centenary year, this multi-stranded and deeply thoughtful memoir provides a more much personal account of their friendship than his official biography could. It takes in Conradi's upbringing in an upwardly mobile European Jewish family, his life in London as a gay man before homosexuality was decriminalised, his part in the early campaigns for gay rights, becoming a Buddhist, and finding peace in the Welsh Marches.


4 stars out of 5
Ysenda Maxtone Graham
21 Jun 2019

"I recommend this book, because he writes thoughtfully and well"

Even if you don’t think you want to know about Conradi’s forebears, and aren’t particularly keen on raking over various niggling confusions and clarifications to do with his 2001 biography of Murdoch, I recommend this book, because he writes thoughtfully and well. Born on VE Day, he has clearly been thinking too hard, and worrying too much, since the age of about two. Growing up as the son of warring parents, he writes:‘I acquired a lifelong tendency to hyper-vigilance: looking for danger.’ He quotes Henry James: ‘I have the imagination of disaster.’

4 stars out of 5
19 May 2019

"a very personal, cultivated and richly documented story... fascinatingly frank"

Family Business, out in June, is less chronological narrative, more a pot pourri of past and present, a very personal, cultivated and richly documented story — or perhaps quest  — through seven decades that shook social convention like a wet dog. ... In the biography of Murdoch he published two years after her death, Conradi exercised protective caution; 18 years on, his aperçus on the novelist whose towering oeuvre spanned 20 years, are fascinatingly frank, offering glimpses of her open marriage, her many affairs with men and women, her view that one could love multiple people at once but that each should, as Bayley chronicled, be special and separate, as innocent as in the Garden of Eden.