n Iris Murdoch's 1954 debut novel, Jake Donaghue is an engaging young writer. In his overintellectualized angst, Jake details a convoluted romantic impossibility--he loves Anna, who loves Hugo, who loves Sadie, who loves Jake. His betrayal of his best friend's trust, his emotional indifference in most of his relationships, and his failed first book eventually leave Jake in existential hell. Samuel West's performance is nicely understated. His intelligent reading turns Jake and Hugo's somber discussions of philosophy and metaphysics into exercises in wit. Jake offers that everything "is made up of moments, which pass and become nothing." West delivers Jake's discoveries, not as grim, but as the ramblings of a young artist in search of himself.