From the elderly widower, Hugh, to his granddaughter, Miranda, the major characters in "An Unofficial Rose" are all looking for love; and so closely is the web woven that the actions and passions of each are constantly affecting the others.
Hugh meditates returning to his former mistress. His son, Randall, dreams of abandoning his shapeless marriage for a perfect partner. Randall's young daughter, Miranda, is adored by her Australian cousin Penn, but has relentless attachments elsewhere. Randall's wife Ann, the central character, takes upon herself the strains and pains of all the others, while being the victim of her own private dream. The irony and pathos of this tangled situation has extended Iris Murdoch's powers to the full, but her mastery of it is complete. Impelled by affection, lust, illusion, and dissolution, wanting to be free yet needing to be involved, these characters perform the linked figures of their destiny.