©1994 Leaftree Limited; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Howatch simultaneously provides her listener with both marvelous entertainment and genuine insight into the human condition. Highly recommended." (Library Journal)
"This work again displays Howatch's ability to meld an involving, character-driven story with a larger theme, that of spiritual quest and fulfillment." (Publishers Weekly)
This is my first attempt in my current plan to listen to all of these books that I can find in audio format this year. I have, for no logical reason started with the last book. (!) It's a variation of the old "Read the Last Page of the Book Syndrome."
Audible has Glamorous Powers, Mystical Paths and Scandalous Risks as well as this one available. I plan to buy one each month. Glimmering Images and Ultimate Prizes are available at outrageous prices in cassette tape format. I think I will pass on them but I will reread them in book format.
I re-read these books every once in a while. I am always amazed at how much I am attracted to these books because they are not the kind of books that generally appeal to me. I think it's the writing. Susan Howatch is a magical writer. I don't really like the characters in these books or am in sympathy with the things they do. But the honesty of these people's faith and the fact that they really really try to be good Christians comes shining through. It's almost enough to restore one's faith in Christianity.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
In a series that I really, really liked, this is the the best book. It is not often that the last book in a series is the best, but in this case it is. Unfortunately you cannot read the last book as a stand alone novel and get the entire weight of the book. You can read it as a stand alone book. But because these books are all narrataed by a single character, you will not get the understanding of the other characters that are detailed in the prior books.
In this book Charles Ashworth, the original protagonist at the beginning of the series, takes up his life in the 1960s. He is now Bishop of Starbridge. His two boys are now on their own. He and his wife Lyle get along better than in most of their marriage (and they realize that having an empty nest is a good thing.) On the negative side, Neville (enemy would be too strong, but they do not get along) is the Dean of the Cathedral and somewhat independent of Charles' authority. His spiritual director and friend is aging and probably near death. It is at this point that Charles' third major life crisis occurs and he is totally unprepared to deal with it.
I like Charles much more in this book than the first. I understand his lostness here more than in the first book. It is not a break with reality as much as a crisis of faith. Not so much in God, but in the way he understands God and Charles' own role in life.
I stumbled across this book initially quite by accident. I was in high school and was at the library looking for some books on famous cathedrals. For some reason, this book was included in the search and the description was intriguing enough to make me give it a chance.
It is now one of my all time favorite books. I read it at least once a year, which is now difficult since I have a young son. So I downloaded an audio copy and I have listened to it numerous times. The narrative is soothing and enjoyable.
Charles Ashworth's story is full of tragedy and personal growth. Growing up in an extremely religious community, I am able to relate to the Charles Ashworth we meet at the beginning of the story -- completely set in his ways. And while my heart hurts for him as he suffers through each personal tragedy, his personal growth and maturity (even late in life) warms my heart every time. Each time I read/listen to this work, I find a new part that strikes me as profound.
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