Saturday, November 5, 2016

Glittering Images

A hefty novel by Susan Howatch, Glittering Images is all about the dangers of facade; especially if we believe our own facade, losing sight of our true self. Charles Ashworth, a young Anglican clergyman on the fast track to success is given an odd assignment by the Archbishop of Canterbury; see if there is possibility of scandal within the unusual living arrangements of the Bishop of Starbridge. That Bishop, Adam Alexander Jardine, is charismatic and proud, living with his ineffectual wife Carrie and her companion, the competent, gorgeous Lyle Christie. 

I had real trouble getting through this book. I didn't find the characters likeable or relatable nor was their behavior believable. Toward the end of the first part I considered putting it away without finishing it, something I never do. I'm glad I stuck with it. The characters were written as they were because they were playing a part, so to speak. They were trying to hide their true selves so their glittering images would be all anyone saw. But the real man kept jumping out. Also, if I had quit reading at part I, I would have missed the best part of the book. Charles undergoes a Spiritual crisis and makes a lengthy retreat at an Anglican Monastery receiving Spiritual direction from the Abbot, Jonathan Darrow (far and away my favorite character).  Part 2, the Spiritual direction, is worth wading through the rest of the book.

This is the first in a series of novels about the Church of England in the twentieth century. Her next novel after this one is called Glamorous Powers, is set in 1940 and focuses on Jon Darrow. I haven't decided whether to read it or not. I may not like the character so much after a tome dealing with him. And as a Roman Catholic, I find the doctrinal errors annoying. And since we are dealing with clergymen of the Anglican Church, doctrine is discussed.

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