28/05/2001

Ultimate Prizes (by Susan Howatch)

Once I start on Susan Howatch's 'Starbridge' series of novels about the Church of England, it's hard to put them down, even though I read them all only a year ago.

'Ultimate Prizes' is the third in the series. It's narrated by Neville Aysgarth, and is best read after the other two, although it could stand alone.

Neville is a particularly clever creation as a character, since he's not actually very appealing, yet his story is gripping. He's appeared as a minor (and rather unpleasant) character in the previous books, so it's interesting to see into his psyche in this book.

We learn a great deal about Neville's childhood and background, as he comes to terms with tragedy and nearly (as he tells us in the first sentence of the book) commits adultery. He takes advice from Jon Darrow, despite despising his Anglo-Catholicism, and discovers a new calling for himself... although, in the end, he rejects some of Jon's suggestions.

Well worth reading, and re-reading!

(I first read this in 2000, and again in 2007)

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