03/06/2001

Mystical Paths (by Susan Howatch)

Re-reading the amazing 'Starbridge' series by Susan Howatch only a year after the first time I read it, I'm struck continually at how clever she is as a writer; the sub-plots weave together with almost uncanny skill, and her depth of understanding of human nature is brilliant.

'Mystical Paths' is the fifth book in this incredible series, which is about Church of England clergyman in the 20th century. In one sense, this book doesn't fit so well with the rest; it's written from the point of view of Nick Darrow, featuring events in the 1960s when he's in his twenties, and part of a rather wild set of people.

It's different from the others in that a murder mystery forms a significant part of the plot, as does Nick's rather co-dependent relationship with his father Jon. It's also different in that it's actually a precursor to the 'St Benet's' trilogy which were written after the Starbridge series.

Still, an exciting book that helps us understand yet another character who's been fairly minor in the earlier books. This one could easily be read on its own, and make perfect sense; however if you've read the other four Starbridge books first, this one answers some questions and progresses the story somewhat.

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