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Easter Paperback – 10 Mar 2008

23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: ARCADIA BOOKS (10 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905147937
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905147939
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Arditti is a novelist, short story writer and critic. His novels are The Celibate (1993), Pagan and her Parents - Pagan's Father in the USA (1996), Easter (2000), Unity (2005), A Sea Change (2006), The Enemy of the Good (2009), Jubilate (2011) and The Breath of Night (2013). His short story collection, Good Clean Fun was published in 2004. He was awarded a Harold Hyam Wingate scholarship in 2000, a Royal Literary Fund fellowship in 2001, an Oppenheim-John Downes memorial award in 2003, and Arts Council awards in 2004 and 2007. He was the Leverhulme artist in residence at the Freud museum in 2008. His novels have been short- and long-listed for several literary awards and Easter won the inaugural Waterstone's Mardi Gras award. In 2012 he was awarded an Honorary DLitt by the University of Chester.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Can AIDS and the universal agony it brings--not only to its sufferers but to all who suffer on the sidelines--be interpreted as a reworking of the great Christian myths of holy week? Michael Arditti thinks so. He fictionally explores his thesis, which has the potential to be profoundly disturbing, in his new novel Easter with a huge cast centred on the high church parish of St Mary-in-the-Vale, Hampstead.

Gay curate Blair Ashley is a former lover of recently deceased AIDS sufferer Julian Blaikie, parishioner and aristocrat whose Lady Bracknell-esque mother is aggressively unsympathetic. Then there's Lyndon Brooks, infatuated adolescent worshipper, Esther the bishop's wife, who discovers her true lesbian self at age 53, and a pair of women who are married in church by the curate without the knowledge of the vicar--himself happily married but beset by religious doubts. And there are more, including an HIV- positive doctor, a positive librarian and a fiercely "celibate" archdeacon who explores his perversions with a rent boy at the private altar in his cellar.

But graphic homo-erotic sex and the counterpointing of it against the homophobia of the bishop and others notwithstanding, Easter is also a novel about spirituality, suffering and the succouring role of liturgical church services, all meticulously described. Just as it would have been in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, the whole of the human experience is in Easterincluding faith, scepticism, cynicism, honesty, despair, cruelty, snobbery, guilt and corruption.

The account of Trudy England, closet childhood Jewish German refugee who at last finds "peace in herself", is very moving indeed. So is the depiction of the Nigerian Child, Cherish, another refugee, blind and dying of AIDS.

Arditti, who structures his novel in three sections--the last being a working of the events of the first from different angles--often writes with wittily shrewd and observant precision. Someone speaks with "tweed-skirted diction"; a dying man watches the words of a prayer "fly about the room like humming-birds"; and the bishop's PA tartly initiates a visitor into canon biscuit law--"Chocolates are for suffragans, bourbons for archdeacons. Vicars and curates get rich tea". --Susan Elkin --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

Easter is a masterpiece' - Time Out'A huge book written with wit, compassion and a sharp critical eye. The writing is packed with daring imaginative leaps. Apart from Arditti's brilliant comic skills, there is a deep moral core' - Financial Times'It's a delight to find a modern novel that takes religion and all the objections to it seriously as a subject: the rockpool of a London parish teems with all kinds of curious life' - Philip Pullman, Sunday Times'Arditti writes about Western Christianity, as it is manifest in the present Church of England, with pungency and satirical frankness. His style has Joycean echoes. Against a background of the conventional liturgies he places awful actualities in the lives of preachers and practitioners' - Muriel Spark

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 April 2000
Format: Paperback
It is always risky when you start a new novel by one of your favourite novelists. Having absolutely loved Arditti's The Celibate and Pagan and Her Parents, I have been eagerly anticipating Easter. And yet part of me was nervous. What if Easter didn't live up to my expectations?
I needn't have worried. Easter is a wonderful book - it's funny, it's moving, it's sexy and it's profound. Whole chunks of the book take place in church services, but don't be put off. If only all church services were as dramatic (and well-written!) as this, the Church wouldn't be worrying about falling numbers. A whole range of fascinating characters - the local grande dame and her downtrodden companion, a corrupt property developer and his bitchy wife, an Austrian Jewish refugee, a lesbian painter and her New Zealand girlfriend, a North Country librarian with HIV, an African princess from Nigeria (my favourite character), not forgetting the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh bickering on the way to Westminster Abbey - are brilliantly interwoven in a range of Easter stories. What's more, at the centre Arditti has put the challenging story of a modern Jesus - the curate, Blair (no, not that one!).
What makes the book especially fascinating is the way Arditti has used a highly original structure - looking at the same events through different perspectives - and yet the novel is a compulsive page-turner. Easter makes you laugh and cry and it makes you think. I'd recommend it to everyone. It's the best new novel I've read for years.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Johannes Huber on 1 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
Easter is a book about events at an Anglican parish in suburban London in Holy Week. It's not an easy book to get into, as it is divided into three different parts, which tell the story from different viewpoints, and moves from one dialogue or stream of consciousness to the next without introducing the characters; I found I often had to look up names in the list of characters at the beginning of the book, and I got confused at times about the sequence of events. This structure makes the book intriguing to read though. I liked the way the author intersperses dialogues, thoughts etc. with formal descriptions of liturgical and other happenings ("The Curate leads the donkey around the church. It takes fright at the cloud of incense and defecates by the font").
I got somewhat irritated by the schematic and very politically correct classification of characters. Most of the good parts are reserved for homosexual and HIV-positive characters with alternative life styles, and the people with more conventional roles or beliefs come off rather badly. The book includes wild charicatures of an evangelical bishop and a repressed homosexual Anglo-Catholic Archdeacon indulging in bizarre masochistic practices.
If you're not turned off by the rather one-sided ideological viewpoint, you'll find this book an interesting, serious exploration of religious themes in modern life. I enjoyed it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Byzantium on 7 July 2008
Format: Paperback
At times brilliant, but ultimately flawed in the emphasis on homosexuals and lesbians (at times it appears characters who are not Gay are the odd minority) and AIDS - although I guess it is is probably almost impossible to over-emphasise the impact of AIDS.
Arditti is without doubt a skillful writer, particulary with dialogue, and is so good at describing the challenges and apparent contradictions of living a Christian (C of E style) life in a society where congregations are dwindling, that this is almost two books in one.
I personally could have done with less graphic descriptions of a Curate's search for sexual liberation on Hampstead Heath at night, and more with the author's insight into Christianity and the C of E.
Strangely- although this may of course be the author's intent- some of the less appealing characters (for example "Ted Bishop" the Bishop of London) come over as quite genuine albeit misguided.Hard to know what characters we are expected to approve of and the converse. The "hero" appears to be the Gay Curate with AIDS who attempts to define his faith in terms of his sexual mores and condition. Only Arditti can answer this one.

Nevertheless, thought provoking and worth reading
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By richard@ashby10.freeserve.co.uk on 3 May 2000
Format: Paperback
It is a theological and parsonical truism, preached from countless pulpits, that Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection take place everywhere and everyday. In this novel of a Holy Week in the life of a North London parish these platitudes become a reality for the participants in a liturgy which takes them from complacency and doubt, through pain and despair, to a sort of resurrection.
This isn't a Barbara Pym novel of repressed emotions in prim parish life. Or rather, in one sense it is, but with all the rawness of the emotions exposed in a parish where the reality of life as it is lived crowds the pages with a rich variety of characters whose faults, weaknesses, jealousies, mixed motives, loves and hates are writ large. It is Barbara Pym with all the sex and violence left in.
But that does it an injustice. It is also a deeply angry, moral and theological novel; anger at the twisting and debasing of the central Gospel message of love and acceptance by those who use it to reject and exclude; full of simple wisdom in a complex world, where the kindness of strangers heals a sixty year guilt, where it is the frailness and humanness of priests and people who prove the certainty and safety of Love and where in the end we can all stand and say 'Lord, I am worthy'.
All this takes place against the background of the liturgy and interspersed by the ceremonial directions, the antiphons and the hymns of Passiontide and Easter. Mostly written in the present tense, the story of the week is told twice, through the eyes of many different people and through our eyes as we read it the second time, knowing what we have already read.
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