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Fathomless Riches: Or How I Went From Pop to Pulpit [Kindle Edition]

Richard Coles
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The memoir of popular BBC Radio 4 SATURDAY LIVE presenter, the Reverend Richard Coles.

The Reverend Richard Coles is a parish priest in Northamptonshire and a regular host of BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live. He is also the only vicar in Britain to have had a number 1 hit single: the Communards' 'Don't Leave Me This Way' topped the charts for four weeks and was the biggest-selling single of its year. Fathomless Riches is his remarkable memoir in which he divulges with searing honesty and intimacy his pilgrimage from a rock-and-roll life of sex and drugs to a life devoted to God and Christianity.

Music is where it began. Richard Coles was head chorister at school, and later discovered a love of saxophone together with the magic of Jimmy Somerville's voice. Against a backdrop of intense sexual and political awakening, the Communards were formed, and Richard Coles's life as a rock star began.

Fathomless Riches - a phrase characteristic of St Paul and his followers - is a deeply personal and illuminating account of a transformation from hedonistic self-abandonment to 'the moment that changed everything'. Funny, warm, witty and wise, it is a memoir which has the power to shock as well as to console. It will be hailed as one of the most unusual and readable life stories of recent times.

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One of the most immensely readable - and redeemable - memoirs of the year. His book is an engaging account of eccentricity, curiosity and a profound spiritual journey. I give it a screamingly camp, happy-clappy thumbs up (Helen Davies SUNDAY TIMES)

Sex, drugs, death, religion, more sex, many more deaths - it has got it all. Like a sparkling old style chasuble worn by a Spanish priest, it is difficult to ignore (Chris Bryant GUARDIAN)

He writes with charm and erudition and his take on 1980s Britain is fascinating (Virginia Blackburn SUNDAY EXPRESS)

Beautifully written, disarmingly frank and utterly charming (James Delingpole MAIL ON SUNDAY)

Richard's devastating honesty makes his journey from gay pop-star to celibate parish priest comprehensible even to atheists (Linda Grant) of the most readable memoirs of 2014. (Helen Davies THE SUNDAY TIMES - Books of the Year 2014)

It is a tale of redemption and of a sinner come to transformation... The Church of England is all the better for having such a priest within its ranks. (Stephen Bates LITERARY REVIEW)

Full of wit and humour about finding god, and Jimmy Somerville. (Katy Guest INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY - Books of the Year 2014)

Richard Coles has achieved a rare thing in writing an astonishingly honest autobiography, which, alongside the sex and drugs, presents Christian faith in a way that will surely be invitingly intriguing to an audience well beyond the church. ..An immensely enjoyable memoir, whether a reader's primary interest is the music industry, the impact of AIDS, the Church of England, or a wonderfully Anglican combination of all three. (The Revd Christopher Landau CHURCH TIMES)

Witty, honest and - no pun intended - irreverent, it is very much a personal and at times hearbreaking account about what it was like ot be day during the period with a bit of pop-world gossip thrown in as well. Readable to say the least. (MORNING STAR)

Book Description

The memoir of popular Radio 4 Saturday Live presenter the Reverend Richard Coles. Unabridged edition read by the author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very good book. Celebrity memoirs are junk 17 Oct. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This really is a very, very good book. Celebrity memoirs are junk, on the whole, but if Richard Coles is a celebrity it is not, now, because he was once half of the Communards. He owes his fame to his broadcasting on Radios 2, 3 and 4, to his tweeting and facebooking, to his association, perhaps, with the television drama series 'Rev', but most of all to what he has to say about God, about life, and about life through God. Not fashionable subjects, but Coles writes about them with such honesty, grace, humour and lightly worn learning that in this most agnostic of times, he has become something of a light to thousands of people who are interested in, if not always convinced by the possibility of a Christian life in the world now.
The book is a straight run from his childhood in Northamptonshire, through rebellious youth in 80s London, through the hell of AIDS to the glitter and whirl of genuine celebrity and exploits with a natural superstar, Jimmy Sommerville, to the end of popstardom, broadcasting for the BBC and a spiritual search which takes him via Catholicism to the Anglican Church. The writing, throughout, is elegant, often very funny, sometimes very moving and - though given to a weakness for puns - never, not for a single sentence, dull.
The story will resonate with gay, straight, religious and atheist alike. Coles has survived, just, times of utter darkness, some thrust upon him (his homosexuality made him feel, when young, that there was no place in the world for him, and he attempted suicide) others which he found himself beset by (AIDS killed many of his friends; his writing about the period reads like a despatch from a now nearly forgotten and terrible holocaust) and some in which he landed himself, through drugs, fallibility, and, well, being human.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars READ IT. 17 Oct. 2014
It's like I plugged myself into the 80s and landed in a Kate Bush song. He has let us in through his window to declare Cathy rather than Heathcliff but despite the mea culpa self deprecating style you can't help loving him or the book. Your emotions will be taken to wuthering heights before chilled with the harshness of reality living with) or should I say living whilst) friends dying.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Read - Highly Recommended 20 Oct. 2014
As a young boy growing up in Belfast, I remember watching The Communards’ music video for Never Can Say Goodbye. In that video I was mesmerised by the keyboard player in the grey suit, rounded spectacles who sported flat top black hair miming the words ‘Never can say goodbye, boy!’ as he rolled his eyes. This man was Richard Coles, and much to the bewilderment of my parents I wanted the Red album for a Christmas stocking filler.
Years later, while I was studying for the priesthood myself I read an article in the Tablet Magazine that informed me that the said member of The Communards was himself in training for priesthood within the Anglican Church. For years I have always wanted to know how and why someone had the calling from pop to the pulpit.
I decided to listen to Fathomless Riches on audible, as I have been listening to Richard for many years on BBC Radio4, and I wanted to hear him tell the story rather than initially read it. At first, in his preface I found myself connecting with his understanding of Saint Paul and the joy that can be found in the liberating message of the Gospel, but I immediately was left wondering how most people would react to this preface and would it set the tone for the book. Within seconds I was listening to Richard tell a story about a naked man dancing around a car park one Christmas night with nothing but a tinsel wrapped around a certain part of his anatomy, and immediately I found myself laughing and I knew that Yes, this was a story I really wanted to hear.
As if sitting in room, beside a burning log fire with a dachshund on my lap, I was enthralled with the story of a normal Northampton boy who faced the struggles of his life and who took the chances when they came to form one of the biggest pop bands of the 80’s.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 21 Oct. 2014
By mads
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this so much - thank you Richard Coles. I have, in fact, got out my Book of Common Prayer unused for far too long.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Mr. RpN
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I approached this book with a little trepidation because I like bronski beat and the communards, and enjoy listening to Richard Coles on R4, so I didn't want to discover that Rev C was a terrible name-dropper or self-regarding prig. Well he isn't - and he emerges as human, humane, and wearing his intelligence lightly.

As the title implies, the book falls into two halves. There are the pop star years which I found the more interesting. I was a lefty, gay activist, out in London in the 80s and so I recognised much of the backdrop of community, fun - oh and AIDS.

Then there are the religious years which is readable but for me a bit slow at times. As an atheist I found it hard to fathom how someone so bright and erudite could devote himself to a life based on little more than superstition and camp ritual. However, towards the end of the book I realised that pop star and pulpit are just two slightly different ways of dressing up, being the centre of attention, and showing off. So not a mystery after all. Happily, Rev C seems to recognise this too at some level.

Although some people (like Jimmy Somerville) don't come out of this book very well (and one suspects that Rev C was being generous in the allowances he made) overall the account of an outsider who makes the best of the cards he has been dealt to find self-acceptance is uplifting and well worth reading.

The only disappointment was that, having followed Rev C on twitter, and also followed Rev David Coles, I was hoping to gain some insight into their home life. Through the lens of twitter it seems intriguing to say the least. Perhaps there will be another volume at some point.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The book is in excellent condition and hardly looks used at all
The book is in excellent condition and hardly looks used at all. I enjoyed reading this book, and found it very interesting.
Published 4 days ago by Val B
5.0 out of 5 stars A very honest account of a life that started like so many but with...
A very honest account of a life that started like so many but with some surprising twists and turns which could give alot of people hope and inspiration. Read more
Published 10 days ago by J J
3.0 out of 5 stars Self indulgent and really surprisingly boring! Disappointing but then...
Self indulgent and really surprisingly boring! Disappointing but then he does come over on the radio as rather smug and pleased with himself. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Alan Scott Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Come an be my vicar!
I loved this book. I am familiar with Richard Coles from his Radio 4 programme but I knew very little about his rackety past life as a pop singer. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Mary Gladman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very intresting live..
Published 24 days ago by uniform1
5.0 out of 5 stars As with most people of my age, when you ...
As with most people of my age, when you mention Richard Coles my first thought is of the Communards. There is, of course, much more to him. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Nic
5.0 out of 5 stars National treasure status beckons
This is a life story in two halves that just has to be told - it's gripping, both earthy and heavenly, funny and in places very moving.
Published 1 month ago by Debbie
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic book from a really nice chap
A fantastic book from a really nice chap. The insight into how he moved into the church was really fascinating and the history of life as a pop star and all the excesses that come... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. P. N. Cardno
1.0 out of 5 stars One Big Ego Trip.
Richard seems to be on an ego trip and gets more angry because he's not the centre of attention. I felt sorry for him at times, but at other's not at all. Read more
Published 2 months ago by SeekerofTruth/GrahamB.
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
An enjoyable, enlightening and interesting journey from pop star to pulpit. Intriguing story about someone's progressions and reasoning through Catholicism to the Church of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Janie
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