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Glittering Images [Hardcover]

Susan Howatch
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Nov 1987
It is the 1930s, and Charles Ashworth is dispatched by the Archbishop of Canterbury to learn the truth about the flamboyant Bishop of Starbridge, Adam Alexander Jardine, and his mousy wife. Do Jardine's outspoken denouncements of the Anglican Church's strict divorce laws have a personal motive? When he meets the cool and beautiful Lyle Christie, Mrs. Jardine's companion, Ashworth believes they do. But as he struggles to understand the strange relationships in the household, Ashworth ceases to be an innocent, objective observer. Slowly, he too is drawn into the secret drama that is being played out in the shadow of the cathedral, a drama that he could never have foreseen.

The first in Susan Howatch's acclaimed novels centering on the glorious Cathedral of Starbridge, Glittering Images is a masterful depiction of spiritual hubris, the seductions of power, and the moral dilemmas of England between the wars.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 518 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; First edition edition (2 Nov 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002232642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002232647
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 16.2 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,919,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Susan Howatch may well be the Anthony Trollope of the 20th century. Howatch is more than just a novelist of ideas… She is a skilled storyteller who makes the reader wonder, and care about her people.' ANDREW GREELEY, Washington Post

'Rich in human interest, sex, scandal, moral crises and a good deal of humour, it is a book to keep you hooked throughout' Sunday Times

'Howatch writes thrillers of the heart and mind … everything in a Howatch novel cuts close to the bone and is of vital concern' New Woman

'Susan Howatch… is writing for anyone who can recognise that mysterious gift of the true storyteller.' Daily Telegraph

'One of the most original novelists writing today' Cosmopolitan
'Howatch's outstanding gifts as storyteller are combined here with a new seriousness of theme; the result is a superior novel.' Publishers Weekly

'One of the most original novelists writing today' Cosmopolitan

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Susan Howatch was born in Surrey in England. After taking a degree in law at King's College, London, she emigrated to America where she married, had a daughter, and embarked on her career as a writer. In 1976 she separated from her husband, left America and lived in the Republic of Ireland for four years before returning to England. While living in a flat overlooking Salisbury Cathedral and "trying to hold my divided self together", she found herself inspired by the beauty of the cathedral and became a convert. She wondered if she should continue producing romantic novels. Instead, she wrote the series of six Starbridge novels about the Church of England in the 20th century, all of which reflect her own spiritual crises.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparkles with her wit and expertise 4 Dec 2001
After writing 5 highly successful family sagas Susan Howatch had a spiritual experience which converted her to Christianity. She then embarked on the series of six novels which were later to be known as the Starbridge books; she had lived herself for some time in the Cathedral Close at Salisbury, and her fictional town Starbridge is actually Salisbury. Just as her family sagas were written in a multi-person first-person narrator format, so was the Starbridge series, but this time each narrator gets a whole book instead of only a section of one!
Glittering Images is the first book in the series. I had already read al five of the family sagas before I had the courage to start on Starbridge; I saw had the courage because I was sure that a whole series of books set in the Church of England could not help but be stuffy and priggish. But this of course is Susan Howatch, a master storyteller. And these books are considered by many to be an enormous step forward.
I found the depth of character found in all the Starbridge even more impressive than in the sagas. She shows not only an extraordinarily deep understanding of the human condition, she also shows great compassion and warmth for all her characters so that even if they have weaknesses and make mistakes, we can nevertheless forgive and love them.
In the first trilogy of books. Set in the 1930's and 1940's, each of the three narrators is stripped down and turned inside out, so that the reader knows all there is to know about them.
In this first book we first meet Charles Ashworth, who will be a major player in the series. Charles has conservative leanings and a Middle Way churchmanship.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story with unexpected depths 22 Feb 2001
By Helen W
Susan Howatch's ability to spin a good yarn is well known. Add to that the complexities of the Church of England and characters who have a realistic relationship with God (what a refreshing idea!) and you get this un-put-downable novel. I've recommended it to all my friends, and my husband - all have loved it.
And don't forget to read the rest of the Starbridge Novels after this cracking opener...
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These books could change your life 2 May 2006
A series of novels spanning several decades in the Church of England may not sound like a gripping read. But Howatch's Starbridge series is a great accomplishment - the writing is insightful and absorbing, the characters beautifully observed and the storylines make for compulsive reading. Perhaps most impressive is that her characters' spirituality is realistic and encouraging, and her theology is sound. If you're looking for a good read, this will fit the bill. If you're looking for a refreshing (but grounded and considered) take on faith and belief, this series could be profoundly helpful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and thought provoking 31 Dec 2012
Set in an ecclesiastical environment just before WW2, the fabric of this story is woven around an exploration of the both the psychology of power within the Church of England and the importance of personal integrity in the Church ministry. I loved it.

The story opens as Charles Ashworth is sent on a spying mission by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Is all as it should be in the household of the Bishop of Starbridge? Charles is himself on the edge of crisis and as certain things in the Bishop's household conspire to send him over the edge, all manner of secrets and repressed feelings are exposed and explored. As the story develops the term 'Glittering Image' comes to refer to the need for a person to present a brilliant exterior to the world at the expense of being honest about their relationships with themselves and their relationships with others.

Despite the ecclesiastical backdrop and the apparently heavy subject matter, this is not heavy reading. It is, however, very thought provoking. As Charles Ashworth moves further into personal crisis, he seeks spiritual counselling and the dialogue between him and his spiritual counsellor was for me, some of the most compelling in the book. With all the appearance of flippancy, Susan Howatch manages to convey some subtly important messages. Definitely a book to shout about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars different But enjoyable 23 Aug 2010
A Kid's Review
This series of books are not my usuall choice of reading but I find that I am most INTRIGUED by the inside of the lives behind men of the Church of England.There are 6 books in the series,I am on the third and cant finish it soon enough to get on to the next one.Susan Howatch is a great story teller and the poeple she writes about become real to me as they appear in each succesive book.Cannot reccomend them enough.
Hilda C.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glittering Images 13 April 2003
Glittering Images, along with the other five books of the Starchester chronicles, portrays with eerie clarity the seldom seen inner workings of the Church of England. This is like one of those books from childhood when your open the pages and the pictures stand up in three dimensions.
Susan Howatch manages to have me siding with first one character and then the other; I'm swept along in a swirling grasp of surprise and wonderment as these real life people manipulate my beliefs. It's a thrilling ride.
Anyone who thinks that religion is boring should read this book and its partners.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous
I had read all of Susan Howatch books except the Church series and am so glad that I've decided to read them. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Glittering service!
Arrived within a day and appeared to be brand new . And for less than £3.
Published 1 month ago by Retired academic
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant book in a brilliant series.
Published 2 months ago by Christine J Pierce
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
Great read. It can be read as either a Christian book or a secular novel. Would strongly recommend this book
Published 3 months ago by L M Watson
3.0 out of 5 stars Only average...
The book arrived promptly - many thanks; however like the previous comments it has faded and yellowed, making it seem a lot older than it's actual publication date.
Published 4 months ago by J. E. Page
5.0 out of 5 stars Glittering images
Absolutely brilliant. I have read and reread this book several times. The series is compelling reading. I wish Susan would write further books on this subject.
Published 4 months ago by kate farrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better on a second reading
I first read this book over twenty years ago and its power had stayed with me over those years. Reading it again confirms that not only is it a great novel that thrills and moves... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Will
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious and unconvincing
I find myself baffled by the glowing reviews promoting this book as a more modern Barsetshire chronicle. Read more
Published 7 months ago by cph
5.0 out of 5 stars Glittering images
Having read the book before, I wanted to read the series again in the order they were written so replaced the missing book. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Don Sharpe
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
This book was one of the star bridge series which gave me a new interest in Christianity. Not preachy, but fascinating.
Published 12 months ago by Sadie Mills
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