Most helpful positive review
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2006
Susan Howatch's stories are very weird. Her characters have tempestuous spiritual lives. I mentioned that I had read her novels to a man who was an assistant to former Archbishop Runcie. Runcie supposedly said they were good stories, but nonsense.
Having known Runcie a tiny bit, I found that quite disappointing. Surely he should know if some of his priests have psychic powers?
Howatch's world of demons, exorcisms, hypnosis, visions and healings is thrilling. She makes religious experience intensely dramatic. She expresses something of the inner turmoil and confusion we all feel but it is not practical or possible often to communicate to others.
The fact that a marriage or a family life can have one narrative, but look under the surface and there are many different narratives, is certainly true. That we have to revise our interpretation of events in our lives when we acquire self-knowledge is also absolutely spot on. Are the bits about resurrecting cats from the dead and premonitions of the future, literary devices that just bring out those facts with more clarity? I'm not sure. In our own minds we can identify strange inklings, but of course we tend to forget the inklings which turned to be absurd. Howatch is actually good at showing that we can fulfil our own premonitions by literally creating them through our own efforts.
I'm glad the Archbishop of Canterbury isn't infallible. I'm glad too that Susan Howatch writes such complex and stimulating fiction.