Glamorous Powers Paperback – 4 Oct 2010
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'Glamorous Powers is a brave and welcome new direction for Susan Howatch to take' Observer
'An intriguing and wholly involving story' New York Times Book Review
'This novel marks a remarkable departure for Susan Howatch' Today
'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
'A mesmerising storyteller' Daily Telegraph
'One of the most original novelists writing today' Cosmopolitan
'She is a deft storyteller, and her writing has depth, grace and pace' Sunday Times
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.
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Top customer reviews
The story starts with Jon Darrow a man who became a monk in an Anglican order 17 years ago becoming convinced that he is being called by God to re-join the world in a as yet unspecified way. The book combines a love story,(yes incl. sex but not graphic) a journey of spiritual discovery and psycho-analysis as Jon faces up to the failures of his past and his relationships with his parents and children. The "Glamorous Powers" of the title are Jon's psychic powers. I particuarly like the way this aspect of the story is handled -although his abilities are genuine they are not exaggerated and do not provide magic answers to problems. As Ingram his spiritual advisor points out -for every genuine psychic insight Jon has he makes two wild inaccurate guesses. Despite the unlikely premise the story is a believable one and the main character despite his obvious character flaws is a symapathetic one. This story will appeal particularly to anyone interested in the mystical aspects of religion but it is definitely a story not a sermon.
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.
For anyone with an interest in Gnosticism and mysticism, this is a particularly interesting book - but such an interest is definitely not a pre-condition for reading and enjoying it! I'm not the only Howatch reader to have this as their favourite in the series. I've opened an online discussion and reading group based on the Howatch novels; if you are interested in joining please mail me!
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