Reissue of the author's most famous and well-loved work, the Starbridge series, six self-contained yet interconnected novels that explore the history of the Church of England through the 20th century.
Charles Ashworth is privileged, pampered and pleased with himself. As Bishop of Starbridge in 1965 he 'purrs along as effortlessly as a well-tuned Rolls-Royce' while he proclaims his famous 'absolute truths' to a society which he sees - with rage and revulsion - as increasingly immoral and disordered. But then a catastrophe tears his life apart and confronts him with the real absolute truths, truths which so shatter him that he finds himself stripped of his pride and struggling for survival.
Grappling with the revelation that he has failed his wife, short-changed one son and distorted the personality of the other, Charles's guilt steadily drives him into the immoral and disordered life he has condemned so violently in others. Fighting against the threat of complete breakdown, he then embarks on a quest to rebuild not only his private life but his professional life, a quest which leads him to a final battle with his old enemy Dean Aysgarth in the shadow of Starbridge Cathedral.
'I read on, wriggling on a hypnotic storyteller's hook' Daily Telegraph
'Every bit as good as Trollope' Liverpool Echo
'A tour de force... Susan Howatch has been likened to a twentieth-century version of Trollope. To make such a comparison is to fail to do her justice' Church of England Newspaper
'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
'Riveting... extremely moving and often very funny... She is a deft storyteller, and her writing has depth, grace and pace' Sunday Times
'She 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
'The best female writer in Britain today' Birmingham Evening Mail
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.