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Absolute Truths Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1996


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Absolute Truths + Mystical Paths + Scandalous Risks
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett (May 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449225550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449225554
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The sixth and final volume in a series that began with Glittering Images, this novel again displays Howatch's ability to meld an involving, character-driven story with a larger theme, that of spiritual quest and fulfillment. This time, however, the centrality-and discussion-of ecclesiastical issues tends to slow the narrative. The book is set during the mid-1960s, the period during which the Church of England-not to mention the rest of the country and beyond-was rocked by widespread challenges to tradition. Again representing tradition is narrator Charles Ashworth, the Anglican Bishop of Starbridge, who promotes the so-called Middle Way, a half-and-half mixture of Catholicism and Protestantism. Ashworth's archenemy-and doppelganger-is Neville Aysgarth, the Dean of the Cathedral who is, according to Ashworth, unorthodoxly open to using the trappings of a capitalistic marketplace to benefit the financially deteriorating church building. To make matters worse, Aysgarth is an alleged dipsomaniac and womanizer, who once made a pass at Ashworth's beloved wife, Lyle. When Lyle dies suddenly, the bereaved widower strays dangerously from the fold, but he does not experience a redemption-through-repentance journey as dramatic as those of Arthur Dimmesdale or Raskolnikov. Which isn't to say that Ashworth doesn't suffer, but his enlightenment is far less dramatic and therefore less convincing than those literary prototypes, and it's unsettling that at the end he still thinks skeletons in the cupboard can be exorcised through intellectual speculation. Lucidly written for those who have not read the other volumes, Absolute Truths should prove to be a satisfying finishing stroke for those who have. BOMC alternate; author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This final novel in a double trilogy about the Church of England in the 1930s and the 1960s is a splendid conclusion to the series (begun with Glittering Images, LJ 6/1/87) and a powerful combination of psychological insight, theological depth, and storytelling ability. Howatch simultaneously provides her reader with both marvelous entertainment and genuine insight into the human condition. The narrator for this volume is Charles Ashworth, now Bishop of Starbridge, who staunchly, even self-righteously, defends traditional values. This continues until crisis-and his wife's journal-reveal to him the "shadow" side of his own life and its effect on his two sons; his dean, Stephen Aysgarth; other clergy; several women; and himself. The end is phoenix-like, as characters rise from their own ashes, yet never unrealistic. Highly recommended for all libraries.
Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood Coll., Farmville, Va.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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As is the entire series.
Sharon Maas (smaas@btinternet.com)
They're literate, challenging and dare to explore questions of faith, love, family and loyalty.
Laura G. Carter
I think Susan Howatch is one of the best, if not the best writer I have ever read.
Michael D. Woods

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Everyone looking for depth, entertainment and a real spirituality boost should read this book. Everyone looking for an intellectual challenge should read this book. I just have to say it - everyone should read this book! Absolute Truths is actually the sixth book in a series, but like the other five stands fine on its own. It deals with the Church of England and in particular a few specific members of the church, in the 1960's. It deals with what is going on in society, what is going on with "regular" people and what is going on inside the Church of England and with its members. It focuses on one particular Bishop, Charles Ashworth, and shows him faults and all as a regular human being as he deals with the ups and downs in his personal, professional and spiritual life. There are terrific discussions of religious, spiritual, artistic and socio-economic ideals. This book will stretch your mind into thinking things you never thought would enter your grey matter. It's highly recommended by most of the people I know that have read it. And it's also recommended that you read the other books in this series. This book will change your life.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Maas (smaas@btinternet.com) on December 7, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although this is the last book in the Starbridge series it is actually set in time before its immediate prequel, Mystical Paths. Howatch obviously had good reasons for doing this; no other book could have rounded up the series so perfectly, and certainly it was a delight to return to Chares Ashworh as narrator, who began the whole series. This time Charles is at the evening of his life. He has been the Bishop of Salisbury for some years.. Some of those nearest and dearest to him have passed away and he has to come to terms not only with the sense of loss, doubt and lack of direction, but also with his wayward Dean, Neville Ayesgarth, who still insists on going off on a tangent in affairs of the Cathedral. As in Scandalous Risks, scandal seems only around the corner and Charles has to develop very strong spiritual muscles in order to bring matters to an outcome worthy of a Christian.
I must not forget to mention that in this novel Starbridge Cathedral itself - in the other books merely a background stat - becomes a major character, and a star player during the Grande Finale The climax of this book is not only deeply moving, it is also absolutely perfect. As is the entire series.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By carol irvin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 22, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When we started out in Book #1, the narrator, Charles Ashworth, was still fairly young. In this novel, he is again the narrator but he is elderly and the bishop of Starbridge. Being this age, he can wind up everyone's story. There is his whole generation of people and their families in the Anglican Church plus his childrens' generation of people. Of all the books, I'd say this one you better read as #6 and not out of order. There are simply too many stories which are wrapped up here that won't have the same impact on you if you haven't read books 1-5.

This novel has its share of worldly problems with: gay priests (2), the ghost of Jardine appearing in the cathederal, an exorcism of the cathedral, a possible embezzlement by Dean Aysgarth from cathedral funds, a suicide, death of a spouse and finding another spouse. It also has combined therapeutic-spiritual sessions again with Jon Darrow as spiritual director for both Ashworth and Aysgarth. Once I started any of the 6 books, I couldn't stop reading till the end and this one was no exception.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Laura G. Carter on July 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This and every one of Susan Howatch's novels are well worth the time put into them. They're literate, challenging and dare to explore questions of faith, love, family and loyalty. And while her "potboiler" novels are excellent, DON'T be put off by the 6-volume Church of England series. The characters are engaging and the questions and answers they discover during the traumatic events of their lives and the eventual renewal of their souls took me to philosophical places I'd never been before and forced me to often consider the same issues the characters themselves grappled with. That's what's wrong with people today - they're intellectually lazy and don't want to deal with issues of faith, belief, and the renewing powers of love. However, Ms. Howatch does so with a style and flair and gift with the written word that I can only sit back, read and envy and admire. More! More!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth G. Melillo VINE VOICE on March 24, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Knowing that those likely to read this review may well already share my love for the series as a whole, I shall begin by saying that Susan's gift for characterisation, with a great honesty and much room for grace to do its work, is always superb, and here at a new peak. My general approach to her main figures in the series is to see Jonathan Darrow as someone I'd love to hear preach but might be nervous to meet (even if he tends to compress 40 years worth of direction into a week's retreat) - Neville Aysgarth as someone I'd like to shake by the shoulders - Nicholas Darrow as one I'd closet with a library of the first fifteen centuries of Christian thought before he'd be allowed out - and Charles Ashworth as the ultimate Christian intellectual with whom I'd love to share weekly four-hour lunches with the best claret on the table. In this volume, Charles is once again the key character, and the reader finds, as he himself gradually learns, that the old glittering image is still much alive and as troublesome as ever.
Watching this character struggle with bereavement and grief of all varieties, and finally face the long-hidden "demons" which lurked in shadows to affect his relationship with his children and with his old nemesis Aysgarth, is incredibly moving and insightful. Dramatic though the plot becomes, it is a marvellous work wherein a seasoned bishop comes to new self-knowledge, humility, compassion ... and, while I'll not give the ending away, ultimately a specific setting of happiness which some readers will have thought he should have snatched 30 years before.
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