Mystical Paths

Mystical Paths

4.22 (1,012 ratings on Goodreads)
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Description

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. 1968, with the swinging sixties sliding into decadence, finds Nicholas Darrow wrestling with overwhelming personal problems: How can he bring himself to marry his fiancee, Rosalind, when he is unable to avoid promiscuity? How can he become a priest when he finds it so difficult to live as one? And how can he break his dangerous dependence on his father Jon, whose psychic gifts he shares? It is at this crucial moment in his life that Nick becomes involved in the mystery surrounding his friend, Christian Aysgarth. Gradually, he realises that discovering the truth about this enigmatic and complex man will unlock the answers to his own baffling problems. However, his journey through darkness into the light reverses all the old certainties and, in his experiments with the psychic powers, Nick risks even his own life and sanity.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 576 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 42mm | 439.98g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • Harper
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0006496873
  • 9780006496878
  • 848,679

About Susan Howatch

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.show more

Review Text

The air is thick with incense and mysteries (both secular and non) in this fifth smashing novel in Howatch's High Church series (Spontaneous Risks, 1990, etc.). Whoever would have thought that she could turn 20th-century theology into bestsellerdom? But she's done it again, this time reminding us that she's a mistress of the generational novel as well - because, here, the sons of heroes (actually, psychically wounded antiheroes, scrambling back to God) from former volumes step up to, well, the altar. It doesn't take 25-year-old Nick Darrow long to get into deep spiritual trouble here; after all, he's not only psychically touched (like his 88-year-old father, Jon, from Glamorous Powers) but young, cocky, impatient, sexually hyperactive - and, to make matters worse, it's 1968. On the eve of Nick's ordination, a debutante friend convinces him to look into the death of Christian Aysgarth, a brilliant Oxford don who died suddenly in a boating accident, leaving behind a wife agonized with guilt because she thinks it was suicide. So, Nick to the rescue, with a botched exorcism and not-so-botched seduction of the grieving widow. Such occurrences, along with Nick's double life as a Casanova among working girls, make him dimly aware that his personality is frayed, but he can't open up to his saintly father for fear that the beloved old guy will die of horror. Nick plunges on, then, eventually getting so obsessed with the Aysgarth affair that he believes himself possessed by the dead man. That's when Father Lewis Hall shows up in his groovy white VW to take Nick by the hand and lead him to the light. Along the way back, Christian's death is resolved in a spiffy little climax that includes an attempted murder, an exorcism conducted - quite successfully this time - by Nick, and a spiritual healing between Nick and his father. If only spiritual guides showed up like fairy godmothers in real life! Howatch even brings psychological and theological meaning to Nick's salvation. A sure-fire hit. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

'One of the most original novelists writing today' Cosmopolitan 'She is writing for anyone who can recognise that mysterious gift of the true storyteller' Daily Telegraph 'Arguably no one writing today can equal Howatch's ability to write compelling novels that combine theology and psychology in a complex, fast-moving plot offering beautifully delineated characters and the suspense of a mystery thriller' Publishers Weekly 'A fascinating, mind-bending exposition... Howatch wins out' Sunday Times' 'Taking on the style of a psychological thriller...Mystical Paths covers in a profound and theologically thoughtful way the powers of light and powers of darkness...Her success should not go unrewarded' Catholic Herald 'Howatch writes thrillers of the heart and mind ...everything in a Howatch novel cuts close to the bone and is of vital concern' New Womanshow more
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