This last book of the Church of England series has been the best of them all. And while it could be read by itself, you would be missing a lot of nuance that really shows what a spectacular author Howatch is.
The Absolute Truths again comes back to the beginning of the series and has Charles Ashworth as the narrator. Ashworth is telling his story from his old age. Things have changed since 1937 when the first book was set.
In the first book he meets a potential mentor, falls in love with the woman that becomes his second wife, deals with the death of his first wife (seven years prior), comes to terms with his father and a whole host of other issues.
Most of this book is concerned with 1965. Ashworth is the Bishop at Starbridge. (Book six goes back in time, because both books four and five start in 1963 and 1968, but then end in the 1980s.) He is at the peak of his career and things are going very well. Until his third life crisis hits and he is totally unprepared.
The central theme of this book is the ability to know the ‘Absolute Truths’ that everyone must live by, but when crisis hits you realize that those truths that you thought were so comforting are not actually as comforting as you thought they were.
A significant part of this book deals with suffering. There is a very good line that comes up in the midst of a spiritual discussion:
“It makes all the difference to know there is someone screaming along side you. And that’s the point of the incarnation isn’t it….God came into the world and screamed along side us.”
I really cannot praise this series too highly. I read the whole six books, around 3000 pages in five weeks. It is the best series of adult Christian fiction that I have read.
- Glittering Images by Susan Howatch (Church of England Series #1) (bookwi.se)
- Glamorous Powers by Susan Howatch (Church of England #2) (bookwi.se)
- Ultimate Prizes by Susan Howatch (Church of England #3) (bookwi.se)
- Scandalous Risks by Susan Howatch (Church of England #4) (bookwi.se)
- Abba, Give Me a Word: The Path of Spiritual Direction by Roger Owens (bookwi.se)
- Mystical Paths by Susan Howatch (Church of England #5) (bookwi.se)