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Glittering Images (Starbridge #1)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,696 ratings  ·  191 reviews
Beneath the smooth surface of an Episcopal palace lurks the salacious breath of scandal. Charles Ashworth is sent to untangle the web of self-delusion and corruption only to become embroiled in a strange menage a trois that threatens to expose the secrets of his own past! In Glittering Images tension and drama combine in a compelling novel of people in high places, of desp ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published July 22nd 1996 by Fontana (first published 1987)
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Dec 09, 2011 Matthew rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matthew by: Andrew Hillman
First started reading this book about a year ago when my friend sent it to me and recommended I read it. I got through about a quarter of the book and set it aside. I couldn't figure out why my friend had sent me a trashy, historical romance.

A month or so ago he brought the book back and said I needed to read it. I figured that since he was telling me a second time I must have missed something the first time around. For that first part of the book I was still wondering what the heck was going on
This is not high literature. Howatch's Church of England series is really like romance novels for Anglicans. It's not that they lack sex-- there's plenty, mostly angsty, as you'd expect for a set of Anglo-Catholic classics. Rather, the narrative place of sex in a romance novel is taken by spiritual direction. You don't have fantasy lovers; you have psychic monks who can tell you exactly what's wrong with your relationship with God and your family, and what you need to do to fix it. Anyone who's ...more
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Howatch wrote this long series of novels about clergy in the Church of England. They are heavy on theology and psychology - so I loved them, but you have to like that sort of thing. If you do, dive in. They're wonderful. Some are a bit kinky, too, particularly the final three that she wrote some years later than the original six. I found them all really interesting.
Sep 12, 2012 Brenda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Matthew Johnstone, Heidi Waterhouse, Adam Flynn
Recommended to Brenda by: Magnus Palm
This was a tremendously satisfying book. It started light and Wodehousy, but quickly got deep and complex. There were a few moments of delighted realization as I, the reader, got to know what was going on. The book spoke to the kind of reality I live in, or wish I did.

I think my very favorite part of this book was its treatment of Christianity, Christians and the church. It is rare to find fiction that has a nuanced, compassionate view of any of these. But I found the book to be theologically co
On finishing this novel I thanked God that my life is, by comparison, so uncomplicated. This is a taut spiritual and psychological ecclesiastical thriller, of impressive angst. I lapped it up; this was a book that I resented putting down; instead delighting in new words (to me) such as ‘apostate’; so (sadly) useful in the Church of England nowadays, and being charmed by the thought of a door opened by “a butler “who looked like a character from a Trollope novel,” (no, not Joanna) which seemed ju ...more
Feb 12, 2008 Leah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Leah by: my mom
Holy Cow! What a story Susan Howatch weaves. There's depth and twist after twist. I'm very glad that this is just the first book to a huge series. Unfortunately, with a baby, it's harder to find time to read an in depth book like this. These books are no quick read. They are, however, completely worth your time.
Sheri Byrd
The first of the Church of England series that was, for me, life changing. This one begins in SH's former Gothic style, but her style develops considerably through the series to heart-stopping, page-turning psycho-spiritual thriller. The Wonder Worker series is a spin off of this series, and even more exciting, but not for the squeamish.
Jul 17, 2009 Jo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Serious readers, Readers interested in the Chrisitan faith, Readers with Ecclesiastical interest
Recommended to Jo by: No one

I read this book/series many years ago. Distinct memories are hazy, but having read other reviews, the general story comes back. I do remember being intrigued by learning about the ecclesiastical structure of the Church of England. The practice of having a spiritual guide for their pastors was intriguing. The spiritual faith of the main characters and their journeys are what kept me reading throughout the series.
The device of the author to advance the story through characters that appear in d
I have given 5 stars to a very few (maybe 5 or 6) books. I remembered reading this book several years ago and enjoying it, so I reread it this week. I don't know that I have ever enjoyed and admired an author's writing style, vocabulary, and careful story -plotting as much as I admire Ms Howatch's. I copied 5 full word-processing pages full of narrative and dialog that was either so inspiring in content or so clever in wording that I wanted to retain it for further consideration. I love to read ...more
If you like one Starbridge book, you'll like all of them. If you can't read the first one, just give it up. I loved them. Before I read these books I didn't even realize that there were high churchy Anglicans and low churchy ones. Or that English churchmen are for the most part very sex-ually hung up and neurotic. If people like the characters in these books actually exist, I have never met them, but I HOPE they exist. The stiffer-than-stiff upper lip and the guilt and inability to talk about th ...more
I read this series of books a few years ago and really liked them. They are about fictional clergy members of the Anglican Church--doesn't sound that fascinating, but I couldn't put them down! I really liked that the characters were so real--despite their obvious sins and failings, they still had strong faith. Beware--these books do contain sex and scandal, they are not for the faint of heart, but I still recommend them if you aren't bothered by such stuff.
This book was delightfully scandalous for 1930's England. The book centers on Charles Ashworth, a doctor of divinity who is commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury to investigate the Bishop of Starbridge's private and potentially scandal-filled life. The writing itself is quite beautiful, kind of like a thick brownie fresh from the oven (but with a few nuts in it). Although the book is set in some beautiful bits of England (Cambridge is one of my favorite places on earth), there aren't any ...more
Laura Rittenhouse
After 2 months, I've finally finished this book and have to say it wasn't great. I guess it was easy enough to read, but the situations played out a little too smoothly. The characters referred more than once to Freud and I couldn't help but think Ms Howatch had taken a psych 101 course and had turned one or two classic case studies into characters. The scenes were too pat - scripted is what I want to say but since this is a novel, I guess it is by definition scripted.

Also, the whole book, or 99
I am struggling with out to rate this. 2 stars seems like too little, but I just cannot give this book 3 stars, which both surprises and saddens me. This is the second Susan Howatch book I have read, although it is actually the first in her Starbridge series. I read "Ultimate Prizes" (the third in series...although they can be read out of order) and LOVED it. In fact, after finishing I could not wait to read the others in this series and planned to read them all! I was especially excited for "Gl ...more
I first read a Susan Howatch novel years ago and found it fascinating and read a couple more. I picked this one up at the recommendation of Jacqueline Winspear, one of my current favorite authors. She was Barnes & Noble mystery writer of the month and had a list of recommendations. A couple of them I had already read, so I grabbed some others with relish.

At first I wasn't too enthralled. It seemed a psychological story with a lot of Jungian underpinnings, pleasantly written, but a little ba
My edition of this book is so old it's not even pictured on any of those featured here on goodreads. I'm not sure when I first picked up a copy of this book or first read it. This is a booklady equivalent of junk reading. I first encountered dear sue when I lived in the UK in the early 80s. Fell in love with her technique of telling stories from first one perspective and then switching camera angles to a different character. It taught me the valuable lesson that while many may despise/like a per ...more
Jan 19, 2010 CLM rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to CLM by: SLM
Such a bizarre and improbable plot (although I think someone told me it is based on a real incident), not to mention totally unlikeable characters, but I was hooked anyway. In this series about the Church of England, Howatch flirts with the occult as she has her clergymen characters (and the women who tempt them!) try to deal with their stresses through non traditional religious means.

What an interesting departure from the two books I had read many years ago, Penmarric and Cashelmara, both outst
Jeff Zell
Wonderful book! So many layers to the main character, Charles Ashworth. Ashworth is a Church of England priest who serves the church in Academia. The Archbishop of Canterbury suspects that the Bishop of Starbridge (fictional, but based on Salisbury) may be living a life of scandal in the cathedral palace. Ashworth is asked to investigate under the guise of examining a copy of Anselm's works at the cathedral library. In learning about and then confronting the Bishop of Starbridge, Ashworth become ...more
I don't really know how to review this one. It defies genre.

Set in 1937, the main character is an Anglican Priest, given a tricky assignment by the Archbishop of Canterbury to investigate another bishop. This story contains memorable characters, intrigue, deep theological discussions, family secrets, philosophy, spiritual gifts, supernatural intervention, and a little too much Freud for my taste.

It's mostly talking: one character monologuing to another. It's dense. But somehow that makes it soun
K. Bird
Not sure how to react to this one. The story of a young canon in the Anglo-Episcopal church being sent by his Archbishop to investigate the potential for scandal in the household of a charismatic Bishop (and his wife and young "companion") is oddly hyper-focused on both mysticism-laced spirituality and male-centric "needs" of the body.

There's a lot of references to theologians, heresies, and "let thy will be done, not mind", in the conversations the main character has, as well as alot of recount
Katherine Willis Pershey
Wild, weird, and wonderful.
Weird to read about quite-less-than-perfect priests/bishops in the Anglican Church, especially as the setting was 1930s. A lot of reference to sex, but not generally graphic/detailed. Good character development, interesting protagonist. Some thoughtful passages.
I LOVED this book and all the others in this series. I loved watching the characters slowly succumb to their personal interests and then watch them fix their life. I i still remember the joy I felt when I discovered the last book of the series, which I didn't even know existed. Run, don't walk to the library, book store or digital device to read these.
Apr 07, 2008 Kim rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kim by: Joanne
Howatch has written a series of books centered around the Episcopal church. They're full of political and personal intrigue. She's a great writer and creates characters with a lot of depth. Joanne introduced me to this series. Read the books in order if you can!
A mediocre novel about a post-WWII scholar/clergyman's battle between his inner self & his own "glittering image." I found it too superficially psychological (Freudian) & thought it passed up some opportunities for spiritual depth.
The Starbridge series is amazing interweaving historical fiction, psychology, theology and mysticism into one. All of them fit together in a tapsestry that becomes richer with each one you read.
Blaine DeSantis
Thanks goodness for Kindle Daily Deals! I had never even heard of Susan Howatch until I got this in my Kindle daily notices. I was intrigued by the books description and decided to purchase the book.

Well, that turned out to be a great day because even though there are hundreds of other books on my Kindle I quickly gravitated to Glittering Images. What a wonderful book this turned out to be with religious, psychological and personal twists and turns throughout the novel. Many others have written
Jenn Bennington
Five stars aren't enough to express my love for this series. This is book one...and the books just keep getting better as the characters develop throughout the five books. Enjoy!
First in the 'Starbridge' series about the Church of England.

I love this book! It's an incredibly powerful novel, based in the early part of the 20th century. Charles, a young Anglican minister, is sent to see if a Bishop is committing 'indiscretions'. He gets caught up in the strange household he discovers, and various crises unravel from his own past and personality.

While the book is somewhat rambling in places, with a great deal of conversation, I found, even reading it for the fourth time i
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  • Markings
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Susan Howatch (b. 1940) is a British novelist who has penned bestselling mysteries, family sagas, and other novels. Howatch was born in Surrey, England. She began writing as a teen and published her first book when she moved to the United States in 1964. Howatch found global success first with her five sagas and then with her novels about the Church of England in the twentieth century. She has now ...more
More about Susan Howatch...

Other Books in the Series

Starbridge (6 books)
  • Glamorous Powers (Starbridge, #2)
  • Ultimate Prizes (Starbridge, #3)
  • Scandalous Risks
  • Mystical Paths (Starbridge, #5)
  • Absolute Truths (Starbridge, #6)
Cashelmara Penmarric Sins of the Fathers The Wheel of Fortune Glamorous Powers (Starbridge, #2)

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