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Absolute Truths: Church of England Series, Book 6 (Starbridge #6)

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,152 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Charles Ashworth is privileged, pampered and pleased with himself. But when a catastrophe tears his life apart, his guilt drives him into the immoral and disordered life the Bishop of Starbridge has condemned so violently in others.
Audiobook, 0 pages
Published April 16th 2009 by AudioGO (first published January 1st 1995)
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Keith Massey
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the only book I have ever read that, at one crucial point, did not just bring me to tears. It elicited from me a convulsive bout of deep mourning, sorrow for all that had happened in the lives of the people Susan Howatch had created in this entire series. I had to put the book down and bury my head in my hands and work through the grief of all the entire Starbridge Series had meant.

And I loved it.

Start from the beginning of the series and work your way to this book. You will eventually n
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I could have rated this as high as 4 stars if it had been 200 pages, but 600+ was bloating and exhausting. I plodded on because it is required for a spiritual direction practicum and I was determined to find out why. There is some good stuff here about forgiveness and the art of spiritual direction, so I forgive the teacher so long as he repents and finds shorter works. And that is the absolute truth.
Warren Hicks
Sep 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was the very best of the series. The characters were believable multi-faceted.

Maybe it's because I'd gotten to know them so well. Any way, I think I liked this one best. I also think that the spiritual message of 'integration' redemption and modeling of the MIddle Way of Anglicanism was brilliant.

Charles Ashworth's journey and the ruminations on the role of mysticism in a church rent to the breaking point by its Liberal and Conservative wings gives me further cause for hope.

I'll r
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very busy book (though I kept thinking in the end was she going to have time to wrap up all the pieces?). And just like her, she surprises you by the narrator-let's go back to the first guy and back in time since book 5. I loved the way the books interweave and especially how the three main guys are brought together in the end (and oh the great aspects of the church they all represent and side note, I wonder if SH had a favorite, I'll never know how a writer's mind works...) Just like the God ...more
Rhona Arthur
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, that's the end of the first 6 books. I feel quite sad, like saying goodbye to friends; however, I know there's the next trilogy sitting at home waiting for me. This final book is a weighty time, not just the pages and scholarly mixture of psychology and theology but the sheer opportunity for contemplation. Each section and chapter has at least three quotes to take through the day to mull over. You can read this book and worry about the Church of England's liberal, conservative and anglo ca ...more
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've typically rated her novels with 3 stars as excellent fictional stories. However, the entire series is utterly engaging relatable emotive redemptive. I love the people she created. It makes me wonder about her life and experiences...
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this series - learn something new about theology with every reading. Already looking forward to re-reading the series in another 10 years! : )
Jan 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looking back, this was one of the most engaging books I read in the last year. It is hard to say, but probably what I enjoyed about it most was that the main characters were strong, complex, intelligent and flawed. Despite the fact that their beliefs and lifestyles were very different from my own, I was still able to empathize with their predicaments, decisions, and the emotional fallout from the various plot developments.

Another reason that I found the book compelling was the philosophical and
This very busy book is the sixth and concluding book of the Starbridge series. It is narrated by Charles Ashworth, Bishop of the Starbridge. By this time in the series all the characters have become real people to me and all the events have actually happened. I am very involved.

Events almost happen faster than I the reader can absorb them. Lyle, the much loved but somewhat stand-offish wife of Charles dies and when her journal comes to light Charles discovers that she had a much richer inner spi
Adam Shields
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short review: In a series that I really, really liked, this is the the best book. It is not often that the last book in a series is the best, but in this case it is. Unfortunately you cannot read the last book as a stand alone novel and get the entire weight of the book. You can read it as a stand alone book. But because these books are all narrataed by a single character, you will not get the understanding of the other characters that are detailed in the prior books.

In this book Charles Ashwort
May 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My word, Susan Howatch can be verbose! This is my fifth foray into the Church of England series and my second helping of Charles Ashworth's story. While Howatch writes very well and knows her theology, I found myself tiring of the same psychological dilemma of her main characters. They are always dealing with father issues in the most Freudian ways. And although she writes from one female's viewpoint in the previous novel; Venetia Flaxton, we are treated only to the psychological minds of men. W ...more
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the last of the 6 book series ( Starbridge,#6). I was fastinated by this series, although I enjoyed some of the books more than others. I believe my favorites were the first, second, and 6th. Actually, I especially enjoyed the 6th, and didn't want it to end.
Susan Howatch is a exceptional writer. This series is about the Church of England in the 20th Century. I learned a great deal about the Church of England: It's workings and organization. In 5 or ten years I may want to read the whole
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this and the other Starbridge series novels in Seminary in the '90s. They are great reads- exciting, deep characters, great plots. Through the characters of this and the other novels inthe series three streams of 20th Century Anglican theology are explored, with many analogues to contemporary evangelical theology (my home). I found myself more in awe of the way God works in and through us in spite of our limitations and failings, and more in love with Jesus for the way he rescues people f ...more
Adam Shields
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: This is my second reading go Absolute Truths. It is the final and best of this excellent series. The series as a whole is about a group of Church of England clergy in the mid 20th century. The focus of this book is what it means when Romans says 'all things work together for good for those that love the Lord.' Charles Ashworth (now Bishop of Starbridge) has his third life crisis.

This is not traditional Christian fiction, I don't think US evangelical publishers would publish the se
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The sixth and last book in the Starbridge series, Absolute Truths again focuses on Charles Ashworth, now the powerful bishop of Starbridge. When tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family, Ashworth is again forced to face absolute truths about his marriage, his relationships with his sons, his bishopric, and even his spiritual life. The resulting crisis makes for fascinating reading. This is the first Howatch book I read for a class in college. One of the beauties of this series is that you can sta ...more
One of my all time favorites.

I read this for school but read it at a time where I was struggling personally. I really identified with the main character because of this. I would read this book over and over again (hence the way I shelved it).

I'm honestly not sure if I would feel the same way if I read it again because obviously my personal life is different than when I read it initially several years ago. But the one thing it dealt with was forgiveness and how difficult it can be when you are de
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the last volume in the author's series on the English Church in the 20th century. It follows Charles Ashworth, the main character of the first book, in the mid-1960s. The book is filled with the author's trademark insight into psychology, and is an interesting read. However, I thought there were too many characters and plot lines introduced but not developed. Also, although the book started off strong, the ending was a bit disappointing, and did not really provide a resolution for all of ...more
May 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i just re-read this book, the final book in a six book series about the Church of England. susan howatch takes theology and brings it to life through fiction, and the combination of her witty style and deep ideas makes it such a satisfying read for me. this time, i really wanted to re-read this one because its' main point is romans 8:28 - all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes. i would definitely recommend reading this book. start with t ...more
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sixth and last in the Starbridge series about ministers in the Church of England in the 20th century.

This novel is set in the 1960s, told from the point of view of Charles, hero of 'Glittering Images', now much older and settled into life as a Bishop. The battles he has fought in previous books come to a head, he is faced with a major crisis, and learns a lot about himself.

While complete in itself, it's best to read as the last of the series since it ties up many loose threads. A wonderful and
Pippa Fox
Jun 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
hard to get into at first but worth perservering with. One of those books it's sometimes better to open half way through to make a start and then work back to the beginning. Insight into life on the other side of the confessional, especially the internal life of wives of clerics with major family problems. Deep, perceptive, made me think. Not a writer I can take too much of though, but definitely worth a look.
Misha Crews
I was so sad to finally come to the end of Susan Howatch's Starbridge series! This is a masterful work, full of interesting characters and set against the truly unique background of the fictional Starbridge Cathedral. I thought Howatch did a magnificent job of winding up the series with this novel. Her characters are so beautifully human; she manages to capture the eternal dichotomy of human nature, from the debased to the divine. The only thing I can do now is read the series over again!
Heather Tomlinson
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

I was astonished how much I enjoyed this book. It's a fast-paced, insightful and engaging romp through the breakdown of one pompous bishop. It reminded me a bit of Jilly Cooper, without the sex. Kind of a Jilly Cooper novel for the Church of England.

This is the first Howatch book I've read, but this is the last in a series. I hope I haven't spoiled the others by reading this, and I hope they're as good.
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These books have had a profound effect on me. I read the series several years ago, yet have never forgotten, the characters, the ideas, the intrigue, the way they stories insinuated their way into my thinking. I have loved reading them and will wait for more from this accomplished writer. I read her earlier works many years ago and loved her methods, the continuity in many of her stories.mi don't know if she can better this series. I hope she tries.
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The series finally comes full circle as once again the Starbridge series encounters Charles Ashworth. In my humble opinion, the series is best read by reading the first book, skipping the books in between and this one, the sixth. While non of the books equal the first and some are well below that standard at least the last in the series completes the journey.
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this (and the first five books in the series) about 20 years ago. Some reviewers here thought it was too long, but I enjoyed every word. (Then again I like Anthony Trollope; in some ways the Starbridge series is a modern-day Chronicles of Barset.) Highly recommended, but start at the beginning.
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have just loved all of her books, and this one is about the best it can get. Her books are all about the human interactions that take place within the realm of religion, specifically the Anglican Church in England. The clergy get up to all sorts of power struggles and mischief, yet there is always divine providence working for good.
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: overdrive-audio
Very satisfying read, rich with spiritual truth. I of course began this series with the last book (because that was the one available as a audiobook from my local library), but from what I understand, each book in the series can stand alone. I can see how a second or third read would unreel additional layers. I shall never look at Romans 8:28 in the same way again.
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this one a little verbose, but still, a fitting end to an enthralling series. As I'm not a religious person, it's a tribute to Susan Howatch's writing, that I was so drawn in to this series of stories of clergymen yet. I'm glad I read it on my iPad, because I often needed to use the dictionary function to define many theological terms!
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the last book in the series first! Actually, I listened to the audio. It was very well done. Riveting story. Multi-layered and suspenseful but also with deep theological implications. And a tribute to Anglicanism. And fascinating that it included a spiritual director--though he was a little more involved than most. Now I can work backwards through the series.
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anglican christians
A strong story of guilt, immorality, and deception transformed through renewal, redemption, and resurrection; my favourite quote coming from pg 661 [I’ll add that to my Goodreads Quotes]. I remember coming away from this last book pondering deeply as to the rational and irrational mechanisms that humans use in order to try and make sense of their world and of their relationships in that world.
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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)
  • Glittering Images (Starbridge, #1)
  • Glamorous Powers (Starbridge, #2)
  • Ultimate Prizes (Starbridge, #3)
  • Scandalous Risks
  • Mystical Paths (Starbridge, #5)
“You have here a parable, the subject of which might be called The Persistence of Truth … Whatever fears, adversities, or doubts assail you, go forward calmly in the knowledge that the truth persists, and will prove itself in persisting. Though prayer be hard, though your soul walk in darkness, though your spiritual memories be shadowed by many a doubt, go forward secure in the knowledge that the truth of God endureth to all generations, and by its endurance will prove itself the very truth.” REGINALD SOMERSET WARD (1881–1962) Anglican Priest and Spiritual Director THE WAY” 2 likes
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