Glittering Images by Susan Howatch


When the Archbishop of Canterbury sends a canon to uncover evidence of sexual misconduct in the home of one of his bishops, a mare’s nest of scandal erupts and the canon must face hard truths about the hypocrisies in his life.

I wasn’t crazy about the style of this book–page after page of psychoanalytically-influenced dialogue between hyperarticulate and hyperaware characters–but the themes were intriguing. The glittering image of the title refer to the face that each of the characters presents to the world, masking the true insecurities and sins beneath. Howatch does a remarkable job of pulling her characters out from behind these images, then showing them slip back behind them in denial and fear. I also thought the book was an intriguing exploration of sin and lies, and took a realistic, complex approach to human sexuality and behavior (unlike most sanitized “Christian” fiction). I am very interested in the history of the 20th Century church, so I enjoyed peeking behind the curtain at the Anglicans.

The next book in the series, Glamorous Powers, follows the character in Glittering Images that I found the most fascinating, so I will definitely be picking that one up.


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