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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. In 1963, when traditional values are coming under attack, a young woman in her twenties, Venetia Flaxton, becomes disastrously involved with her best friend's father, the powerful, dynamic but ultimately mysterious Dean of Starbridge Cathedral. Yet, as a married man and a senior Churchman, Aysgarth has nothing to offer her but an admiration which spirals out of control into an obsessive love. As Aysgarth begins to take scandalous risks to further their friendship, pressures rise and the dangers multiply. Venetia finds herself trapped in a desperate web of love and lies from which it seems impossible to escape. Witty, compassionate and compelling, Scandalous Risks explores not only the reality of sin and the fantasy of sexual obsession, but the overpowering human need for redemption, love and lasting happiness.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780006496908
ISBN-10: 0006496903
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 130mm x mm)
Pages: 480
Imprint: Harper
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publish Date: 22-Jul-1996
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » Novel number four in Howatch's so-far roundly admirable Anglican Church series is another winner - and somewhat less esoteric than earlier efforts like Glittering Images and Glamorous Powers. It also offers a surprise - a female narrator, instead of Howatch's usual anguished clerical males. She is Venetia Flaxton, a sophisticated society-girl manquee, who turns her back on champagne soirees in London (in the salad days of the Sixties) to seek something more fulfilling - which she finds in the arms of one of England's most eminent churchmen, the Dean of Starbridge Cathedral (read Salisbury, and think of Constable), Neville Aysgarth. Aysgarth is married (to the gorgon Dido) and, as series readers know, has a history of disastrous attachments to younger women; but Venetia doesn't know this and persists in writing him steamy letters (which the foolhardy Aysgarth answers with equal heat), as well as rolling around with him on various National Trust turfs. Meanwhile, having taken a job as secretary to Aysgarth's archrival, the Bishop of Starbridge (a.k.a. Charles Ashworth from Glittering Images), Venetia hears both sides of the liberal-conservative theological debate spiraling around a newly published book called Honest to God, which (with St. Augustine) claims that good Christians need only "love God and do what they like." Stern Ash-worth - who believes that the devil still stalks the world - disagrees in measured arguments, while Aysgarth tells Venetia that his restraint in consummating their affair (though they do just about everything else) proves that even adultery cannot categorically be considered a sin. Predictably, the affair ends tragically, but Howatch isn't so cruel as to leave Venetia without a glimmer of hope - a glimmer to be explored in the next book. Venetia proves a provocative, glib narrator, which makes this installment a bit more frivolous than others in the series. Still, with its wicked humor, splendidly drawn characters, and soupcon of theology, it's certain to amuse and entertain-as well as sell. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - 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.

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