‘THE HIGH FLYER‘
Successful London lawyer Carter Graham has power, sex appeal, and a well-ordered life. Everything has gone according to plan, including her recent marriage to Kim Betz, an investment banker with the right combination of looks and position. On the surface it appears to be a match made in heaven. The only problem is Kim’s ex-wife. Sophie begins to follow Carter like a shadow, making outrageous claims about Kim’s involvement in the occult.
Convincing herself that Sophie is mad, Carter moves ahead with her life. But something is amiss–and as Sophie’s stories are corroborated by other unwelcome disclosures from Kim’s past, Carter is thrown into a terrifying web of suspicion and betrayal, pushing her sanity to the edge. In desperation, Carter seeks help from Nicholas Darrow, the charismatic priest of St. Benet’s Healing Center. Though a religious skeptic, Carter hopes to stem the tide of darkness that threatens to envelop her life–and begins a compelling journey into the very nature of good and evil, wisdom and redemption. . . .
After earning her law degree from King’s College, London, she emigrated to America, where she married her sculptor husband, had a daughter and embarked on her highly successful career as a writer of intricately detailed gothic novels.
After separating from her husband, Susan left America and spent some four years living in the Republic of Ireland, before permanently settling back in England.
It was whilst living in a flat overlooking Salisbury Cathedral, that she found herself so inspired by the beauty of the building and the feeling that it may fill an emptiness in her life, that she began to study Anglican Christianity in earnest.
Susan now found herself wondering if she should continue with her writing career, deciding eventually that she should, but with a new emphasis to focus on novels about the Church of England in the 20th Century, reflecting her own newly discovered spiritual thoughts and views.
Susan has now returned to her roots and lives back in Surrey.
You can check in with Susan on her Facebook page
When I first saw my temporary secretary it never occurred to me to flirt with him.
Even in 1990, when suing for sexual harassment was still considered to be primarily an American activity, an office flirtation would have been considered unwise for a high flyer, and besides, this particular male hardly struck me as being irresistible.
He had curly hair, chocolate-coloured eyes and a chunky, cherubic look.
My taste in men has never encompassed overgrown choirboys
The trouble was that I could not now think of my marriage without being assaulted by a wave of unbearable emotions which I felt quite unable to handle. Rage that Kim should have been deceiving me on such a huge scale, coupled with horror at his disastrous involvement with Mrs. Mayfield, were followed by grief that my love had apparently been a grand illusion, coupled with a violent, unforgiving self-disgust that I should have made such a devastating mess of my personal life …
Nobody suggested that it was my moral duty to visit my husband. Nobody talked about my moral responsibilities as a wife. But Val kept in touch with the doctors at the hospital, Nicholas kept in touch with the senior chaplain there, and now Lewis was talking of keeping in touch with Kim himself. The more I tried to escape from the reality of my shattered marriage, the more my new companions seemed to be quietly drawing my attention back to the husband I was unable to confront.
When you live the dream you live the consequences…
I was looking forward to reading this book, as I had first read Susan Howatch many years ago and could recall enjoying her novels immensely.
The Susan Howatch I remember however, is the one before her religious transformation. When I recall some of the titles of those previously enjoyed novels: Penmarric, Sins Of The Fathers and The Rich Are Different, to name but a few, they are all traditional family sagas with a romantic edge and totally unrecognizable in writing style to The High Flyer.
The High Flyer left me somewhat perplexed and I am still a little unsure of my feelings towards it. It started off as I had expected, with the suspense building nicely from the very first page, hinting at the promise of a really intense psychological drama….
Carter Graham was bombarded by just about every dark thought and revelation possible; from Neo-Nazism, sexual deviance, murder and suicide; to jealousy, malicious harassment and poltergeist movements and sightings.
All this however was tempered evenly with the false love of a demon in disguise, who played with her emotions, then ripped them to shreds in a callous and calculating way, in his dark and disturbing dealings with the occult and the powers of evil, leaving Carter an emotionally drained wreck, on the path to self destruction.
….The second half of the book then switches to Carter’s journey of redemption, cleansing and healing, as she struggles to deal with the feelings of self loathing, despair, hatred, fear and disgust, that are the legacy from this chapter in her life and, as it transpires, going all the way back to her troubled childhood.
Her ‘guardian angel’, who we first meet right at the start of the book, re-appears to show her the way of salvation, which she finds within the unorthodox walls of an inner city church network.
Very unorthodox priests, apply some very unorthodox thoughts and actions, to help Carter understand and come to terms with the healing process that she needs to go through, before she can get her life back on track, maybe even a different and more fulfilling track than she was pursuing before her disastrous encounter with her personal devil incarnate.
These men of the cloth appear to operate just within the boundaries of the church and the ‘blind eye’ of the Diocese officials, performing exorcisms and the ‘laying on of hands’ at regular healing services, but for Carter they are her salvation and a way back from the depths of despair, to a life where the true meaning of love waits for her, when she is ready to open her heart and mind to it.
I am not sure that I ever totally understood the many nuances and undertones of the book. Is it a romance, a suspense thriller, a mystery, a novel about the occult, or a lesson in spiritual and religious belief, or maybe a little of each?
I must admit, that I did find the prolonged religious references not within my usual sphere of reading and not particularly to my liking, however, it is definitely a very well written, perceptive piece of work, which deals with the inner emotions in a sensitive and deeply moving way, whilst providing a strong and emotional plot as a precursor to this journey of what I would describe as ‘self-healing’.
The High Flyer is part of The St. Benet’s trilogy, which takes place in London of the 1980s and 1990s and illustrates the changes which took place in the Anglican Church in those years However, whilst the Church is still at the heart of the books, there is an increased emphasis on characters who are not members of the clergy. Each book in the trilogy is written in the first person by a different narrator and all are stand alone stories.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a 4 out of 5.