28 Sep 2016

(The St Benet's Trilogy #1) A QUESTION OF INTEGRITY.

A QUESTION OF INTEGRITY (Also published in certain countries as The Wonder Worker) by SUSAN HOWATCH.

BACK COVER BLURB: When Alice, shy, dumpy, bored and unhappy with herself, wanders the City of London during her lunch hour, she stumbles without warning into a situation which will revolutionise her life. She discovers a modern but mysterious healing centre and is drawn inexorably into the lives of the people who work there.

There's Lewis, the irascible traditionalist, a priest of the old school who has problems dealing with women, homosexuals and the liberal spirit of the age; Rosalind, who appears so glamorous and successful but is in truth unhappy and unfulfilled; Francie, a woman who may or may not be deluded but who burns above all to be loved; and finally Nicholas, the flawed priest at the centre of it all.

FIRST SENTENCE {Part One ~ Alice: The Romantic Dream: Chapter One}: I can remember exactly when the miracles began.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 516}: My whole consciousness seemed to shift and bend almost to breaking point before snapping agonisingly into a new and unbearable position. It was like an earthquake: the grinding roar followed by the ear-splitting cracks as the earth ruptured and re-formed at lightning speed. I had been obsessed, obsessed, OBSESSED - as obsessed as this mad woman in front of me, and in Francie's shining eyes I finally saw my own insanity reflected. (Text hidden in case of a spoiler. Simply scroll over to hi-light. TT)

SOURCE: On my TBR mountain for that long I can't actually remember where I obtained it.

MY THOUGHTS: A novel of what is essentially five parts. I thought it interesting that the author chose to 'get into the heads' of the individual characters so to speak. A ploy that may not have worked as well as it did, as it was it provided a multi-faceted perspective of events as we heard firstly from Alice, then from Lewis, Rosalind and Nicholas (also known as Nick/Nicky) before coming back full-circle to a much changed Alice again. It's just a shame that though featured throughout we never get to hear directly from Stacy, a young priest, who though under-used was one of my favourites.

One of those novels that if asked you'd have difficulty pinpointing just why you'd enjoyed it so much. Despite its many flaws ...
  • The so-so, arguably stereotypical, characters. The overweight Alice with low self esteem. Lewis, the elderly, border-line alcoholic priest with a panache for the politically incorrect.
  • The over-use of certain catch phrases. I lost count how many times I read the words 'a woman of integrity' used to describe Alice's aunt, the words 'wonder worker' used by Rosalind. Both, depending on the publisher/book title (the novel was published as both A Question Of Integrity and The Wonder Worker) of course being key words in the title.
  • The bizarre turn of events. Set in a healing ministry. What could be said to be a novel of every day ministry as Nicholas came to the aid of a grieving Alice all became a bit, well, surreal, as (hoping I don't give too much away here) one of the characters is declared if not exactly possessed, 'heavy with a demonic infestation
  • How predictable it was. The above aside I found myself several steps ahead of events throughout so no particularly big surprises ....
oddly enough I thought A Question Of Integrity a compelling read that I found myself still reading well into the wee small hours.

A Question Of Integrity was read for Kelly's Tome Challenge.


13 comments:

Kelly said...

I have to admit that, despite the flaws you list, this really does appeal to me. I guess it works okay as a stand-alone? (since it's listed as a trilogy) I might research it a little further.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I aways figure that if it is entertaining and holds my interest then having a lot of flaws is fine. :) Brilly review!

Suko said...

Isn't it nice to reduce the size of your TBR mountain? I'm glad you enjoyed this book, flaws and all. Wonderful review, Tracy, as usual!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Sometimes things you wouldn't normally LOVE in most books work or at least don't bother you in others! Thanks for sharing.

Brian Joseph said...

Cliched characters and cliched phrases will often ruin a book for me. With that, I can see how a narrative can keep someone interested despite such flaws. One has to wonder how good the book would have been if the writer had avoided such things.

Sherry Ellis said...

I like the opening sentence. In spite of its flaws, it seems like it would still be a good read.

Melliane said...

It sounds interesting but I don't know, not sure it's for me

The Bookworm said...

Glad you enjoyed A Question Of Integrity after all.

Literary Feline said...

Sometimes the story and characters are interesting enough to keep us interested and enjoying a book despite its flaws. This sounds really interesting!

Barbara Fisher said...

Interesting, I might well give this one a go. I had no idea Susan Howatch had written so many books until I just Googled her. I’ve read one or two in the past (although I can’t remember the titles at the moment) and always enjoyed them.

So many books, so little time said...

It sounds different, I quite like that

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I too have so many books that have been sat on my shelves forever. I am getting to the stage now though, that I often look at them, then put them back, as some of the storylines look so dated! I think that a good cull might be in order, although I really do hate losing a book before I have read it ... What a dilemma!

I prefer some of Susan Howatch's earlier books, although I did read one of the other books in the series you have started (The High Flyer). I had pretty much the same thoughts about the storyline, characters etc. So I guess her writing style changed completely in this, her second phase of writing and after she had become decidedly more religious in her outlook on life.

Great that you managed to make some finger space on your shelf though :)

Yvonne.

Gina R said...

I agree with the others, the flaws don't seem to detract from the appeal. Thanks for the share!