Saturday, 1 August 2015

The High Flyer - Susan Howatch

A disappointing read from one of my favourite authors.

I have loved her books. Wheel of Fortune was the best and her insight and killer observation are amazing. However, when I picked this one without even bothering to read the jacket cover, it left me surprised, shocked and well let down.


Unlike most of her novels, this is a modern one set in the 90s. Carter Graham is this ambitous high flyer doing very well in her work. She has plans of peaking her career and then settling down that way she has both the worlds.

She meets Kim another high flyer like her with similar outlook. They marry and just when life looks perfect, Kim's mysterious past catches up with him. He has an ex-wife who is stalking him. Initially seen a bit of bother, turns into something more sinister and Carter begins to doubt everything around her and ends up having a crisis which is not only domestic but more spiritual in nature.

What works:
  • Howatch's characters are always well rounded and accessible. It is not too difficult to connect with them and be a part of their lives.
  • Howatch has a bit dated but an engaging way of laying out her characters and her plot and for those familiar with her style enjoy the way she does it.

What doesn't:
  • The transformation of the Carter from an atheist to a person filled with doubts is a bit too much.
  • I read somewhere that Howatch too went through a period of doubts and found God eventually. Perhaps Carter was just her mouthpiece to lay out her experience, however it sours the experience for the reader.
  • The plot after a point begins to weigh on the reader, turning it into a more personal piece rather than a piece of fiction. 
  • The impressive personality of Carter comes to nothing when you see how she ends being this confused soul who has lost direction and puts herself in the hands of others. It does not strike a chord with the reader in any way and makes the reading a boring experience.

Despite being a hard core Howatch fan, I couldn't finish the book, leaving it midway not caring to find out what happened to Carter in the end. It left this reader cheated and not worth pursuing it all the way through. 

I feel bad about leaving it half finished. My reasoning however is this; I would rather leave with some semblance of enjoyment from it rather than be miserable by the end of the reading experience. 

Some may believe that not having read it through, perhaps I should not have the right to pass judgement about it. But for me more than getting to the end, its the journey thats more important. 

Don't you think?

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