cover image Glamorous Powers

Glamorous Powers

Susan Howatch. Alfred A. Knopf, $18.95 (403pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57145-4

Jon Darrow is the Anglican priest and abbot with a charismatic presence and psychic abilities who figured in a small but memorable way in Howatch's Glittering Images , to which this is a sequel. Darrow's ``glamorous powers'' are both a blessing and a curse: he is subject to intense visions which may come directly from Godor from the Devil. Set during the early years of WW II, and told in the first person, the narrative appropriately holds the reader spellbound by the hints and gradual revelation of Darrow's character. The novel opens with a vision that Darrow interprets as God's instruction to leave his religious order and return to serve Him in the world. But he is forced to work with his superior, an old enemy, to ascertain whether this was indeed a true vision from God, and he finds himself revealing more and more of his life and motivations. When he does leave, the strain of the upheaval and the subsequent events provoke an intense spiritual crisis and breakdown; but this signals the collapse of the spiritually arrogant, intellectually superior persona that Jon Darrow had created to protect himself from the pain of being. In this witty, wise novel, the question, ``Does God exist?'' is always understood and, true to life, ambiguously answered. Howatch assures her readers that a third novel, about a peripheral but minor character here, is on its way. 75,000 first printing; BOMC alternate . (November)