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Release Date: July, 2005
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Deftly combining the sacred and the profane—the unmistakable hallmark of her fiction over the past decade—Susan Howatch gives us a spellbinding, suspenseful and psychologically intense new novel.The financial heart of London—the City—is an adrenaline-charged square mile deep in recession in the 1990s, a place where sex is just another commodity to be bought and sold in the marketplace. And the City is where the life of Gavin Blake, who sells sex to high flyers, is finally about to unravel.In the center of the City is St. Benet’s, a church that ministers to the casualties of this affluent but amoral society. Carta Graham, the St. Benet’s fundraiser, is at once attracted to Gavin when they meet through a mutual friend, but slowly she realizes that she has entered a relationship far more complex than she could ever have imagined.Gavin is desperate to escape from his world of prostitution, pornography and violence, but as his involvement with Carta and St. Benet’s deepens, the dangers that encircle him escalate until his life itself is on the line. Carta is determined to help him—but will their mysterious journey together be lifesaving or soul-destroying? All she can do is fight her hardest to help Gavin survive.Consistently surprising and powerfully moving, The Heartbreaker is Susan Howatch’s most gripping novel yet.From the Hardcover edition.
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Posted by a reader on 3/9/2006
This is a book that is unusually in this age, brave enough to confront head on the psychological damage caused by the sex industry and in a wider sense the sexual revolution. Gavin, the principle narrator is a male prostitute. Initially he portrays himself as an adorable, cheeky bundle of sexual relief. He describes his physical attributes and the attention he gives to taking care of them with loving detail. However, as the novel progresses and Gavin recounts the indignities of his life as an escort with an increasingly forced gaiety, the reader witnesses his gradual realisation of his emotional and physical enslavement in a manner which is truly heart-rending.
Hope comes in the form of an accidental meeting with Carta Graham a business associate of one of Gavin's former clients who was also damaged by Gavin's female pimp, the erstwhile psychic Elizabeth Mayfield. This meeting allows Gavin to finally see an escape route from his life. However Elizabeth Mayfield has exceedingly powerful and rather evil friends so the crux of this novel is whether Gavin will manage to extricate himself alive, literally.
It sounds trite to say this is a novel about redemption but redemption is its main theme. It is through the support and love of Rev. Nicholas Darrow et al., that Gavin is able to rediscover his worth as a human being from being valued simply as an attractive piece of flesh. The power of this novel comes from the dramatic contrast between the insidious but very 'grand guignol' evil of Gavin's pimp and her henchmen and the innate goodness of the characters in Nicholas Darrow's healing ministry. This contrast reaches its zenith in a dinner party conversation about the merits of Christinaity vis á vis the occult between Nicholas Darrow the charismatic reverend and Elizabeth Mayfield's principal ally, a very sinister character described by Gavin as a Westminster mandarin whose name escapes at present.
A great storyteller continues her work!
Posted by M. Sullivan on 7/5/2004
I discovered Susan Howatch just a few years ago, and since then have read everything she has written. She is an incredible storyteller, and always was; but as her life-experience and wisdom have grown, her books have gone from flat (early in her career) to very, very multidimensional (at a peak with her Starbridge series and continued here.) I pre-ordered this book so that I'd have it when it was finally released, and I was not disappointed when I got it and read it!
Susan Howatch takes the reader into whole new worlds: the minds of each character and their perspective, the different philosophies and theologies and historical details that she researches and presents so seamlessly in her stories, and a view of Christianity that is a wonderful marriage of Orthodox Christianity in all its varieties with a full, modern understanding of psychology and sociology.
This novel will appeal to anyone who is bright and well-read because of the combination of a great story, well-developed characters, and a very intriguing view of the world!
Back with the pack at St. Benet's
Posted by Richard LeComte on 5/6/2004
Susan Howatch continues to surprise and amaze us with her series of books that probe the far reaches of Christianity and the history of 20th-century Britain, starting with "Glittering Images." This edition may be the most surprising of all, as about half is told in the voice of a rent boy named Gavin. Like all her narrators, Gavin finds that all his self-deceptions explode until all that's left is ready for the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. This is an explicit book, but Howatch has never flinched from sex -- after all, sex is a part of our life with God, and what can keep us from God. I was spellbound, Followers of her work from the Starbridge series will be delighted with the ending -- will the loose ends still dangling from the smash-up ending of "Mystical Paths," hinted at in "The Wonder Worker," finally be tied up? Anyway, Howatch combines the narrative inventiveness of a potboiler with characters we've come to love, particularly Nicholas Darrow, Carta Graham and the rascal Lewis Hall. One key plot point is a little obvious for people who have read her previous books, "The Wonder Worker" and "The High Flyer," but we can forgive her for that -- in a way it adds to our delight and enjoyment as we wait for the other characters to figure out what's going on.