I love Howatch. She has an amazing way of fleshing out characters, equipping them with the most bizarre qualities yet make them seem so believable.
Except for The High Flyer, I have loved all her books. In this set there are three great stories. The first one is a bit of a period story whereas the other two are set in a more modern period. But there is timelessness to it all. After all, she is dealing in human frailites and the psychology of the mind. The stories reveal that though we may have become modern in our lifestyle and attire, the human mind is the same.
The Shrouded Walls is about a young bride who gets married for convienience. Just as she is about to fall in love with him, she finds herself in a wierd set of circumstances where she doesn't know if she can trust the husband after all.
The second story is about a set of twins - one good the other bad. April is the bad twin who wreaks havoc in her sister's marriage and is reported to have taken off. No one realises she is missing and when the search gets underway, it takes the reader through many secrets before getting to the revelation.
The third story is my favourite. It is about witchcraft masquerading as a nature foods society and how it affects the people who come in contact with it.
- The stories more or less have a pattern. Do you really know the person you love? How circumstances can trust your faith and love in a person.
- Howatch's characters are a bit weird but they are distinct. You can identify their traits and wonder how Howatch manages to get them act the way they do.
- She keeps the pace very well. I was hooked with the last story where I wanted to know if Tristan will win his way after all. The way she presents the denouement is a masterstroke of a gifted story teller.
- The language is so fluid that it just carries the story along without any bumps or hiccups.
There isn't anything.
A great read. Howatch is a master of the story whether it is the long form - novel or the crispier version - short story.