Susan Howatch

British writer

Susan Howatch (born 14 July 1940) is an English author.



Part 1: Robert

  • A rational disposition must necessarily preclude a romantic outlook in life, and only the failures of this world can afford to dispense with a rational disposition.
  • Recovering from an ill-starred romance is, after all, to anyone of sufficient will-power and self-respect, purely an attitude of mind.
  • Boredom on social occasions is an inescapable hazard for the over-educated, and for the over-ambitious it must be endured.
  • Man cannot live on charm alone, and an ambitious man cannot live on anything less than wealth, good social connections and substantial political influence.
  • One must be rational about such matters and being rational need not mean being cold.
  • Romance is the opiate of the dissatisfied, it anaesthesises them from the pain of their disordered second-rate lives [...] If romance is the opiate of the dissatisfied then surely nostalgia is the opiate of the disillusioned, for those who see all their dreams come true and find themselves living in a nightmare.
  • 'But never mind, all the best heroines are beautiful orphans, abandoned to their fate, and the one thing that's certain about my situation is that I'm going to be a heroine when I grow up.'
    'Can I be a hero?'
    'Well, I suppose you can try. But you'll have to try very hard.'
  • 'Friendship's best,' I said, 'and friendship's forever because no baby can come along to spoil it.'
  • 'To be distracted is pardonable. To be incoherent is simply unobliging.'
  • 'Success on that scale don't make for happiness. Look at Asquith. Why does he drink? I wouldn't want you to end up a drunkard like that.'
  • Again, be patient. And have courage. Remember, everything passes, even the most unspeakable horrors.
  • 'Acquiring carnal knowledge is like swimming in the sea ... The sea's so beautiful to look at, so wonderful to swim in, but you must never bathe unless it's safe. People so often drown in the sea and some coasts are so very dangerous, ... like the Coast of Gower.'
  • 'There are standards of immorality as well as standards of morality, Robert. Make sure yours are high.'
  • Death had won my three friends; Death had almost won me. But now I was the one who was going to win and I was going to win by outwitting Death over and over again ... To compete with Death, as I had discovered in the mountains, was to know one was alive.
  • 'The English don't have opinions about the Irish. They have prejudices.'
  • 'Little girls don't stay playmates. Little girls become big girls and big girls become sweethearts.'
  • 'Barbarity's everywhere, that's the truth of it. Absolutely anyone is capable of absolutely anything.'
    'My dear Papa, I had no idea you were such a cynic!'
    'That's not cynicism, that's honesty — as you well know, dealing with criminals as you do, seeing the human race continually at its worst.'

Part 2: Ginevra

  • 'I deserve to be thought a coward. I am a coward. I'm just so bloody afraid of dying — of losing —'
'Anyone in their right frame of mind should be afraid of dying. That doesn't mean you're a coward.'
  • Every woman needs a special friend of her own sex with whom she can 'have a haircombing' about everything from menstruation to male monsters, and Julie had become that kind of special friend.
  • 'I could always walk out on a husband. But I could never turn my back on a friend.'

Part 3: John

  • Distrust grows out of lies. Wrong-doing grows out of distrust. Tragedy grows out of wrong-doing. But out of honesty grows love and love's so powerful, it'll be like a suit of armour, protecting Robert, protecting you.

Part 4: Kester

  • '... we have to be kind, we have to be charitable and we can't condemn people just because they get in a mess...even the best people can get into ghastly messes,...we must never judge other people too harshly because although they can make awful mistakes they can still be very nice people.'

Part 5: Harry

  • True doppelgängers should never meet face-to-face, you know.
  • What a bloody jungle income tax is! It's a wonder we don't all go on strike and refuse to pay.
  • More tears. Disgraceful. I was getting just like Kester, weeping at the drop of a hat, but of course I was Kester. I'd become him, and now there was just this other stranger who wrote me debonair notes and who sounded just like me.

Part 6: Hal

  • 'He wasn't just being selfish, he was being realistic. Marriage would have been very difficult if not downright impossible.'
'Marriage is always very difficult if not downright impossible,' said my father.
'Oh Harry, for God's sake forget I mentioned the group therapy! Run off and listen to a string quartet!'
  • Christ, all you psychiatrists think about is sex — sex, sex, sex, sex, sex ...
  • Life's for living, not for mourning ... Live in the present, not the past.
  • Sexual desire has to be dead as a doornail before a man and a woman can be genuinely at peace in a platonic relationship.
  • Ghosts, unshriven souls, psychological hang-ups — they all exist in the mind to put people through hell — they're just different ways [...] of looking at a given situation.
  • 'Bloody men! sometimes I feel I hate them all.'
'Your God slipped up. She should have created just one sex, women, and arranged for reproduction by cloning.'
  • The one advantage of being childless is that one can choose one's children and so avoid the bizarre game of chance in which one passes one's best — or one's worst — genes to one's poor innocent offspring.
  • Kester wrote about people and since human nature doesn't change his observations hadn't dated.
  • But magic can't operate without a magician, and being a magician can beat a man to his knees.
  • Redemption's just a word and as I'm not a Christian it means nothing to me.
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