chapter  7
19 Pages

Reflective reading, faith, and transformation in Susan Howatch’s Church of England novels

ByKaryn Sproles

Each of Susan Howatch's six novels dramatizing the evolution of the Church of England in the twentieth century replicates the structure of a classic psychoanalysis. Initiated by the analysand's faith in the analyst's authority, transference occurs as the analysand shifts the powerful emotional responses he has for others onto the analyst. The novels help us better understand the analytic process even as the analytic process gives us one way to understand the novels. The novels perform the difficult task of representing a character who vividly describes his emotional responses, thus making himself available for identification, who actually works through trauma and pulls the reader along. It is a common experience in psychoanalysis to discover that one is closer than one thinks. Symptoms go away seemingly by themselves after the exploration of trauma that is not obviously related. The reader experiences enormous security in the conventional nature of Howatch's novels.