The Choice

Michael Arditti


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Quercus Publishing
1 June 2023
ISBN: 9781529425758
416 pages

From the publisher

A rich and powerful exploration of desire, sin and redemption, by one of our best chroniclers of faith in the 21st century.

"I enjoyed it enormously. The story is so interesting, the theme so important and pertinent, and the fluency and lightness of touch so engaging to read" PHILIP PULLMAN

"[Arditti] has given us a novel very much for our time, good enough to be for all time, too" The Scotsman

"An engrossing, three-dimensional, grown-up narrative" ROWAN WILLIAMS

"The perfect combination of matters ecclesiastical and artistic" Financial Times

"Bursting with intellectual richness and joyously acidic dialogue" The Spectator

"A compelling read" Observer

" I loved this book for its lightness of touch about serious subjects and for dialogue that glitters like clashing rapiers" MIRANDA SEYMOUR

"An intelligent and entertaining novel that handles lightly problems of great moral weight" Guardian

As a woman in the early 1980s, Clarissa Phipps is unable to pursue her priestly vocation. Instead, she joins the BBC, where she is sent to interview the artist Seward Wemlock about the panels he is painting for an ancient Cheshire church.

"A serious and important writer" ROSE TREMAIN

Thirty years on, now rector of that same church, she chances upon Brian, the chief bell-ringer and husband of her closest friend, fondling fifteen-year-old David. David claims they are in love, but Clarissa is obliged to act. Will she choose friendship or conscience, sympathy or her duty of care?

The fallout from that choice forces her to reflect on past concerns over Wemlock's relationship with his teenage models. Had she heeded the whispers at the time, how many lives - her own included - would have turned out differently?

The Choice is a rich and powerful exploration of desire, sin and redemption, questioning whether it's possible, let alone prudent, to separate the art from the artist, which reaches to the heart of the contemporary culture wars. Richly comic and deeply compassionate, it is a remarkable synthesis of the sacred and profane.

"At a time when British fiction has never been more timorous about tackling novels of ideas, Michael Arditti has produced one worthy of Iris Murdoch and Graham Greene. Brilliantly ambiguous, waspishly witty and thoroughly enjoyable, this is Michael Arditti's own masterpiece to date" AMANDA CRAIG