Scandalous Risks Summary
by Susan Howatch

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Scandalous Risks

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Lord Flaxton loves his five children deeply, yet none of them shares his interests or concerns. He is delighted, then, when his sixth child, Venetia—the product of an unexpected pregnancy—proves to be the intellectual equal he has so long desired.

Still, Venetia is after all a woman, and not a great success in the context of British society in the early 1960’s. She is entirely too bright, too witty for anything other than spinsterhood. Lord Flaxton is not concerned, but Venetia is less than pleased. She flees the family hearth to embark on an odyssey to exchange pseudo-manhood for womanhood.

Exceedingly vulnerable in her new persona, Venetia falls into a destructive relationship with an older man. And not just any older man, but her father’s oldest friend and the father of her oldest friend. Needless to say, the relationship proves disastrous for all concerned.

SCANDALOUS RISKS continues the theological and historical treatment of the Church of England so admirably begun in GLITTERING IMAGES. Although the various volumes may be read independently, the reader is encouraged to begin at the beginning. For those unacquainted with the Starbridge saga, however, SCANDALOUS RISKS is an excellent beginning. Howatch builds her novels in the manner of a Gothic cathedral—painstakingly, with considerable skill and using only the finest materials.