The Choice

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

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.  Dismissing David’s claim that they are in love, Clarissa is obliged to act. Will she choose friendship or conscience, sympathy or her official duty of care?

The fallout from that choice forces her to reflect on the original controversy over Wemlock’s panels and her concerns about his relationship with his teenage models.  Had she heeded the whispers that reached her 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.  It examines the fault lines in both religious and secular society, from the AIDS crisis and the struggle for women’s ordination in the 1980s to the culture wars of today.  Richly comic and deeply compassionate, The Choice is a remarkable synthesis of the sacred and profane.