The Choice Reviews

‘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

‘A book that probes any number of aggressive varieties of moralism, while testing the reader’s own moral alertness for rigour, realism and generosity.  An engrossing, three-dimensional, grown-up narrative.’
Rowan Williams

‘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.  THE CHOICE is about a future woman priest who, while working for the BBC’s Religious Affairs unit, interviews a painter of remarkable talent. Arrogant, aristocratic and charismatic, Wemlock claims to share Clarissa’s faith, but it slowly becomes clear has a very different interpretation of innocence and sin to her own.  Many years later, when she has become the first female rector of his rural parish, with the power to reveal what lies beneath Wemlock’s masterpiece about the Creation, she faces a number of harrowing challenges. Does great art justify sin? Is God responsible for the evil in the world?  Brilliantly ambiguous, waspishly witty and thoroughly enjoyable, this is Michael Arditti’s own masterpiece to date.’
Amanda Craig

‘Michael Arditti’s magnificent novel is the first to place a woman priest at the centre of what proves to be an irresistibly readable, thoughtful and characteristically witty examination of the quandaries and compromises faced by the Church of England in an era of decline. Clarissa Phipps is a wonderful creation, as is Seward Wemlock, the artist whose wayward private life calls into question the cycle of paintings that he has bestowed upon his parish church. I loved this book for its lightness of touch about serious subjects and for dialogue that glitters like clashing rapiers.’
Miranda Seymour 

‘Michael Arditti’s 13th novel, The Choice, is full of tough moral conundrums.  The central dilemma facing Clarissa Phipps, the rector of St Peter’s Church in Tapley, Cheshire, is particularly knotty.  Should she remove the church’s panels depicting a troubling sensuous Eden, painted by the degenerate artist Seward Wemlock in the 1980s, or leave them to stand?  Can, in short, an artist’s life ever be dissociated from their work?  This is a hot potato, one which Arditti grapples with endless reserves of theological nuance.  By juxtaposing Clarissa’s choice with others she has to make in her life (and the original choices made by Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit), he amplifies the moral complexities behind our hardest decisions… In a novel bursting with intellectual richness and joyously acidic dialogue, it’s fitting he ends on a deliciously poised note – a question rather than an answer.’
Jude Cook, Spectator

‘The Choice is a satisfyingly solid novel.  It is splendidly old-fashioned.  Its theme is clear.  There is a good story.  The characters are well-rounded and credible.  It is concerned with morality and questions of morality, and this is pleasing partly because it is rare today to read something which is concerned with themes of right and wrong rather than merely with today’s fashionable prejudices.  Arditti is also that unusual thing, a serious Christian novelist, an English counterpart of the American Marilynne Robinson, and in the same class as her… He has given us a novel very much for our time, good enough to be for all time, too.’
Allan Massie, The Scotsman

The Choice is a comedy of village infighting and a searching exploration of morality in these days of strident certitude.’
Rose Shepherd, Saga

‘Past sins, present values, forgiveness and redemption all inform this subtle modern morality tale.  But it is the sheer human misery and lifelong damage done by abuse that are most harrowing and make The Choice such a compelling read.’
Peter Stanford, The Observer

‘Michael Arditti’s latest novel explores the timeless difficulty of doing the right thing.  It also, in a clever, questioning narrative that covers love, art, sex and spirituality, explores why doing the wrong thing often feels so right… The Choice is an intelligent and entertaining novel that handles lightly problems of great moral weight.  Clarissa faces many hard choices and unearths many horrors, but in the end, for her and for the reader, it is all worth it.’
Christopher Shrimpton, Guardian

‘How clever for Arditti to alight on the perfect combination of matters ecclesiastical and artistic for his latest novel, which spans the battle for female ordination to today’s culture wars… From primary school battles over relationship classes, to HR clashes over the use of gendered language, Arditti is emphatically across the cultural zeitgeist.  The scope and momentum produce a compelling read.’
Susie Mesure, Financial Times

‘An absorbing family drama.’
Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail

‘It is rare these days to find a novel about religion which is neither aggressively dismissive nor piously simplistic.  If you provocatively add sex into the mix, you need a delicate touch with character and a sense of humour.  Michael Arditti, fortunately, has both.  The Choice is a glittering satire, which amuses even as it provokes serious questions of aesthetics and morality.’
Angela Tilby, Church Times

‘The Choice is many things.  It is full of rich and engrossing characters and exquisite writing.  It delves into dangerous and provocative territory with sensitivity and integrity. It poses profound moral questions for its readers.  And on top of that, it is very funny.’
Massimo Gava, Dante

‘Not for the first time, Arditti has delivered a complex moral fable with skill and aplomb.’
Max Davidson, Mail on Sunday

‘A work which skilfully combines many of Arditti’s strengths as a writer in one engrossing story. He has a deep understanding both of religion and the way faith operates in the human heart and also of the bureaucracy of the Anglican Church. He knows an enormous amount about art and he’s informed and compassionate about current debates, many of which appear in the book… I loved it and urge you to read it.
Adèle Geras, Reviews by Writers

‘Contemporary moral debate underpins this clever, provocative novel that asks whether art can be separate from the artist.’
Sally Morris, The Oldie

‘Clarissa is the centrepiece of a jigsaw of characters and conundrums, and the intricacies of life in a Cheshire village are acutely observed as tragedy and comedy walk hand in hand. Arditti leads us on a journey that is challenging, mischievous and extremely satisfying.’
Neil Norman, Daily Express