Read Penmarric by Susan Howatch Online


Set against the starkly beautiful landscape of Cornwall, PENMARRIC is the totally enthralling saga of a family divided against itself. At the center of the novel is the great mansion called Penmarric. It is to Penmarric that Mark Castallack, a proud, strange, and sensitive man, brings his bride Janna--the first act in a tempestuous drama that was to span three generations.Set against the starkly beautiful landscape of Cornwall, PENMARRIC is the totally enthralling saga of a family divided against itself. At the center of the novel is the great mansion called Penmarric. It is to Penmarric that Mark Castallack, a proud, strange, and sensitive man, brings his bride Janna--the first act in a tempestuous drama that was to span three generations.......

Title : Penmarric
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780449206225
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 704 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Penmarric Reviews

  • Alex is The Romance Fox
    2019-04-03 06:02

    I love family sagas and Susan Howatch has written some amazing books about feuding families, intrigue, greed and complicated love and I discovered her writing when I first read this book years ago.An enthralling story that spans 3 generations of the Casttallack and how their obsession with owning Penmarric,a mansion situated in the stark and beautiful area of Cornwall, causes the family to be divided for ever.The characters are great and liked the way the story is told through the different members of the family.I have read this book a few times and when I read it again I enjoyed it just as much.I will probably read it again someday. It’s that kind of book.PS....Having read my initial review and comments from fellow GR's brought this magical story back to me all over again.......I think I might just read it again...soon.

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-04-04 00:05

    Penmarric, Susan HowatchSet against the starkly beautiful landscape of Cornwall, PENMARRIC is the totally enthralling saga of a family divided against itself. At the center of the novel is the great mansion called Penmarric. It is to Penmarric that Mark Castallack, a proud, strange, and sensitive man, brings his bride Janna--the first act in a tempestuous drama that was to span three generations....تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و دوم ماه نوامبر سال 2003 میلادیعنوان: پنماریک : تنی ها و ناتنی ها؛ نویسنده: سوزان هوواچ؛ مترجم: ابراهیم یونسی؛ تهران، نگاه، 1381، در 936 ص؛ شابک: 9643510751؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی قرن 20 مپنماریک نام عمارت و قلعه ای کهن است و داستان روایت سرگذشت خانواده‌ ای اشرافی که اعضای آن همه کمر به دشمنی با یکدیگر بسته‌ اند، مرکز رویداد داستان همین پنماریک است، که بیشتر وقایع در آن می‌گذرد. رمان در واقع زندگانی سه نسل از افراد خانواده است. ا. شربیانی

  • Misfit
    2019-04-18 07:25

    Penmarric begins as Mark Castallack and his mother Maud, cheated out of their inheritance by a scheming relative, wage a years long court battle to regain possession of the lands of Penmar and the great house that sits upon it, Penmarric. After twelve years and almost losing hope, fate takes a turn as the wastrel son of the current owner dies and a very young Mark is named heir to all of it. Mark marries Janna, who is ten years older, and has a bit of a surprise in store for him from a past relationship – but then Mark has one or two surprises for Janna as well. Building their family dynasty as the new owners of Penmarric, Janna and Mark slowly drift apart until an accidental meeting forever changes their lives, although a new one also begins as a result of that violent night.Told in five "books", each one in the first person POV of Mark, Janna, and three of Mark's sons, the family's story takes the reader from Cornwall of the late 19C into the 20C through WWII as the next generation of Castallacks battle for ownership of the Penmar estate and the power that comes with it. The middle of the book was bit slow at times, although I _loved_ the last two books telling Phillip's and Jan's stories and the always volatile relationship between the two brothers and their constant battle to be named heir.If you like those big fat family sagas set in the past with feuding back-biting siblings I'd definitely give this one a whirl - although this one has quite a twist that you don't normally see in a book - the Castallack family and their story parallels that of Henry II, Eleanor, Richard I (the Lionheart) and the always delightfully evil King John. Ultimately, that is half the fun of this book for those reasonably familiar with Henry and his devil's brood - can you pick out which of Mark's sons are young Hal, Geoffrey, Richard and John? Henry's fate after the ultimate betrayal by his sons? Spot Rosamund Clifford, the illegitimate sons Geoffrey and William Longspee? And best of all is how the author resolves the mystery that still haunts us to this day - the ultimate fate of young Arthur, John's rival claimant to the throne of England.All in all a pretty darn good read, and I plan on trying a few more from this author. Apparently she continues her “Plantagenet” saga with two more books, Cashelmara and Wheel of Fortune dealing with the three Edwards. I understand John of Gaunt is in the latter and I very much hope she throws Katherine Swynford in there as well. I’m sorely torn between four and five stars so I’ll call it 4.5 rounded up to 5.

  • Anna
    2019-04-04 03:26

    I loved Cashelmara (4 stars) and The Wheel of Fortune (5 stars), and was really looking forward to Penmarric, another in Howatch's series paralleling the lives of the infamous Plantagenets. Sadly though it missed on every level, from the weak characterisations to the rambling storytelling. How can a tale based on the dynastic Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their Devil's Brood feel so flat, so empty, so dull? Where was the passion, the scheming, the treachery? Had I been reading it alone, I'd have given up after struggling to the half way point, but this was a buddy-read with my good friend Jemidar and we persevered together, slogging through the worst of it, hoping that things would improve; they eventually did, in the form of the final section which is based on Bad King John. I was glad I made it to this part as it gave glimpses of previous Howatch works, but although this part saved the book from being a 1 star turkey, I can give it no more than 2 very disappointed and worn-out stars. After Cashelmara and The Wheel of Fortune, I just don't know what happened here.

  • Jane
    2019-03-25 05:05

    I fell in love with ‘Penmarric’ years ago, when I was still at school, from the very first sentences.“I was ten years old when I first saw Penmarric and twenty years old when I first saw Janna Roslyn, but my reaction to both was identical.”I had to read on, and I was gripped from start to finish. I read every other book by Susan Howatch I could find. I liked some more than others, but all have something to recommend them. But my favourites were the three big books that reset stories from mediaeval history in the more recent past. ‘Penmarric,’ ‘Cashelmara,’ and’ The Wheel of Fortune.’And most of all I loved ‘Penmarric’.Mark Castellack’s mother, Maud, had one ambition – one obsession – that she fought for with every weapon at her disposal. To regain Penmarric, the family eastate that her father had left to a distant cousin rather that his only surviving child. Because she was a girl. Maud won in the end. Mark inherited Penmarric. But her victory came at a price.The story is told in six volumes, by five different narrators: Mark Castellack, his wife, one of his illegitimate sons, and two of his legitimate sons who would, in their turn, be master of Penmarric. Sixty years pass – from the later years of Queen Victoria’s reign to the end of World War II full of every kind of family drama you could imagine.In the wrong hands it would be a mess, but Susan Howatch made it work.The foundations are strong: the story that has been set is that of Henry II; his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine; and his sons, among them, Richard the Lionheart and King John. History records that their relationships were troubled, that when the king tried to divide his kingdom his wife and sons opposed him, that she was sent into exile, and that they continued to intrigue, against each other and against their father.It’s a wonderful plot, and the resetting is brilliant. Each chapter is headed with pertinent quotations from serious historical works, and the story picks up the outline and many details without ever seeming tied or compromised. But it doesn’t matter at all if you don’t know the history, because ‘Penmarric’ more that stands up in its own right, as a wonderful, dark, historical family saga.The characters were wonderful; real, three-dimensional human beings. I understood their motivations, their ambitions, their hopes, their dreams, their fears, and I appreciated that life and experience changed them over the years. Though not always for the better. They were infuriating, in many cases they were dislikeable, but they were fascinating.I’m trying not to give away too many details and not to pay favourites but I must: Janna’s journey from farmer’s widow, through a troubled marriage, to a classic matriarch was wonderful; I really took to Phillip, who was a difficult child but grew into a man of strong principles, determined to follow his own path; and I was charmed by Jan-Yves, who was a spoiled brat of a child, but worked things out and grew up eventually.And then there’s the setting. Cornwall, and my particular part of Cornwall. I’m pleased to report that Susan Howatch gets it right, and she brought the world that I live in, in the days of my grandparents and great grandparents, to life so vividly; the people, the places, the traditional Cornish industries, everything was caught perfectly, and pulled into the heart of the story.Everything came together beautifully: story, characters and setting. And the style worked beautifully. Five voices told the story, simply and directly; those voices were distinctive, and they all rang true.‘Penmarric’ is a hefty book – more than 700 pages – but I read it quickly, because I was caught up from start to finish, and I always wanted to know what would happen next, just how events would play out. And I would have been quite happy for it to go on much longer, and the ending did seem a little abrupt. Though at least I could check what should have happened next against real history…It’s not perfect – there are dips in the story, the tone is quite heavy a lot of the time, and important lessons are never learned – but I love it regardless.

  • Jemidar
    2019-03-30 00:15

    Really more like 2.5 stars.I had high expectations for this book and thought I had everything I needed for a great reading experience:1. A book by an author who I had previously read and loved. Check.2. A story and characters based on the lives of the 12th century's favourite dysfunctional family--Henry II of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their devil's brood. Check.3. Wet, cold weather and a 700+ page chunkster to snuggle in with. Check.4. And Anna, my reading buddy, to share the fun with. Check.So what happened? I have absolutely no idea! Was this author really the same one who wrote the fabulous The Wheel of Fortune? I wish I could say it wasn't, but it was. This wasn't a bad book as such as Howatch can certainly string her sentences together and her writing style is quite good, but the dullness was unrelenting. I'm still baffled by how someone can manage to make Henry and Eleanor seem so dull. I'd have thought it impossible. Till now. Where was the passion, intrigue and treachery? Somehow, for 700+ pages I never felt it. And there's nothing worse than slogging away at 700+ pages for little or no payback. Meh just doesn't cut it.So why in the end did I decide on two and a half rounded up to three stars? And not just a plain old two stars? Because towards the end there was a section that was a pastiche of letters to a character serving overseas from various members of his family that was cleverly done and lifted the whole tone towards the end of the book. I just wish the whole book had been like that.A final word of warning, you will find out more about tin mining in Cornwall than you will ever want to know within the pages of this book. I know I did.Buddy read with Anna, whose company made it possible for me to get to the end of this monster. I couldn't have done it on my own, so thank you :).

  • Parisa Bookworm
    2019-04-07 05:59

    داستان خانواده ای از زبان افراد مختلف اون خانواده!تو سبک کتاب های کلاسیکبدون چیز عجیب و غریبی توشو خود پنماریک هم قلعه ای که دست به دست تو خانواده می چرخهبا این حال خیلب روان و راحت پیش میرهترجمه هم خوب بود غیر یه سری کلمات عجیب و غریب که یهو به کار برده میشدمثل الله اکبر یا لا اله الله

  • Philip
    2019-03-30 05:00

    First read this in 1972, then again in the mid-80s, by which time Howatch had also written CASHELMARA, THE RICH ARE DIFFERENT, SINS OF THE FATHERS and THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE.I've just un-boxed my copy and set it on my TBR pile - I think a re-read will be fun. I remember it as a very engrossing story, though when I first read it I had no idea who the characters were inspired by, though Howatch begins each chapter with quotes from historical works - her game here and in others was to take historical characters and put them in another time-frame, so in PENMARRIC we have Henry II and Eleanor of Acquitaine (think Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn in THE LION IN WINTER!) transported to Cornwall in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Instead of the Crown of England, it's the great estate of Penmarric that's at stake here. She established here the format she used in the subsequent novels already cited, that of sequential narrators, each of whom play a significant role in the story moves the story along until the next character takes over.Howatch is a gifted storyteller who wrote several 'gothic romances' prior to publishing PENMARRIC, and the very gothic-style phrase "I was just" apppears many times throughout her novels ("I was just setting down my teacup when..." "I was just wondering whether he'd ever appear when..."01/11/10: I thoroughly enjoyed my re-read of PENMARRIC - it even got me to re-watch THE LION IN WINTER. Despite its 735-page length, PENMARRIC is an engrossing and surprisingly fast read.

  • MaryJane
    2019-04-20 06:58

    I loved this book when it first came out years ago. I picked it up the other day at the library - wondering if it would hold up over the years. I'm at about page 80 and I am really enjoying it.10/10/10 I just finished it and it's still a good a read as when it first came out. I would recommend it to anyone interested in books spanning different generations. It is set at the end of the 19th century in Britain, mainly along the coast of Cornwall and extends to about 1945

  • Judi Anne
    2019-03-28 03:02

    In the late 1800s, Mark inherits the family manor, Penmarric, in Cornwall, England. He and Jana fall in love and he asks her to marry him but she is reluctant since she is several years older. As she feared, after marriage and seven children, they drift apart when Janna finds out that Mark has another household with his mistress and two illegitimate children. The marriage spirals downward and it is a vicious tug of war from then on. However, Mark and Jana are only the supporting cast of characters. The novel is actually about five young men as they grow into adulthood and their relations with each other and their father and mother.I really enjoyed this epic novel that loosely parallels the Plantagenet family, Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. It is a deep and moving story about marriage, love, adultery, vindictiveness, and the effects these actions of Mark (Henry) and Jana (Eleanor) have on their children. As always, Susan Howatch’s talent for superb complex characterization, written in family drama, is the center point of the novel. It is also her first novel and there were many more later, including the popular Starbridge Series, a history of the Church of England. I’m planning on reading these six books… one day.

  • r
    2019-03-28 00:28

    ابتدا بگویم قلم نویسنده بسیار روان واز ان بهتر ترجمه بسیار فصیح استاد ابراهیم یونسی بود ..رمان داستان پرکشش وجذاب زندگی سه نسل از افراد یک خانواده اشرافی است .داستان از سال 1890با داستان مارک اغاز میشود وتا سال 1945ادامه می یابد .البته با شیوه ای جدید ومتفاوت از اثار کلاسیک است. وشخصیت های پرداخته شده ومستقل در داستان بسیارند .محور داستان عمارتی است قدیمی با نام پنماریک که بیشتر وقایع داستان در ان میگذرد .پنماریک رمانی است جذاب وخواندنی پر از شخصیت های زنده با شیوه داستانسرایی بسیار عالی. به قول مترجم این کتاب 4 ماه در صدر پرفروشترین کتابهای نیویورک تایمز جای داشته است .نکته جالب در کل رمان این است که همه شخصیت های رمان دنبال عدالت هستند البته انها فقط عدالت را برای خودشان میخواهند تا به قول معروف حق شان را بگیرند .حقی که همان عمارت قدیمی وپوسیده پنماریک است اما گرفتن حق هر کدامشان با زایل شدن حق دیگری محقق میشود .در کل رمان پنماریک طعنه میزند به اشرافیت پوسیده ونظام طبقاتی جامعه انگلیسی در پایان قرن نوزده وسرانجام با جنگ جهانی دوم همه ان تاروپود های اشرافیگری وبرگزیدگی در جامعه از بین میرود ودوره جدیدی در روابط ادمها ایجاد میشود

  • ladydusk
    2019-04-18 07:27

    Own.I enjoyed reading this a lot. The writing is really excellent and draws the reader through the story. The motivations of the characters, the relationships between the characters, the voices of the characters are all so well done. Her characters, too, do not remain static but mature, grow, and change and their voices reflect this. Sympathies with one character narrator become antipathies with the next. Howatch teaches us how to consider the perspective of those we love ... and those we hate. I am constantly impressed with how Howatch can move story lines between centuries and situations and make them relevant so the reader learns about both periods and the people and places she sets them in.

  • Holly Weiss
    2019-03-28 01:18

    Penmarric was Susan Howatch's first book, written when she was twenty-six. It is different in style than her later books, particularly the Starbridge series focusing on Anglican priests. Penmarric shows her working on her craft of creating complex characters (which she does well), but we don’t see the depth of plot she cultivated as she continued to write. The characters of Penmarric are deeply flawed individuals, but she writes great growth and change in them.The book follows a family through three generations from 1890-1945. Mark Castallack finally inherits Penmarric, a great mansion in Cornwall. To it he brings his bride Janna Roslyn. The book follows the circuitous and antagonistic relationships between he and his children by two different women. Mark’s desire is to bring all of this children, legitimate and illegitimate, to live with him under one roof. Their relationships are often strained, laden with malice and mistrust.Mark also inherited the Sennen Garth tin mine, which he closes, not having the capital necessary to reopen it. In 1914 one of his legitimate sons, Philip, endeavors to reopen the mine (part of which is under the sea) and finds a great tin lode desperately needed to supply the war effort. I found this section most interesting with its wealth of information about the mining of tin.The book is in five sections, each narrated by a member of the family:Mark: 1890Janna (his wife): 1890-1904)Adrian (an illegitimate son): 1904-1914Philip (legitimate son): 1914-1930Jan-Yves (youngest legitimate son): 1930-1945

  • Laura
    2019-04-11 04:26

    Another fabulous book by Susan Howatch telling the Castallack family saga from 1890 to 1945. Jan-Yves story is my favorite among all the Penmarric's masters. It's quite interesting the parallelism made by the author with the Plantagenet history. Thanks Misfit for this book recommendation. The Wheel of Fortune will be the next book to read soon.

  • Mary
    2019-04-02 06:23

    Odd book. Maybe it's supposed to be a bodice-ripper or an epic, or an epic bodice-ripper. But I found it tiresome, the characters less than likable and the historical settings more an attempt for Susan Howatch to appear erudite than useful for the plot. I did like the Plantagenet foreshadowing for each chapter, however.

  • Linda Lpp
    2019-04-15 02:20

    Read this when it first came out. Plan to enjoy it again.

  • Cirtnecce
    2019-04-15 07:58

    The book is divided into 5 parts and commences in 1890 with the narrative of a young Mark Castallack who introduces us to Penmarric, an estate in Cornwall which was to be inherited by his mother Maud, but which instead went to her cousin Giles who in turn had warmed his way to Maud’s father affection, after the death of her brother. Maud herself was separated from her scholarly and gentlemanly husband Laurence Castallack and instead resides in London and spends her life in a legal battle to secure Penmarric for her son. Mark Castallack who is not fond of his mother and feels more kinship to his father’s quiet and scholarly taste has no interest in Penmarric, but rather hopes to become a historian like his father. He works hard and goes to Oxford to read history, while his mother continues to wage a battle for Penmarric which she ultimately loses. However with the death of Giles’s only son, Mark suddenly becomes the heir to Penmarric. It is at this time that his father closes his own house, an estate, in North Cornwall and comes to reside near Penmarric is a small farm which he inherited from his mother. While visiting his father, one day Marc meets a widow of a farmer, Janna , who is 10 years his senior, but with whom he is instantly taken. Janna however is not interested in Marc and angered by her rejection, Marc goes away to a sea side resort, where he meets, Rose, a daughter of a doctor who works as a Nanny after her father’s death. Spurred on my Janna’s rejection, he sets out to seduce Rose and then returns to his father’s farm. Rose however soon becomes pregnant and things come to a head as Laurence dies while seeking reconciliation with Marc, after a bitter argument, when the former comes to know about Rose. With the death of Laurence, followed soon by demise of Giles, Marc takes over Penamrric and sets out to conquer Janna, with turbulent results that reverberate through two generations of the Castallack family, spanning over 60 years.The book from the very beginning calls out that it is more of a modern retelling of history of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and the rise and fall of the Plantagenet family. Each book begins with a brief synopsis of the Plantagenet family history, which vaguely gives the reader the idea of the premises of the chapters which would follow. It is the credit of the author that despite this synopsis, which kind of lays bare what is about to unfold, the grip of the plot is never lost and as a reader, you would keep turning pages to see actually what does happen. This fine balance of marking out the premises without giving away the solution to the suspense is a fine a delicate art and Ms. Howatch manages this with mastery and great finesse. Her characters are all capable of being generous, liberal, and honest and brave at the same time also behave in an unworthy manner. They are all well drawn out and each character stands independently and distinctly of each other and makes the plot more taut. However there are some inconsistencies – there is a sudden turning of really bad to really good without enough explanation; for one instance you are blackmailing your own father and next minute the same person is revered as a local hero. While I understand that man has many facets, goodness is often well rounded and while we all have moments of weakness, rarely have I seen a nature so contradictory. Having said that, these inconsistencies, do not take anything away from the story and the narratives plays out beautifully, doing ample justice to the lovely beauty of Cornwall as well the very unsettled history of England, 1890-1945. In fact this is another master stroke by Ms. Howatch, many historical novels have a tendency to become history books where history and not the story is main stay of the novel; but in this book, there is again a very fine balance where, one is constantly aware of the changing dynamics in the history and society of Engalnd without taking center stage. Breakdown of the old social order is brought out more by the conduct of the characters rather than a linear narrative. For instance, at the very onset it is clear Marc Castellack favors the traditional idea of women in vogue then where “intellect’ was not a lady’s forte, but rather home and hearth should be the core of her existence. Yet the same Marc Castellack some 35 years later supports his daughter’s education and sends her to Cambridge. This kind of story telling slowly and distinctly unravels the changes in the history while marrying it skillfully with the core theme.I cannot say I am absolutely fond of this book, in fact I felt it would make a better film than a book, considering the father against son, brother against brother, blackmail, adultery etc. However I am extremely glad to have read it once and if nothing else, as a reader, you will be left breathless, with most glorious description of Cornwall that you could see, breathe and even feel Cornwall.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-21 04:03

    I read this book in the 1970's. I loved good historical fiction. I always loved a good family saga. Because of Howatch, I became a voracious reader. I read the History of the Plantagenets by Costain, family sagas by Trollop and Gaskell. One can get the Trollop and Gaskell for free.I have read everything by Howatch, and much prefer her later novels than her first gothic suspense novels.Pennmarric is perfect for an afternoon by the fire or air conditioning depending on the season. Turn off the phone and hang up the do not disturb signs.Howatch pulls no punches. She examines the darkness and goodness in human nature. Her characters became real to me.

  • BookMaven
    2019-04-13 02:22

    Bleak and DrearyThis is the story of Mark Castallack and his life with his family, actually, with his two families. Mark is lucky with money, but totally unlucky in love. All his kids either hate each other or feel nothing. Mark manages to humiliate all around him. That is the story.It is well-written, and has a gimmicky plot device that lets contemporary characters follow the life of King John of England. This is a signature quirk of several of Howatch's novels. It is an interesting turn. Howatch is an extremely gifted writer. The plot flows easily and her use of dialogue is excellent.To me, however, all of the characters were one dimensional, and that one dimension was a complete lack of caring for anyone but themselves. Their choices indicated that they did not even care about themselves very much. I grew tired of the never-ending downward spiral.The book's title indicated to me that Penmarric would play a central role in the book. It was disappointing to me that even the main character, Mark, did not live there much. His children were raised, for the most part, elsewhere. His wife preferred living in a small farmhouse rather than the castle-like Penmarric. It is my opinion that the most interesting parts of the book took place at the farmhouse. The book should have been called "Farmhouse". I just think that the book would have been more interesting if we were allowed to see some positive interaction. To me, it is just not believable that every aspect of one's life is so mired in negative self-absorption. The whole clan was just miserable, but if one likes wallowing in misery, this author makes it palatable with her very good writing skills. I, for one, am off to find a more balanced approach to humanity.

  • Juliana
    2019-04-13 06:14

    I went back into the time machine for this historical fiction read which was published in 1971. I had read about Susan Howatch in Michael Korda's memoir, Another Life. He said this of her, "It is a frequently stated basic belief of book publishing that somewhere in the country at any given moment some unknown woman is writing a major best-seller (usually referred to as the 'the next Gone with the Wind') at her kitchen table while looking after her baby, but this was the first time I had experienced the phenomenom in real life. Susan Howatch had written her massive novel with one hand on the cradle and the other doing the typing, but, like most authors who succeed, she had never doubted that her book would be a bestseller." The book was highly successful when it came out--and is loosely based on the Plantagenet family--but takes place in Cornwall with a manor called Penmarric taking the place of the throne.I've always enjoyed multi-generational sagas and the overlay of Eleanor of Aquataine and the lives of her children make for some interesting points of view and plot twists.

  • Cheryl
    2019-03-31 06:00

    Wow. Once again, Susan Howatch has taken a family and given it a parallel story to an important family in British history - - in this case, Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their sons, most particularly Richard the Lionheart and King John II. Penmarric spans the late 1800's through World War II and is similar, but not quite the same, as the original true story. Since I have always loved the Plantagenet era, these books perhaps appeal to me more than they might to others - - but even without a real knowledge of the historical parallel, Howatch does a masterful job of writing a great story. You need to invest some time in reading this book - - -it is a pretty hefty one - - -but it is well worth it. Some comments by folks on the Goodreads board have me anxious to look into her Starbridge series, in which her writing is supposedly even better than Penmarric and Wheel of Fortune. What fun to have a "new" author to explore and read!

  • Christina
    2019-04-06 03:15

    I really, really wanted to like this book. A friend recommended Howatch to me and I read the first 2 books in her Church of England series. Despite a tendency to not have any good, strong female characters, I loved them, and I'm not even particlarly religious. So, when I found out that she had a series of books based on the Plantagenets (my favorite historical family), I immediately hunted them down. What a disappoinment this first one was. There was not a single character I cared for. They were neither likable, interesting, nor sympathetic. I simply just did not care about them. There was also an extremely superficial resemblance to my favorite Plantagenet, Eleanor of Aquitaine. I kept waiting for Janna to grow a backbone. It never happened. I'm also seriously beginning to wonder if Howatch can present a complex female. So far most of the women in her books are either shrews, whores, brow-beaten, passive simpletons, or a combination.

  • Anna
    2019-04-14 02:24

    This book kept showing up on my recommendations list and was getting glowing reviews, so I was thrilled when I found a copy at my library. I was expecting Daphne du Maurier so it was disappointing to say the least -- I am so happy I finally finished this book. I lost interest in this book during the first part and never got back into it ... it was just a chore to read. It's a family saga (which I normally enjoy) that spans 3 generations spanning about 50 years and told by 5 characters. I finally realized that they were recounting one tedious episode after another and that there were no likeable characters to embrace.

  • Kathy
    2019-03-28 07:09

    This was a re-read for me. I know I read it probably 25 yrs ago, but of course, remembered nothing when I picked it up at a beach house for something to read. After enjoying the Downton Abbey television series, this family saga fell right in step with that one, through the change of the 20th century and WWI. I liked the way the book was put together with each character doing a segment from their own perspective. Very good read!

  • Dana Garner
    2019-04-03 00:26

    This is probably my favorite historical fiction book. I love how the sections alter your loyalty to characters based on the point of view of the narrator -- a character much despised becomes one to whom you are sympathetic, and a favorite voice becomes shrill and irritating. So impressed with this saga!

  • Anna
    2019-04-18 01:13

    Drama-filled family stuff. It was entertaining for sure...but kinda depressing! I wish she had added just a few more wholesome, redeeming characters to get me through all the realistic, selfish characters. :) Each chapter was from a different character's perspective, and that was intriguing. It also reminded me of an Isabel Allende book I've read...similar family saga issues.

  • Sandy
    2019-03-22 03:02

    I could not get through this book. Generally I'm one to always plow through to the end, but only read about a third before giving up. I couldn't find it in me to like any of the characters and really couldn't bring myself to care about what happened to them.

  • Nancy
    2019-04-02 03:18

    I couldn't read this book. The plot, as far as I read which was longer than I should have, was very weak and mostly composed of illicit affairs. I'm not willing to give it any more of my time. I'm glad I only spent $1.99 on this book.

  • Sandy
    2019-04-02 08:04

    First read this wonderful book in 1974. Ran out of books to read this week, so looked on the shelf and found this one...great choice. I did not realize during the first reading that the story parallels Henry II and his family. This time around..I saw it immediately.

  • Barbara Snow
    2019-03-24 07:23

    I like family saga's and at the time I read it -- many years ago -- I enjoyed it beginning to end. That is my criteria for a 5 star. Howatch is a good author, but after two family saga's she went off in a different direction and it was not one I followed.