Howatch teaches us how to consider the perspective of those we love 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. Recommended to Laura by: Misfit. Shelves: family-saga , cornwall , read , historical-fiction. Another fabulous book by Susan Howatch telling the Castallack family saga from to 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. View all 19 comments. Jun 30, Holly Weiss rated it really liked it Shelves: historical-fiction. 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.
The characters of Penmarric are deeply flawed individuals, but she writes great growth and change in them. The book follows a family through t Penmarric was Susan Howatch 's first book, written when she was twenty-six. The book follows a family through three generations from 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.
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 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.
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The book is in five sections, each narrated by a member of the family: Mark: Janna his wife : Adrian an illegitimate son : Philip legitimate son : Jan-Yves youngest legitimate son : Sep 27, MaryJane rated it really liked it. 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. 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 Jul 15, Mary rated it it was ok Shelves: fiction. 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. View 1 comment. I first read this when I was in high school, and adored it and read it multiple times. As years passed I always meant to re-read it, then finally I became afraid to, fearing it would, well, suck - I don't always trust my youthful taste. Finally I just dove in and was surprised to see that it is based on the story of Henry II and his "Devil's Brood", which would have meant nothing to me at the time. And how odd that I just watched "A Lion in Winter" a couple of weeks ago.
Katharine Hepburn wears I first read this when I was in high school, and adored it and read it multiple times. Katharine Hepburn wears false eyelashes in , sigh And guess what, I still loved it. Complete melodrama, of course, but in pages not a moment drags, it whips right along with calamity after calamity.
Great fun. Drama-filled family stuff. It was entertaining for sure I wish she had added just a few more wholesome, redeeming characters to get me through all the realistic, selfish characters. It also reminded me of an Isabel Allende book I've read I am giving this 4 stars because it was so clever and took so much research to write it, but I really did not enjoy the reading experience. The story is set around mid 's to and it is based on the real couple of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine which is mid s to say Their children are called the Devil's Brood which may be indicator of my problem.
So everyone in the novel is a sad or horrible person, because of they all just hate each other. This is the ultimate dysfunctional I am giving this 4 stars because it was so clever and took so much research to write it, but I really did not enjoy the reading experience.
~ Spending the year hunting out bookshops and reading plenty!
This is the ultimate dysfunctional family. Everyone who gets married ends up hating their spouse, or mistress or children or parents. Everyone seems to try to cheat the other out of an inheritance or is angry because they are not getting an inheritance. I just wanted at least one person to be nice and happy but what a mess of a family. Then I realized that the characters are based on Henry, Eleanor and their darling children and spouses and it contains many quotes from really biographies which are copied into the actions of the novel.
Oh well truth is stranger than fiction. Dec 25, Cirtnecce rated it really liked it. 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.
He works hard and goes to Oxford to read history, while his mother continues to wage a battle for Penmarric which she ultimately loses. 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. 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, 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. 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. Feb 21, Small Review rated it really liked it Shelves: pagess , library-own , read , z-plantagenets , wishlist-print , library-own-re , g-historical-bio , library-own-e , g-historical-bio-own , library-own-read.
Most of everything I said about Cashelmara can be said about Penmarric. The writing is rich, the characters are real, and the parallels between the surface story and the history it retells are fascinating individually and together. Chapters again are large and narration again switches from one character to another. Instead of the s, the historical parallel here is Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their "devil's brood," including Richard the Lionheart and the evil King John. And, perhaps Most of everything I said about Cashelmara can be said about Penmarric.
And, perhaps that was part of the problem for me.
I entered this book with far more investment and knowledge of the historical time period than I did with Cashelmara. The characters here felt close to their historical counterparts, but less seamless. Janna as Eleanor was close, but not quite Eleanor. The nod to the Anarchy fell flat, as inheriting an estate after legal disputes just doesn't have the same level of flair and gravitas as fighting a civil war that tore apart England for over a decade has.
Philip's obsession with his tin mines, while an interesting parallel, felt like a bit of a stretch from Richard's famous crusades. Events were also not quite as lockstep with history. That said, I waver, because as much as I can't deny a sense of disappointment with all that, I still adored the book. As much as I might have felt disappointed with tin mines replacing crusades, I spent so much time pondering the historical nuances in the context of Susan Howatch's story that I gained an even greater appreciation for and understanding of those events in history.
Her portrayal of John is, shockingly, one of the best and most humanizing portrayals of him I've ever read. He certainly wasn't likable, but finally he was no longer the two dimensional villain history usually portrays him to be though Mark as Henry II felt far too villainous and without nuance or redeeming features.
Penmarric by Susan Howatch
So, again, it may not be quite right, but it did make me think about the real historical events and people with a greater depth. Even with my quibbles, I still thoroughly enjoyed Penmarric and highly recommend it. Originally posted on Small Review Bleak and Dreary This 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.
Howat Bleak and Dreary This is the story of Mark Castallack and his life with his family, actually, with his two families. 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. He goes to town and hooks up with a young Nanny who he manages to make pregnant. She is a middle class girl with no family.
He has no interest in marrying her as he only has eyes for Janna still but he borrows money to set her up in a house to have the baby, dedicating himself to financially supporting her. After the death of his father things progress with Janna and they marry and she becomes the mistress of Penmarric eventually. Mark and she have children virtually every year and whilst they are initially happy he becomes bitter about the amount of time she spends in confinement and spends more and more time away from the house.
The relationship between Mark and Janna goes from bad to worse until one day when taking Phillip away from school for a weekend away in Brighton Janna sees Mark and his second family in the restaurant.
Penmarric by Susan Howatch – #bookreview #vintagefriday | Wish Vintage
Phillip is confused, though happy to see his father, who he has not seen for some while, thinking he is living in Cambridge for work. On this occasion Mark rapes Janna and their last child is conceived. Through both wars and various world events the story of this family unfolds told from the point of view of Mark , Janna , Adrian , Phillip and Jan-Yves I thought this book was stunning. But literally when I was awake I was reading it. I became so fascinated by Cornish tin mining that I was watching Youtube videos about it and reading Wikipedia about it.
Cornwall already has a place in my heart and this book painted it beautifully, particularly the rugged North coast. Another thing I absolutely loved about the book were the quotes the author used at the beginning of each chapter illustrating that the story was told from a relatively modern perspective but mirrored history, seeing Mark as Henry II for example and Janna as Eleanor of Aquitaine.
I would give this book 4. But, as I say, just tiny. Ultimately this was a very good book, a very good book indeed. What a gorgeous setting! It suited rebecca so perfectly, I love that book endlessly too. About The Book. About The Author. Susan Howatch. Product Details.
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