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 friendsit s brought this magical story back to me all over again.I think I might just read it againsoon. 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 than 2 very disappointed and worn out stars After Cashelmara and The Wheel of Fortune, I just don t know what happened here.
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 from this author Apparently she continues her Plantagenet saga with two 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. I fell in love with Penmarric years ago, when I was still at school, from the very first sentencesI 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 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 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 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 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. 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. Really 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 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. 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 later, including the popular Starbridge Series, a history of the Church of England I m planning on reading these six books one day. 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. (Free Epub) ⚜ Penmarric â 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