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The Wheel of Fortune

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,721 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
"Take me back to Oxmoon, the lost paradise of our childhood. Take me back to Oxmoon and make it live again!"

Oxmoon, the rambling old mansion on a sprawling estate in Wales, has been for generations, the dream, the downfall, and the destiny of the wealthy Godwin family. They are entranced by tales of glittering parties where young lovers waltzed beneath the chandeliers as t
Paperback, 1171 pages
Published April 12th 1985 by Fawcett (first published 1984)
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Jan 18, 2010 Misfit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Murder, madness and mayhem - oh my. The Godwins have lived at Oxmoon for generations. The story begins in 1913, and is narrated by Robert the younger (all the first born sons of the first born sons are named Robert). Robert senior struggles to bring the estate back to financial health after it was run into the ground by his mother's notorious lover, Owain Bryn-Davies. Robert is raised with distant cousin Ginevra (Ginette) and the two maintain a strong bond of friendship that eventually blossoms ...more
Jul 29, 2014 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Ah, how to rate a 1000+ page family saga that attempts to retell 14th century Plantagenet drama as a 20th century story . . . . All this royal eccentric behavior sure seems outrageous compared to Victorian and Edwardian standards!

The story is split into sections told by different members of the Godwin family to move it through the generations. We begin with Robert Godwin (one of many), who is our Edwardian Black Prince to Ginette, his Fair Maid of Kent. I especially enjoyed how Howatch creativel

More like 4.5 stars.

Very clever and detailed 'modern' interpretation of the lives of the English historical figures Edward (AKA The Black Prince), Joan (AKA The Fair Maid of Kent), John of Gaunt, Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V. The cast come alive in this multi-generational saga that encompasses everything from scandal, lust, murder, sodomy, drunkenness, abuse, illegitimacy, jealously, madness and extortion spanning the years 1913 to 1966.

I seriously loved how the author wove the historical f
Sep 23, 2009 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Best book I've ever read. I plan to read it again in 5-10 years.
Tanja Berg
Wohoo! I'm done! I read all of it! Of course, it was a total drag from about half way through so I'm not sure this is such a marvellous achievement. I did not like this at all as much as some of the other books I've read by Susan Howatch. However, I read those when I was in my twenties and far more easily impressed than I am now.

The book tells the story of the grand old estate of Oxmoon, and the people on it. It is a family saga spanning several generations, starting at the end of the 20th centu
Judi/Judith Riddle
This novel is a little over a 1000 pages but don’t let that put you off. If you love great English historical fiction this really is the best. I’ve read Cashelmara and Penmarric and loved them but this novel is my favorite. Loosely based on the last of the Plantatgenets, it begins with a new cast where Cashelmara ends. The very detailed novel concentrates on the Godwin’s beloved family home of Oxmoon in Gower, South Wales and focuses on the class structure of England in the early 1900s. There ar ...more
Jan 13, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing
This book is one of those books you can read and re-read countless times and still find the story interesting. I myself didn't see the connection between some of the characters and real life historical people or time periods, but I'm not all that well versed in European history.

In fact, if I'd read a review of the book stating that the characters and time were based on the Plantagenests (sp???), I probably would have run away screaming because it would have made me think Wheel of Fortune sounde
Sodomy, adultery, murder, robbery, madness, lust. That's how one of the characters describes his family's antics, and he ain't wrong.

Set in the first half of the 20th century, but beautifully paralleling the lives of Edward III, the Black Prince, John of Gaunt, Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V, this is the story of the Godwins, masters of Oxmoon. Each generation is haunted by the sins of the fathers, each of them clinging to the mantra of 'I draw the line' in a desperate attempt to ward off thei
Jun 30, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Misfit
This book is a family saga on the Godwin's family told over a period of fifty years in their Welsh estate, Oxmoon. I must agree with Misfit, this book is without any doubt the best book written by Susan Howatch, even if I did loved Cashelmara and Penmarric. The parallel with the real historical characters is fabulous. As in any book by SH, is hard to tell which is my favorite character but I'm still divided between Kester and Hal.
Kate Quinn
May 11, 2010 Kate Quinn rated it really liked it
Susan Howatch writes this multi-generational book with a very deliberate gimmick, and yet it's such a clever one that I loved every minute of it. The novel is enjoyable enough on its own merits as the story of several generations of an English family, told in succession by a tortured adrenaline junkie, his flamboyant wife, his repressed younger brother, his artistic son, his ambitious nephew, and finally a grand-nephew determined to raise the family status again to glory. But what if you know yo ...more
Apr 03, 2011 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lori Hill
Shelves: family-saga
This massive book by Susan Howatch retells the story of Edward III of England's dynasty in a 20th century setting told in five first person narratives through the century. I absolutely loved this book and thought it was brilliantly done through John's story, but it began to weaken in its appeal through the final third of the book -- Henry and Hal's stories. However, the strength of the beginning far outweighed the weakness of the resolution for me. Note: Read this book after reading Anya Seton's ...more
Jan 13, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars.
Wheel of fortune is a modern telling of the lives of the Plantagenets: Edward The Black Prince through Henry V, taking place between 1913 and the 1970's. While the book itself is quite hefty at almost 1200 pages, it was very quick read; mostly because I had to force myself to put it down. I have to say that Harry was my favorite character even though nothing ever really seemed to work out for him. The book is separated into six different parts each reading like a diary entry in the 1s
Mar 23, 2011 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sprawling family saga, following a Welsh family from the Gower Peninsua from the late 19th century through to the 1970s. It's also a retelling of the history of the Plantagenets - Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V. It's very well-written, and it's quite an interesting experience, reading a modern retelling of history. You know what will happen, sort of - which characters will die, which will be murdered, but not the circumstances or the context. And it's about how every acti ...more
Sara Steger
Dec 12, 2015 Sara Steger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-classics
Don't let the slow start put you off, this book plunges into a complex and complicated family and morphs into a book that can't be put down. Knowing it is based on actual royalty and the line of the Black Prince makes it all the more fascinating. There isn't a two dimensional character in the book, including those who have minor roles. I cannot believe Horwatch escaped my attention or so long, but I am looking forward to reading her entire canon of work.
Sep 19, 2010 Cherie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is definitely my all-time favorite book. It has everything I like, multi-generations, historical parallels, a story told from the viewpoint of many intriguing characters. It's a long book, but it caught my interest from the beginning, and I have gone back and read it two or three times again. I have loved all of Susan Howatch's family sagas, but this one is the best!
Jan 11, 2015 Tara added it
This was a long and tedious slog, and the last 5th was actually painful. Not recommended for anyone.
Aug 21, 2013 Jemidar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

My copy is quite literally a brick with 977 pages and tiny, microscopic font. Eye strain here I come!!

Mar 11, 2015 Drush76 rated it it was amazing
Several years ago, I once posted a list of my top ten favorite historical fiction novels of all time. Susan Howatch's 1984 novel, "THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE" made the list. In fact, I would go as far to say that it would have also made the list of my top favorite novels . . . period. I love it that much.

Back in the 1970s, Howatch wrote several family sagas in which the main characters were based upon members from a certain group from Britain's Royal Family known as House of Plantagenet, which ruled
J. Joan
Aug 03, 2011 J. Joan rated it really liked it
I have to admit, I could not have expected how much I ended up enjoying this book. I managed to blast through this ~1200 page tome with ease, always wishing I had the mental power to read faster than I could. Howatch's writing exhibits some real talents.

Firstly, without being able to fact-check or verify, it seems the author really knows her stuff: this multi-generational family saga begins in the late 19th century and spans all the way to the 1960s, and yet Howatch effortlessly weaves in lots
Linda Gillard
Nov 27, 2009 Linda Gillard rated it it was amazing
The best book I read in 2009 and a new author for me. A long read (1100pp)but engrossing. It struck me as being something like a much longer version of my own novel A LIFETIME BURNING! Certainly anyone who enjoyed ALB would probably enjoy WHEEL OF FORTUNE. I've started collecting Howatch's Starbridge series and I'm looking forward to those. Wheel of Fortune
Apr 10, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it
I enjoy family sagas. Particularly those written with the history spent over generations on a homestead similar to Oxmoon. The experiences of the 3 sons, each in their own way desiring to be heir was strange but fascinating. It just proves that life isnt a complete bed of roses....for anyone.

The Wheel of Fortune was well worth the read.
Apr 15, 2015 April rated it really liked it
Like Cashelmara mirrored the lives of Edward I - Edward IV, The Wheel of Fortune mirrors the lives of Edward the Black Prince - Henry V with a whole new set of characters, The Godwins and a new location, Oxmoon. While it is just as cleverly written, it had some slow spots. Once again, Howatch separates the novel into different points of view. Some characters are more likable than others, and their viewpoints easier to read. I found Robert to be a little too rigid to be liked, and Ginevra was a b ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Racheal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favourite book by Susan.
On the first read, I immediately re-read.
All of Susan's books are worth a read, but some struggle with her splendid Church of England series. Start with this book ... or Penmarric, or Cahelmara, or the Rich are Different.
These are the books I turn back-towards when nothing else appeals.
Nontobeko Lamula
Mar 30, 2011 Nontobeko Lamula rated it it was amazing
This is my favourate book of all time. I loved the style of writing, the drama, everything! I read this book when i was still in university (10 years ago!) and i own a copy that has seen better days. i still cannot resist reading it once in a while; it's the only book i've re-read over and over
Nov 01, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Kathleen
Shelves: fun
I am in a hugely busy season of my life, new job, carpooling, volunteering, meal prep, and all the regular stuff too, so great time to start an over 1000 page book, right? I don't know why I did it, but every second I could grab I was reading the Wheel of Fortune.
About halfway through I thought, this isn't as good as the Starbridge series, but at the end it was a very close almost as good. A sweeping British (Welsh) family saga involving murder, affairs, madness and more. It is fascinating to h
Feb 20, 2014 Philip rated it liked it
Re-reading this after 30 years . . . it's a tribute to Howatch's storytelling talents that she's able to keep you reading this almost endless epic of debauchery, lechery, jealousy and, well, pretty much you name it. It might actually have fared better as two novels (which leads me to wonder if she was made to publish THE RICH ARE DIFFERENT and its sequel, SINS OF THE FATHERS, as two novels rather than one big unwieldly one), as things can't help but get repetitious. And melodrama, of course, rei ...more
May 28, 2015 Kclark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 31, 2011 Randi rated it it was amazing
This is a book you can sink yourself in. Story of a family with all drama you can think of. Takes awhile to read but so worth it. Howatch is a master of prose.
Nov 25, 2015 Ondrea rated it really liked it
This book is ok. Towards the end it began to get redundant and I wanted to draw the line but I stood firm and pressed on because that was the done thing!
Polly James
Oct 19, 2015 Polly James rated it it was amazing
Warning: this book is compulsive reading. I've just re-read it and was just as hooked this time around. The characterisation is superb, with complex, flawed characters whose voices leap off the page, and whose psychology is fascinating. The novel has a complex but page-turning plot and a compelling sense of place, and if you're familiar with Rhossili and the Worm's Head (as I am), then this will only enhance the experience of reading the book. I always think Susan Howatch is underrated, which ma ...more
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Susan Howatch (b. 1940) is a British novelist who has penned bestselling mysteries, family sagas, and other novels. Howatch was born in Surrey, England. She began writing as a teen and published her first book when she moved to the United States in 1964. Howatch found global success first with her five sagas and then with her novels about the Church of England in the twentieth century. She has now ...more
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“...lonely, very lonely to have a past no one else can share.” 10 likes
“practice makes perfect and although God did create Adam he was more accomplished when the time came for him to create Eve.” 3 likes
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