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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  3,901 ratings  ·  120 reviews
Cashelmara - at once beautiful and frightening - is the great house that dominates the Irish estates of the de Salis family, obsessing them from generation to generation, dominating their lives and fortunes, irresistibly drawing them away from the quiet and settled world of mid-Victorian English aristocracy into the violence, passion and danger or Ireland.

For Edward, a ste...more
Hardcover, 702 pages
Published May 1st 1974 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1974)
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I’ve always been a fan of big fat sagas, and Cashelmara did not disappoint. Set in Ireland in the 19th century, we follow three generations of the wealthy de Salis family. As with all sagas, secrets and scandals abound, but the twist here is that the fictional de Salises are based on Edwards I, II and III of England.

If you know the three Edwards, you’ll be looking out for the characters that take on the roles of Piers Gaveston, Hugh Despenser, Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer; knowing how the s...more
"The match flared in the darkness, his eyes watched me above the single steady flame.."

I cannot recall the last time a scene from a book has so thoroughly chilled me to the bone (and there were plenty more besides), but you'll have to read it for yourself to see what I'm talking about - I'm not telling! Set in Ireland in the latter part of the 19C, Howatch recounts three generations of the wealthy English de Salis family in six separate "books", each of those being in the first person POV of dif...more
I first read Cashelmara when I was about eleven years old and have since probably read it at least once a year! It os one book that I will always keep on my shelf alongside Trade Winds (M.M. Kaye) and Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett).
Cashelmara traces the loves, lies and intrigues of a late 19th aristocratic family based both in England and Ireland. It is split into 6 different parts, each narrated by a different character. As other reviewers have mentioned, the story is loosely - but brillian...more
Sep 01, 2007 Linda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
This scandalous through the generations English family saga is set in the mid to late 1860s. Beginning with the patriarch Edward de Salis and ending with his grandson, Patrick, the saga follows the changes in fortune of the family's Irish estate, Cashelmara. The novel is divided into several sections which are narrated by different members of the family. The plot contains a good mix of romance and mystery.
Susan Howatch's Cashelmara is one rollercoaster of a ride! One of the blurbs on the book calls it "another blockbuster", and gauging the heftiness of Howatch's books (this one weighs in at just over 700 pages) I think I know what that means. It's the sort of story that you literally lose yourself in. Howatch, and other authors who write (wrote?) 'blockbusters' (most notably in the 1970s and 80s it seems) know just how much fishing line to dangle in front of the reader before reeling it all back...more

I found myself not caring for any of the characters Howatch created and wanting to read more about Edward I and Edward II in their own time instead.

Misfit said...

"What she does with this trilogy is parallels the Plantagenets - but the characters and settings are different in the other books.

Penmarric is Henry II and Eleanor and their devil's brood. Cashelmara which Laura just read is Edward I, II and a wee bit of EIII and of course the Piers Gaveston/Hugh Despenser/Isabella the She-Wolf story....more
Karen Helmle
I loved this book. It was like an 1850's soap opera! Drama! Drama! Drama! What I liked most about this book is that the story is told thru the voice of 4 of the characters in the book. I was intriqued by how 4 people saw themselves and how they were seen by the people around them, how 4 people can take one event and view it so differently. This books has been around for years. I read it years ago but I picked it up again and still love it.
Although it's been over 20 years since I read this book, I still remember it. The story is intriguing, but so is the way Susan Howatch writes. I'll never forget how I was so into the story and the character, and then she completely switches the point of view to the arch enemy! At first I was not happy about it but she is quite masterful at it. I've enjoyed her books.
Holly Weiss
4.5 stars

Cashelmara is a saga about an Irish family through three generations. If the title doesn’t grab you, Howatch’s writing will. The story is mesmerizing and spine tingling. Psychological motivations, dysfunction and macabre machinations abound. Although designated as historical fiction, the novel shines in the characters and their relationships. I’d call it a psychological thriller as well as historical fiction.

The de Salis family owns an estate in England, but can’t seem to give up the re...more

I cannot recommend it. It is set in the early 1800s and plot points are based on the Edward I, II, and III, but I hope not very closely. While the writing is superb, it was dark and disturbing ... and sordid. The book has all kinds of torture from physical to psychological. I did like the discussion of England and Ireland and the relationship between the gentry and the populace. But it was so dark that I didn't really sleep one night and felt the horror of the situation. What really disturbs...more
Jul 31, 2010 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
Recommended to Laura by: Misfit
Just arrived from Belgium through BM.

WHAT A BOOK!!! It deserves 6 stars in my opinion. The unforgettable story of three generations during the famine period in Ireland. It's hard to decide which character I loved most Marguerite, Sarah or Ned?
Judi/Judith Riddle
Cashelmara is a foreboding castle in Ireland owned by the English deSalis family. No one seems to like the castle and estate but there is a mysterious pull causing the family to spend an excessive amount of time there. We see the deception, romance and the self imposed spiral into doom and then the resilience of three generations of the family. Loosely based on The Three Edwards of Medieval England the novel grabs hold of you and won’t let go. The story explores the heart breaking plight of the...more
The Lit Bitch
One of the things I loved most about this novel was that it was character driven. The characters were flawed just enough to make them relatable and real without putting the reader off and becoming cast as either the villain or the hero. I can’t say that I especially liked any of the characters but that is ok, it didn’t make the novel drab by any stretch of the measure, in fact it made it more exciting…..and here is why. I love books that surprise me and characters who surprise me. I like getting...more
Howatch's characteristic gothicism mixed with wordiness pays off in this story of the three Edwards of England, though the story is transplanted to late 19th century Ireland, and instead of a kingdom, the lands at stake are those Irish lands owned by a horrible, horrible English family. And yet, in the midst of these awful people, the reader can still empathize, even while the various family members and their consorts casually employ rape, sado-masochism and murder to solve the problems inherent...more
This was one heck of a family saga…on steroids. I love big family sagas with a princely estate which acts as a "character" all by itself. This book features several mansions, so those who are enamored of fancy real estate will love this book.

Cashelmara is the name of an estate in Ireland, and follows three generations of the Anglo-Irish family who owns it. The story begins in the mid-1800s and starts out as an interesting but fairly traditional type of historical novel. About five hundred pages...more
Kari Slater
My neighbor recommended this to me. I felt it was mediocre. Maybe because I've been reading such great books recently or because I read a great one right after it. But I slogged my way through all 700+ pages dutifully. However, I was more engrossed by page 2 of Time Traveller's Wife if that puts it in perspective.
Family novel set in the later part of the 19th century. Told from five different character POV. Some were better than others. What I did like about this book was the setting of English in Ireland pre-republic, post famine.
It supposedly follows a Plantagenet history set in a different time and location.
Lovely family saga that takes place in Ireland and England between 1850-1890 or so. We meet six protagonists and the story is told from the six perspectives:
Edward, the baron, his wife Marguerite, his son Patrick and his wife Sarah, Sarah's lover and her son Ned.

The story unfolds over the years, with much flourish, plenty of side trips to maintain the momentum and a strong climax. My only criticism is that in the telling of Ned's story who is between and 15 and 17 years old, it is hard to belie...more
Polly Petersen
A family saga with an unexpected ending. I learned a bit about Ireland at the time of the potatoe famine and its aftermath that was interesting.
This is an old (1970s) book but a timeless story. One of the best books I've ever read!
Susie Fiorito
This was an amazing book. A real epic. I loved it.
Ms. Howatch is a very clever writer. At first I thought it was just
a very good story, the kind that was written in the 1970's compared to the likes of Taylor Caldwell and Barbara Taylor Bradford, about 1/4 of the way through I realized I knew this story in an ancient form.
It is a modern day twist on the story of the much disdained King Edward II. She knew her history when writing this, it was so much fun recognizing who in the book was who in act...more
Didn't enjoy any of the characters.
Sarah Beth
Cashelmara is a great family saga set in Ireland beginning in 1859 and following the lives and turmoil of the de Salis family. The novel is composed of five parts, each from a different family member's perspective and covers three generations and over 30 years of family history. As indicated by the choice of title, the family's Irish estate, Cashelmara, is the central point of the novel, however, portions of the book also take place in England and America.

The novel opens with Edward, a widower...more
Reading a Susan Howatch novel is kinda like digging into a big bowl of hot, buttered, lightly salted popcorn. At first you read/eat slowly, savoring each page/bite. But then as the richness of the writing/buttery goodness start to envelope you, you can't help yourself. You start reading/eating faster and faster. You want to devour it all in one sitting, but Howatch's books are long for just one sitting/ feeding frenzy. Howatch's books are divided into sections with each major character getting h...more
Howatch is a sadist, and her readers are masochists. She creates unlikeable characters that are nevertheless compelling. The characters of Cashelmara behaved more believably than those in Wheel of Fortune, but I found that Cashelmara's characters acted more erratically as the book went on, and towards the end I was impatient with her character's decisions and with the plot points of the book.

Believable and unlikeable is interesting; Howatch knows how to paint portraits of people who could be al
For this review, as well as many more, please visit my blog, The Baking Bookworm (

My Thoughts: This is an epic saga following the lives and tribulations of the de Salis family. What made this book stand out for me, in amongst the many historical fiction books that I've read, is that the tale is told from six points of view. Six points of view are a lot and could easily become muddled and confusing but Ms Howatch deals with this in a very interesting way.

The st...more
Despite reading Susan Howatch many years previously, how did I ever miss this one back in the day?

Yum, yum, yum. One of my three favorite formats is following a house through the centuries. And this one- an epic tale that follows the patterns of past English monarchs on top of it! The Baron of Cashelmara in different generations mirrors in his character, tastes, and temperament, the actual ruling medieval and post-medieval English kings. I loved and recognized the parallels.

But beyond the excel...more
Cashelmara, a wonderful multigenerational family saga, is a beautifully written, fast paced novel that was so hard to put down, I stayed up half the night in the three nights it took me to read. The way in which Susan Howatch presents her excellent story is somewhat unique in that she writes the story from beginning to end in the voice of each main character-one by one. It's not a he said, she said where a writer will go back and forth writing about how they each or all saw events. For example,...more
My boyfriend said to me "Why are you reading that it looks like a trashy Danielle Steele novel?", well don't let the dodgy cover put you off, this book is fantastic. It is a well-written, fascinating historical saga. I LOVE Susan Howatch's historical novels. I first read this when I was a teenager and it is just one of those books that you keep returning to every few years as you know you will get an engrossing, page turner that will make you want to give up doing anything apart from reading.

I thought I was reading a historical fiction, but I found the historical part very lacking. It takes place in the mid-1800s when England had control of Ireland. It follows three generations of a family that lives in Ireland, but are English landlords of the poverty stricken Irish. The story is told by various people: Edward, of English nobility who lost his wife and marries an American girl, Marguerite, quite his junior. The story continues from Marguarite, and then Patrick, Edwards son from his...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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