The Wheel of Fortune
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The Wheel of Fortune

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,111 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Welsh heir Robert Godwin knows everything about his powerful family’s interests, but what does he know of his own heart?

Tucked in the hills of South Wales is Oxmoon, the ancestral estate of the Godwin family. In the summers before 1914, music streams through the family home as the Godwins, at the height of their prosperity, dance in the ballroom with their guests. But de...more
ebook, 1176 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Open Road Media (first published 1984)
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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

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...more
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...more
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.
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
Kate Quinn
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
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...more
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...more
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
Apr 03, 2011 Lori rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Best book I've ever read. I plan to read it again in 5-10 years.
J. Joan
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...more
Linda Gillard
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
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!
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
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
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

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

Henry Le Nav
Excellent but at close to 1000 pages, a tad bit too long. For as long as it was, the ending seemed a bit rushed, but still well worth reading.

The Gower Penisula is a real place as is the The Worm and the Shipway. You can get a feel for the torturous landscape of the Worm by copying and pasting the following coordinates into Google Earth or Google Maps Satellite View.

51° 33.669'N 4° 18.659'W

The coordinates are for the Shipway. The three heads of the Worm and the Devil's Bridge are slightly to th...more
I absolutely love this story! I read it two times before, but it's been years so I hardly remembered what went on during the story. As I was reading, some things did come back to me, but very little so in a way it was like I was it for the first time. This was a thrilling, romantic, scandalous, disastrous family saga where one is always called on to '...draw the line..' and 'do the done thing.'...but they don't, and so we see how outward appearances are just that, appearances, while on the insid...more
Wheel of Fortune was a Kindle Daily Deal spuriously (and comically) categorized under “romance,” which meant I might have overlooked it altogether. However, its cover lacked bosom-busting blondes and ripped-shirt Fabios, and the title implied nothing about longing, betrayal, or other typical romance tropes, so I investigated further. Not being able to pass up a well-reviewed book of over a thousand pages, I decided to give it a go.

It’s a cliché, but once I picked up the book, I couldn’t stop rea...more
I loved The Wonder Worker by Susan Howatch so I'm very pleased that I'm really enjoying this one of hers so far.

On the cover it says "A mesmerising storyteller" and she really is. I'm only on page 53 of 977! A satisfyingly fat book with tiny writing and thin margins. Lovely!

I love books set in the Edwardian period, and I love family sagas so I'm expecting good things.


Well I've finally finished this, it did live up to expectations, although towards the end I was lagging a little i...more
After re-reading Cashelmara and liking it as much now as 30 years ago, I picked up this one.
The Wheel of Fortune was much more of a drag. Of the six characters who narrate the story, I only found one sympathetic. Another one, whom I started out liking, eventually succumbed to the same problem as the rest. (view spoiler) All the characters agonize abou...more
Aug 15, 2010 Melissa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone needs to read it.
Recommended to Melissa by: Was given to me with a discarded pile of other books from my G-Ma in Law
This book makes you look deep inside yourself and contemplate your life, the path you have chosen to take in life and the reasons for it, and your relationships with others. It kind of put things into perspective for me concerning my own life.

It makes you ponder, where exactly do you draw the line?

This book has touched me like no ther book has. It has some amazing quotes too (from some of the characters and others) such as:

"Happiness is all a question of getting ones interests in the right ord...more
DREARY PSYCHO BABBLE AND NO ACTION!After doggedly wading through 500+ pages of "drawing the line" and "doing the done thing" waiting for plot development and action rather than referring to what could be interesting, rather than exploring the what could have been intriguing topics, finally said ENOUGH! This was a bloated waste of pulp. Truly disappointed!
Debra Roman
Another book of Susan's that I read a long time ago. I'm looking forward to rereading it. I rarely do that.

8/25 - I finally finished it last night - both volumes and 1,100+ pages. I loved it as much as I did the first time that I read it. And picked up more of the family dymanic throughout the generations this time around. Not a boring moment in the book and loved how it was broken into sections - each told by another family member through the years. Definitely a set to keep for the library alt...more
Engrossing saga of familial relations. This book can be a great lesson to those of us that have a hard time "moving on"
The best family saga ever! All sorts of dysfunction passed down and psycholanalyzed in a Welsh landowning family during the first half of the 20th Century. As with Howatch's earlier books, there is a clever parallel the historical Plantagenet dynasty (from the Black Prince to Henry V), and the interesting effect of multiple (variously reliable) narrators. Howatch's conversion to Christianity is hinted at (or more accurately, perhaps, foreshadowed) by her interesting take on redemption.

I have re-...more
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One of the longest books I have ever read (if not the longest) - 1000+ pages. But what a book! Hugely enjoyable. I actually took this on holiday with me just in case my Kobo ereader broke down (and it did... do not rely on plugs in foreign hotels - suspected power surge)
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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.” 8 likes
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