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A Tangled Web

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  3,328 Ratings  ·  201 Reviews
Over the years sixty members of the Dark family and sixty Penhallows have married one another--but not without their share of fighting and feuding. Now Aunt Becky, the eccentric old matriarch of the clan, has bequeathed her prized possession: a legendary heirloom jug. But the name of the jug's new owner will not be revealed for one year. In the next twelve months beautiful ...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published November 10th 1989 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 1931)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 18, 2014 Melki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I am ready to die. I've felt almost everything in life there is to feel - ay, I've drained my cup. But I mean to die decently and in order. I'm going to have one last grand rally. The date will be announced in the paper. But if you want anything to eat you'll have to bring it with you. I'm not going to bother with that sort of thing on my death-bed."

Not much can stir up old squabbles, grudges and festering resentments like the reading of a will, and I'm pretty sure Aunt Becky has that in mind w
Elinor  Loredan
Apr 03, 2016 Elinor Loredan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, l-m-montgomery
Superb. Absolutely superb. The characters live and step right off the page, leaving me thinking about them after I've closed the book. I like Gay (though she's a weensy bit pathetic and one-track minded) and Roger and Margaret-and even Drowned John, though I wouldn't want to meet him in reality.

All the 'damning' does get a little old-it's almost like LMM was trying to show that she could write something 'realistic' and 'grown-up'- but it doesn't interfere with my delight in the story, nor does t
I have made the decision that the Darks and Penhallows are my favorite LMM clan and a Tangled Web may just be my favorite stand alone LMM book.....yes, I believe that I shall now declare that it is now my favorite stand alone LMM book-- we have to change our favorites as we change, you know :-)

I started out reading this book on the heels of "Magic for Marigold" and "The Blue Castle" just to simply study the clan dynamics. I do love Marigold's clan a lot and I detest Valancy's clan in "The Blue
Jun 30, 2016 Felicity rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l-m-m, classics
4 stars for the book, and one more added just because it's L.M.M who wrote it.

Not like I loved Anne of Green Gables, this is different.
But the plot... And everything!

First of all, let's go through the cons:
1. The love STORIES. You always seem a bit...lost when you have many love stories to read. This is where (in my opinion) L.M.M failed. It only became more and more messy as the story went on. Luckily I was able to keep up, due to my hard concentration. The last part of the b
Oct 06, 2016 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I finally finished this! Woohoo!

Ok, a really short review:

When I started this, I was so excited. And then let down. This book wasn't at all what I expected. The first half of the book was really hard to get through. The second half picked up and I was enjoying it when I was reading it, just not as much as I would've liked.

There were so many characters to keep track of, but I did it! I think I remembered who everyone was and which stories belonged to which characters.

My favorite stories were G
Mar 13, 2013 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was rereading and reviewing The Blue Castle I came across mentions of L.M. Montgomery's other novel targeted toward adults - A Tangled Web. I knew I had read it because if it was by L.M. Montgomery and the Robinson Public Library owned it I read it. I really couldn't remember much. This definitely lacked much of the charm of The Blue Castle and as it focused on so many characters it was hard to get attached to any. It is also hard to review a book that ends with such controversy. No spoil ...more
Naomi Sarah
Bleh. Apparently LMM is capable of writing boring books.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
It all begins with garrulous Aunt Becky and the infamous Dark jug. She may be dying but the old matriarch of the large Dark and Penhallow clan is determined to throw one last "levee" - and stir up her extended family with her plan for bequeathing the heirloom. Dating back to when the first Darks came to Prince Edward Island in the early 19th century, the Dark jug has been in the family ever since, and with it comes a certain prestige for the owner. Over the generations, the Darks and Penhallows ...more
Oct 17, 2016 Francie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't really have any expectations for this one. For unknown reasons the unread book never appealed to me and it is one of the last Montgomery novels I read.

Yet I really liked A Tangled Web. I was intrigued from the very beginning and found myself caring for many of the characters.

It was quite an unusual setting for a Montgomery novel to have that many storylines, but for me, it worked well. I enjoyed reading it and I was pleasantly surprised.
A strange little book. Enjoyable in that it was a rather nice piece of gossip. Very Montgomery with the ideal of the "Clan" family. United against anyone from the "outside" yet snapping and biting each other all the time in private. A book set in its time, place & people. A polite wasp story. Ending is typical for its time but still unnecessarily offensive. I'm not sure what Montgomery was trying to achieve, except she was trying to demonstrate how uncouth the Sams were or she was showing of ...more
Elizabeth S
Sep 06, 2008 Elizabeth S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-misc-fiction
If you've ever read any of Montgomery's short stories, it'll help you to understand what I mean when I say this book is like a bunch of them interwoven together, and hence is better than if they were all separate. The book follows a large family clan through about a year with engagements, weddings, falling in love at first sight, *thinking* you fell in love at first sight, etc. Although it was hard for me to keep so many people straight, I really loved it. Montgomery did a clever job making the ...more
Mar 06, 2014 Tweety marked it as lost-interest  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: L.M.M fans
I'm sorry L.M. Montgomery fans, I just can't read this book right now. I am finding it painful to continue, I only like three people out of the dozens of Penhollows and Darks. In the summer, when I have more patience I may try again. Maybe then I will be able to stomach A Tangled Web.

Right now, I just can't be bothered. Why everyone wants an ugly old vase that has no sentimental value I don't know. They're all ready to bite each others heads off for the stupid thing! And that infuriating Nan! Ug
It was a tangled web indeed so many characters in the families of the Penhallow and the Darks who never married anyone but only within themselves. Their love interests , bickering , gossiping and sarcastic digs at each other constituted the story. It was fun but it took me about 30% of the story to understand who was who and who was who's beau.L M Montgomery is my comfort read and it did not disappoint though it would have been easy on my brains if she had omitted a couple of characters.
Adelaide Mcginnity
This book is an absolute character soup with numerous banal subplots centered about the completely asinine question of who gets an old, ugly heirloom jug. Yet, it is brilliant. In appreciating art, I have always had a soft spot for those works that take things to such extremes that I am forced to love what I would normally hate. In A Tangled Web, L. M. Montgomery succeeds in layering so many different characters that they become part of the setting, and unlike in the similar character stews (lik ...more
Mar 02, 2016 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure I would enjoy this, but once I'd made it through the first couple of chapters it became hugely entertaining. I never did get a grip on who all the cousins were or how everybody was related but it didn't matter - just enjoy the ride. Because the ride is the thing with LMM. It's fairly obvious from the start what the endings of all the subplots will be but it's far from clear how we are going to get there, and her ingenuity often is quite brilliant.

So I think this is one I may come b
Jul 19, 2015 Vatsala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-authors
Could this quaint book of family feuds and reconciliations been given any other name? I guess not. A better title than 'a tangled web' cannot given for such a narrative of intricate, invisible and strange ties that binds and breaks families (read clan).

Like many others, it was the magic of the Blue Castle which brought me into this Tangled web, to say that it was nothing like the beloved Blue Castle was a little disappointing in the beginning but the beauty of the PE Island and the sweetness in
Miranda Atchley
Over the years, 60 Penhallows have married 60 Darks. These two families have formed a clan and its members are expected to marry into each other's families. The clan is full of characters, yet one in particular stands out; Aunt Becky. At 96, Aunt Becky isn't long for this world. Yet her tongue continues to spit fire and she forgets nothing even on her death bead. Most dread an encounter with Aunt Becky fearing that she will drudge up some sordid detail of their past, yet there is one thing that ...more
Mari Anne
Jun 26, 2009 Mari Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the L.M. Montgomery book for adults I was hoping to read. Keep in mind it was first published in 1931... but it is daring and witty, sarcastic and sentimental. This clever story of the Dark and Penhallow clans, whose family trees are more like shrubs, is a fun romp with the skeletons in their closets. It's a behind the scenes look at the best and worst of human nature among the clan and it's entertaining from start (or almost) to the end (not quite). The first section of the first chapte ...more
L.M. Montgomery was very very good at several things, and one of those was keeping a secret from her readers, building suspense until she finally decides to reveal all – which is always done in a satisfying manner. And she never does it better than in A Tangled Web – through the petty jealousies and deep passions and squabbles and allegiances of the tale of the Darks and the Penhallows runs one of the best tantalizers I've ever seen: why did Joscelyn leave Hugh the night of their wedding and ref ...more
L.M. Montgomery usual milieu was the young-girl-grows-up-story, but she occasionally crafted a story aimed toward the more adult end of the spectrum. The Blue Castle, for one, which is a wonderful story.

A Tangled Web is another. First published in 1931, it follows a large cast of characters, all belonging the extended Dark and Penhallow clans as they speculate on who will inherit the "old Dark jug" from dying Aunt Emily.

We particularly pursue half dozen or so of the family members, all of whom
Naomi Kelsey
Dec 25, 2013 Naomi Kelsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I have read and re-read this sweet romance/family drama so many times I know parts by heart.

Although dated (skip the entire section on the feud between two long time best friend sailors over a "native" statue--it's got some iffy, rather racist language that can only be excused by the date of the book, which was written in the 1920's), it has the wildflower warmth and elegant light touch of all of Montgomery's best work.

Two rival clans, the Penhallow
Loses a couple of stars for a ridiculously racist joke at the ending which I did not see coming. Otherwise, this book was a great read if you are looking for a quiet, atmospheric yarn that is very easy.
This is the first L.M. Montgomery book I have read that was less then wonderful. The beginning of the book seemed to take forever. There were so many characters strung together that it became a chore to sort them out. There was only a hint of the charm I usually find in her books and that was probably the biggest disappointment. However, this book highlighted more than usual Montgomery's knack for social commentary. I loved the bridging in generations of this book and the different perspectives ...more
Jun 14, 2016 Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
hilarious. Flat out hilarious. Must read for me :)
Dec 31, 2015 Ami rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love L.M. Montgomery, it's no secret. The fan-girl reverence I feel for this childhood author comes only third to the devotion I have for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Carolyn Keene (whom, yes I know is not an actual person, but just let me have my little fantasy.)
So it is with no small dismay that I must rate a book of Ms. Montgomery's so poorly, but truth be told I did not enjoy it at all. There were so many weak-willed, disagreeable, contrary, or silly characters that I couldn't even keep track
Dec 23, 2015 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book. It was very L.M. Montgomery-style, with very pronounced characters. You have the naive girl who is blindly in love, the flapper girl who was "scandalously modern," the old gossips, the clan drunk, and the list goes on. Most of the characters were lovable in their own way, and this mysterious jug brought so many lives together. The ending was perfect - no other solution involving the jug would have worked. :)

While this was an entertaining book, it was definitely one
Jenn Estepp
It's pretty easy to see why this is not one of L.M. Montgomery's most famous and well-loved - although the plethora of gushy four and five star reviews here are evidence enough that it is still very beloved. If I'd read it when I was younger, I might be among them but today - not so much. It's incredibly slow and hard to get into. I think I actually started it at least three time before finally feeling it and that's mostly due to the fact that it's pretty confusing for the first third of the boo ...more
I remember seeing this in the YA department of my public library in middle school, surprised to find an LMM I didn't know. I tried to read it, and couldn't get into it. So I tried again when I saw we had it in our classics collection. It's a dark, witty, sarcastic, passionate melodrama in the year of a clan who have had all their lives tossed about by a dead aged relative who is making them wait to see who earned an old family jug. One little event had dozens of repercussions.

I found it hard to
Nov 18, 2014 Rikke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lately I have been rediscovering my love for L. M. Montgomery. Her books are witty and charming, sentimental and ironic, filled with atmospheric places and nuanced characters. "A Tangled Web" is so brilliant because Montgomery introduces a broad variety of characters; old lovers, confirmed bachelors, young girls and forgotten spinsters.

"A Tangled Web" begins when Great Aunt Becky dies. She leaves a family heirloom behind, a dark jug which has been in the family for generations. The two branches
Nadine Keels
Sep 12, 2015 Nadine Keels rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book feeling as though I'd just finished several books, as the storylines of several Darks and Penhallows developed and resolved nicely. Oh, so much of the novel is hilarious, with over-ridiculous characters to show us how ridiculous we humans are sometimes, and as always, Montgomery is in fine form with beautiful descriptions of nature that place the reader right there on Prince Edward Island.

The characters use more "language" here than in Montgomery's children's literature--tsk
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Lucy Maud Montgomery was a Canadian author, best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908.

The author of the famous Canadian novel Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery, was born at Clifton, Prince Edward Island, Nov. 30, 1874. She came to live at Leaskdale, north of Uxbridge Ontario, in 1911 after her wedding with Rev. Ewen Macdonald on July 11, 1911
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“It must be admitted frankly that Aunt Becky was not particularly beloved by her clan. She was too fond of telling them what she called the plain truth. And, as Uncle Pippin said, while the truth was all right, in its place, there was no sense in pouring out great gobs of it around where it wasn't wanted. To Aunt Becky, however, tact and diplomacy and discretion, never to mention any consideration for any one's feelings, were things unknown.” 5 likes
“Really, Nan could be very odious when she liked. Yet somehow she [Gay] didn't hate her as before. She felt very indifferent to her. She found herself looking at her with cool, appraising eyes, seeing her as she had never seen her before. An empty, selfish little creature, who had always to be amused like a child. ...A girl who posed as a sophisticate before her country cousins but who was really more provincial than they were, knowing nothing of real life or real love or real emotion of any kind. Gay wondered, as she looked, how she could ever have hated this girl—ever been jealous of her. She was not worth hating. Gay spoke at last. She stood up and looked levelly at Nan. There was contempt in her quiet voice.

"I suppose you came here to hurt me, Nan. You haven't—you can never hurt me again. You've lost the power. I think I even feel a little sorry for you. You've always been a taker, Nan. All through your life you've taken whatever you wanted. But you've never been a giver—you couldn't be because you've nothing to give. Neither love nor truth nor understanding nor kindness nor loyalty. Just taking all the time and giving nothing—oh, it has made you very poor. So poor that nobody need envy you.”
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