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The Wheel of Fortune

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,792 ratings  ·  209 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
ebook, 338 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Open Road Media (first published 1984)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  2,792 ratings  ·  209 reviews

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Feb 25, 2009 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
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 a ...more
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
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
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 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 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.
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kate Quinn
Jun 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 19, 2008 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.
Nov 20, 2014 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who doesn’t love a family saga? As Susan Howatch wrote a 20th-century tale based on the medieval Plantagenet story, I loved this one especially well. I became as obsessive as its characters, returning to the stories of the family members who cherished and coveted the grand Oxmoon estate, and who were as complicit in glossing over the sins of the past as in perpetuating the stifling class idealism that would ensure those mistakes would get repeated in the future. Brothers fight with brothers over ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This huge, dramatic, glorious, complex family saga reeled me in page by page (ok, screen by screen...I confess). Each lengthy chapter is told from a different character's point of view, so the reader gets both intimate insights into each complex personality as well as a more balanced perspective. It can be a challenge to keep it all straight, but the drama continues at a fast pace so I never got bored.

There were times when the overuse of "doing the done thing" and "drawing the line" got on my n
Sep 19, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely terrible. A promising premise, a twentieth-century aristocratic approach to one of the most famous royal families in history (Plantagenets), and one of my favorite periods, disastrously lost itself in irritating, one dimensional characters with no plot, flow or redeeming qualities. The characters were irritating, the dialogue impossible to follow and page after page of self absorbed ramblings. The only thing remotely enjoyable was matching the modern characters to their historic count ...more
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 23, 2011 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
Mar 17, 2011 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
Nov 27, 2010 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.
megan ♡
Aug 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think I'm gonna have to DNF this. I just tried to read some more of it and I find it so dull. Maybe I'll come back to it in the future, but I don't think I will. I have no interest in forcing myself to read this. It is miles too long and it put me into a reading slump.
Jun 26, 2010 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!!

This was a long and tedious slog, and the last 5th was actually painful. Not recommended for anyone.
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You guys! Holy moly, this was an undertaking. I love long tales that keep me engrossed and reading and I usually don’t want them to end. But this one, by the time it ended, I was sort of glad. I am ready to get back into my reading groove and on to a different tale. If you choose to undertake this journey, recognize this is a marathon and not a sprint.

This book could’ve been a series of several books, as each characters tale is worthy of a book dedicated completely to their own story. Each sect
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE" (1984) Book Review

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 kn
Pavani Ambagahawattha
The Wheel of Fortune is a book I'll never forget reading.

It fell into my lap by sheer and complete coincidence- a tatty, thousand page horror obtained second hand from the old collection of an aunt who had obtained it second hand herself. Ancient. To this day, I have no idea why I even started reading it- it seemed too long, too heavy, too boring.

Oh how wrong I was.

I read it- all 1149 pages of it- in two days, two days of doing literally nothing else save for the occasional fridge raid, bathr
A difficult book. On the one hand, very well written, sometimes extremely funny, and lots of twists and turns to the inevitable who-dun-it. On the other hand, extremely long, extremely redundant, and too much melodrama. A nice windup at the end leads back to the very beginning, but it's contrived. The most interesting, and perspicacious, character, is a psychiatrist! These people, with just a few exceptions (like Bronwen) are just too neurotic to sustain interest.
J. Joan
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 05, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Used to camp on the Gower Peninsular in a beautiful bay called Port Eynon. The bay just before you reached this, back towards Swansea, was called Oxmore, well, Oxmore something, and I'll check it up when back on the Big Girl Computer.
Anyway, this bay was particularly popular with surfing crowd because of the rather treacherous currents and cross currents - perfect for a game of wet suited chicken with added ironingboard. There was a big house back inland from this stretch of shingled shore and i
Linda Gillard
Nov 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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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