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A Tangled Web

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  4,368 ratings  ·  343 reviews
No amount of drama between the Dark and Penhallow families can prepare them for what follows when Aunt Becky bequeaths her prized heirloom jug - the owner to be revealed in one year's time. The intermarriages, and resulting fighting and feuding, that have occurred over the years grow more intense as Gay Penhallow's fiancé leaves her for the devious Nan Penhallow; Peter Pen ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 1st 1989 by Seal Books (first published 1931)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,368 ratings  ·  343 reviews

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Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
"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
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although in L.M. Montgomery's 1931 (adult themed) novel A Tangled Web most of the various and diverse both living and yes also long and recently deceased depicted and featured members of the Penhallow and Dark clans (and with recently deceased I also mean family matriarch Aunt Becky Dark, née Penhallow) have made me want to generally giggle (and often quite derisively) and sometimes also scream more than a bit impatiently at the Penhallows and Darks and their behaviours, their antics (via the un ...more
Elinor  Loredan
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I cannot believe I didn't like this book the first time I read it. It's full of everything good in an L.M. Montgomery story, from humor to romance to judgmental families. ;) I really, really, REALLY like this book. <3

Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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.
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
Mari Anne
Jun 23, 2009 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
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Montgomery fans
One of my absolute favorite L.M. Montgomery books. This story about two quarreling fictional families in Prince Edward Island was just amazing. I think it is probably why I loved family drama stories so much!
The Captain
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Ahoy there mateys! I adore this author and featured her in me Broadside No. 18. So image me surprise when I read Matey Briana’s review of this book:

"Before Aunt Becky dies, she tells her clan that she’s going to leave a cherished heirloom jug to one of them–but they won’t know the beneficiary until one year after her passing. Even worse: she’s not going to tell them how she’s deciding who gets it, so they’ll have to be on their best behavior just in case she’s instructed someone still living to
Sep 03, 2008 rated it liked it
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 off by ...more
Elizabeth S
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
The Daydreamologist
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is hilarious! Even though I've already read it twice, I still keep laughing at the same places . In my opinion, this book is one of Montgomery's best works. It doesn't focus on one character, it looks at the same scene from all directions.
Miranda Atchley
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Adelaide Mcginnity
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 18, 2015 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 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
This is my favorite of all Montgomery's books. I love the whole Dark and Penhallow clans. I love all the little loves and hates and side stories. I love the ridiculousness of the jug. It's not perfect, in spite of my 5 stars. I do get tired of all the "damning" of things, as if it's the only way LMM could figure out how to make it aimed towards adults. The last line is almost unforgivable as well, even accounting for the differences of time and place. But oh the stories! So many different storie ...more
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. But hated the last line.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Who Enjoy Heartwarming Family Stories
One of the few L.M. Montgomery titles that I did not read in my childhood, A Tangled Web was a double treat, in that it contained so many well-loved Montgomery "types," but was also wholly new to me. The simultaneous feeling of friendly familiarity and excited discovery that I experienced while reading it made it the ideal book in which to lose myself for a few wonderful hours.

Chronicling one year in the life of the interrelated Dark and Penhallow clans, whose many scandals, quarrels, and love a
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Dec 17, 2013 marked it as lost-interest
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
Dec 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childhood
I liked this a lot. There were some characters I wish there had been more depth on, like Brian, but overall I liked the range of characters. I could have done without the last chapter, however; the Sams were my least favorite pair (in terms of their reconciliation) and the last paragraph left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Overall, though, I really liked it!
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I returned to this book over and over when I was younger. This one is witty and paints vastly different characters quite vividly. I laughed throughout the story at their loves and follies and loved each of their crazy adventures tremendously.
Bethany Michelle  Planton
A Tangled Web is one of L.M. Montgomery's stand-alone books. It took a little getting used to because the book follows so many people, and it was hard to keep them all straight at first. But after a few pages, the characters came to life, and I wanted to know their stories.
M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews
I loved this book! The various family tales in here were intriguing to read about, and I especially liked the character of the old aunt who started this whole mess ;)
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I forgot about the abundant swearing for a LMM book and racist ending but the humor is still brilliant.
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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.” 7 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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