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4.10  ·  Rating details ·  5,831 ratings  ·  289 reviews
Set against the starkly beautiful landscape of Cornwall, PENMARRIC is the totally enthralling saga of a family divided against itself. At the center of the novel is the great mansion called Penmarric. It is to Penmarric that Mark Castallack, a proud, strange, and sensitive man, brings his bride Janna--the first act in a tempestuous drama that was to span three generations. ...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published July 12th 1984 by Fawcett (first published 1971)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Penmarric, Susan Howatch

Set against the starkly beautiful landscape of Cornwall, Penmarric is the totally enthralling saga of a family divided against itself. At the center of the novel is the great mansion called Penmarric. It is to Penmarric that Mark Castallack, a proud, strange, and sensitive man, brings his bride Janna--the first act in a tempestuous drama that was to span three generations.... Originally published: 1971.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و دوم ماه نوامبر سال 2003میلادی

عنوان: پنم
Alex is The Romance Fox
I love family sagas and Susan Howatch has written some amazing books about feuding families, intrigue, greed and complicated love and I discovered her writing when I first read this book years ago.

An enthralling story that spans 3 generations of the Casttallack and how their obsession with owning Penmarric,
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a mansion situated in the stark and beautiful area of Cornwall,
 photo AA97_07449_zpscrkigimc.jpg  photo BB98_01859_zpsxpofuelg.jpg
causes the family to be divided for ever.

The characters are great and liked the way the
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ by: Misfit

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When people think of the 70s, they generally think of bell bottom trousers, Farrah Fawcett hair, or disco. Me? I think of chunky family sagas. Before the bodice-ripper craze of the 1980s, Gothic romances and multi-tiered family epics were in, and PENMARRIC is the perfect example of what a prized specimen of the genre looks like. Based on the lives of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their many children, PENMARRIC is set in late 19C
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
I was ten years old when I first saw the inheritance and twenty years old when I first saw Janna Roslyn, but my reaction to both was identical. I wanted them.

Idly browsing through books at my town's equivalent of Little Free Library - how could I resist an opening paragraph like that?

Turned out the opening was the best thing about this bloated, overblown book, which is loosely based on the Plantagenet royal house.

This book had two things that I normally hate in fiction.

» It was more than 450
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Penmarric begins as Mark Castallack and his mother Maud, cheated out of their inheritance by a scheming relative, wage a years long court battle to regain possession of the lands of Penmar and the great house that sits upon it, Penmarric. After twelve years and almost losing hope, fate takes a turn as the wastrel son of the current owner dies and a very young Mark is named heir to all of it. Mark marries Janna, who is ten years older, and has a bit of a surprise in store for him from a past rela ...more
I loved Cashelmara (4 stars) and The Wheel of Fortune (5 stars), and was really looking forward to Penmarric, another in Howatch's series paralleling the lives of the infamous Plantagenets. Sadly though it missed on every level, from the weak characterisations to the rambling storytelling. How can a tale based on the dynastic Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their Devil's Brood feel so flat, so empty, so dull? Where was the passion, the scheming, the treachery?

Had I been reading it alone, I'd
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reading
I fell in love with ‘Penmarric’ years ago, when I was still at school, from the very first sentences.

“I was ten years old when I first saw Penmarric and twenty years old when I first saw Janna Roslyn, but my reaction to both was identical.”

I had to read on, and I was gripped from start to finish. I read every other book by Susan Howatch I could find. I liked some more than others, but all have something to recommend them. But my favourites were the three big books that reset stories from mediaev

Really more like 2.5 stars.

I had high expectations for this book and thought I had everything I needed for a great reading experience:

1. A book by an author who I had previously read and loved. Check.
2. A story and characters based on the lives of the 12th century's favourite dysfunctional family--Henry II of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their devil's brood. Check.
3. Wet, cold weather and a 700+ page chunkster to snuggle in with. Check.
4. And Anna, my reading buddy, to share the fun with. C
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Odd book. Maybe it's supposed to be a bodice-ripper or an epic, or an epic bodice-ripper. But I found it tiresome, the characters less than likable and the historical settings more an attempt for Susan Howatch to appear erudite than useful for the plot. I did like the Plantagenet foreshadowing for each chapter, however. ...more
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of sagas.
First read this in 1972, then again in the mid-80s, by which time Howatch had also written CASHELMARA, THE RICH ARE DIFFERENT, SINS OF THE FATHERS and THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE.

I've just un-boxed my copy and set it on my TBR pile - I think a re-read will be fun. I remember it as a very engrossing story, though when I first read it I had no idea who the characters were inspired by, though Howatch begins each chapter with quotes from historical works - her game here and in others was to take historical
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the late 1800s, Mark inherits the family manor, Penmarric, in Cornwall, England. He and Jana fall in love and he asks her to marry him but she is reluctant since she is several years older. As she feared, after marriage and seven children, they drift apart when Janna finds out that Mark has another household with his mistress and two illegitimate children. The marriage spirals downward and it is a vicious tug of war from then on. However, Mark and Jana are only the supporting cast of characte ...more
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I enjoyed reading this a lot. The writing is really excellent and draws the reader through the story. The motivations of the characters, the relationships between the characters, the voices of the characters are all so well done. Her characters, too, do not remain static but mature, grow, and change and their voices reflect this. Sympathies with one character narrator become antipathies with the next. Howatch teaches us how to consider the perspective of those we love ... and those we hate.
Aug 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lee, Lisa, Jeannette
Recommended to Laura by: Misfit
Another fabulous book by Susan Howatch telling the Castallack family saga from 1890 to 1945. Jan-Yves story is my favorite among all the Penmarric's masters. It's quite interesting the parallelism made by the author with the Plantagenet history. Thanks Misfit for this book recommendation. The Wheel of Fortune will be the next book to read soon. ...more
Holly Weiss
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Penmarric was Susan Howatch's first book, written when she was twenty-six. It is different in style than her later books, particularly the Starbridge series focusing on Anglican priests. Penmarric shows her working on her craft of creating complex characters (which she does well), but we don’t see the depth of plot she cultivated as she continued to write. The characters of Penmarric are deeply flawed individuals, but she writes great growth and change in them.

The book follows a family through t
Aug 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
I really, really wanted to like this book. A friend recommended Howatch to me and I read the first 2 books in her Church of England series. Despite a tendency to not have any good, strong female characters, I loved them, and I'm not even particlarly religious. So, when I found out that she had a series of books based on the Plantagenets (my favorite historical family), I immediately hunted them down. What a disappoinment this first one was. There was not a single character I cared for. They were ...more
Sep 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
I loved this book when it first came out years ago. I picked it up the other day at the library - wondering if it would hold up over the years. I'm at about page 80 and I am really enjoying it.

10/10/10 I just finished it and it's still a good a read as when it first came out. I would recommend it to anyone interested in books spanning different generations. It is set at the end of the 19th century in Britain, mainly along the coast of Cornwall and extends to about 1945
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Drama-filled family stuff. It was entertaining for sure...but kinda depressing! I wish she had added just a few more wholesome, redeeming characters to get me through all the realistic, selfish characters. :) Each chapter was from a different character's perspective, and that was intriguing. It also reminded me of an Isabel Allende book I've read...similar family saga issues. ...more
Dec 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
I could not get through this book. Generally I'm one to always plow through to the end, but only read about a third before giving up. I couldn't find it in me to like any of the characters and really couldn't bring myself to care about what happened to them. ...more
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mark Castallack falls in love with Penmarric the moment he first sets eyes upon the gothic mansion on the Cornish tin coast, determined that one day it shall belong to him, just as he later determines that the beautiful widowed Janna will also one day be his. Spanning across five decades or so from the late Victorian era to the 1940s, Penmarric follows the rise and fall of the Castallacks, through their joys and loves, jealousies and rivalries.

My first read from Howatch, I was drawn to this book
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book is divided into 5 parts and commences in 1890 with the narrative of a young Mark Castallack who introduces us to Penmarric, an estate in Cornwall which was to be inherited by his mother Maud, but which instead went to her cousin Giles who in turn had warmed his way to Maud’s father affection, after the death of her brother. Maud herself was separated from her scholarly and gentlemanly husband Laurence Castallack and instead resides in London and spends her life in a legal battle to secu ...more
Small Review
Most of everything I said about Cashelmara can be said about Penmarric. The writing is rich, the characters are real, and the parallels between the surface story and the history it retells are fascinating individually and together. Chapters again are large and narration again switches from one character to another.

Instead of the 1300s, the historical parallel here is Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their "devil's brood," including Richard the Lionheart and the evil King John. And, perhaps
Bleak and Dreary

This is the story of Mark Castallack and his life with his family, actually, with his two families. Mark is lucky with money, but totally unlucky in love. All his kids either hate each other or feel nothing. Mark manages to humiliate all around him. That is the story.

It is well-written, and has a gimmicky plot device that lets contemporary characters follow the life of King John of England. This is a signature quirk of several of Howatch's novels. It is an interesting turn. Howat
Susan Liston
I first read this when I was in high school, and adored it and read it multiple times. As years passed I always meant to re-read it, then finally I became afraid to, fearing it would, well, suck - I don't always trust my youthful taste. Finally I just dove in and was surprised to see that it is based on the story of Henry II and his "Devil's Brood", which would have meant nothing to me at the time. (And how odd that I just watched "A Lion in Winter" a couple of weeks ago. Katharine Hepburn wears ...more
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am giving this 4 stars because it was so clever and took so much research to write it, but I really did not enjoy the reading experience. The story is set around mid 1800's to 1940 and it is based on the real couple of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine which is mid 1100s to say 1300. Their children are called the Devil's Brood which may be indicator of my problem. So everyone in the novel is a sad or horrible person, because of they all just hate each other. This is the ultimate dysfunctional ...more
I went back into the time machine for this historical fiction read which was published in 1971. I had read about Susan Howatch in Michael Korda's memoir, Another Life. He said this of her, "It is a frequently stated basic belief of book publishing that somewhere in the country at any given moment some unknown woman is writing a major best-seller (usually referred to as the 'the next Gone with the Wind') at her kitchen table while looking after her baby, but this was the first time I had experien ...more
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Melodrama follows melodrama as this family of brutes vies for ascendancy in Howatch's more modern retelling of the lives of the 12th century's Henry II of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their devil's brood. The setting is Cornwall's tin coast and the family is the Castallacks of Penmarric. The time period- 1890 to 1945 gives insight into the impact of two world wars, women's suffrage in Britain, the life and death of tin mining in Cornwall, the rise of the Labour Party/unemployment between th ...more
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wow. Once again, Susan Howatch has taken a family and given it a parallel story to an important family in British history - - in this case, Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their sons, most particularly Richard the Lionheart and King John II. Penmarric spans the late 1800's through World War II and is similar, but not quite the same, as the original true story. Since I have always loved the Plantagenet era, these books perhaps appeal to me more than they might to others - - but even ...more
Sep 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Anna by: goodreads
This book kept showing up on my recommendations list and was getting glowing reviews, so I was thrilled when I found a copy at my library. I was expecting Daphne du Maurier so it was disappointing to say the least -- I am so happy I finally finished this book. I lost interest in this book during the first part and never got back into it ... it was just a chore to read.
It's a family saga (which I normally enjoy) that spans 3 generations spanning about 50 years and told by 5 characters. I finally
♥ Marlene♥
I read this book so long ago I had totally forgotten it so I picked it to read and I can't stop reading. I even read during the day because I love it so much.

Update. Finished the book a few days ago. 25th of September.Sad it is finished. That means a good book when it is huge and you still want more! I cried twice! reading this book and I don't consider myself a book crier ;)

Maybe I will read this again 10 to 20 years from now .
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2012
This was a re-read for me. I know I read it probably 25 yrs ago, but of course, remembered nothing when I picked it up at a beach house for something to read. After enjoying the Downton Abbey television series, this family saga fell right in step with that one, through the change of the 20th century and WWI. I liked the way the book was put together with each character doing a segment from their own perspective. Very good read!
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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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