Philip's Reviews > Penmarric

Penmarric by Susan Howatch
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's review
Dec 28, 2009

really liked it
Recommended for: Fans of sagas.
Read in January, 2010 , read count: 3

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 characters and put them in another time-frame, so in PENMARRIC we have Henry II and Eleanor of Acquitaine (think Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn in THE LION IN WINTER!) transported to Cornwall in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Instead of the Crown of England, it's the great estate of Penmarric that's at stake here. She established here the format she used in the subsequent novels already cited, that of sequential narrators, each of whom play a significant role in the story moves the story along until the next character takes over.

Howatch is a gifted storyteller who wrote several 'gothic romances' prior to publishing PENMARRIC, and the very gothic-style phrase "I was just" apppears many times throughout her novels ("I was just setting down my teacup when..." "I was just wondering whether he'd ever appear when..."

01/11/10: I thoroughly enjoyed my re-read of PENMARRIC - it even got me to re-watch THE LION IN WINTER. Despite its 735-page length, PENMARRIC is an engrossing and surprisingly fast read.
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Reading Progress

01/02/2010 page 206
01/08/2010 page 463
65.77% "It inspired me to watch THE LION IN WINTER again."
01/11/2010 page 711
100% "Expect to finish it today."
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