Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cashelmara by Susan Howatch

"There were two subjects which lonely widower Edward de Salis never discussed: his dead wife and his family home in Ireland, 'matchless Cashelmara'. So when he meets Marguerite, a bright young American with whom he can talk freely about both, he is able to love again and takes her back to Ireland as his wife. But Marguerite soon discovers that married life is not what she expected, and that she has married into a troubled family bitterly divided by love and hatred. Cashelmara becomes the curse of three generations as they play out their fates in a spellbinding drama, which moves inexorably towards murder and retribution."
(from Amazon)

my thoughts:

What an absolutely fabulous, impossible-to-put-down family saga!

Spanning several generations of a titled English family beginning with Edward de Salis in 1859, this sweeping story of duty, passion, ambition, and revenge has it all! From the family home, Cashelmara, in Ireland, to glittering London society, and the nouveau riche of New York, the author reveals each character's story from their point-of-view, painting fascinating contrasting portraits of the dramatic events 0f 1859 through 1891.....and indeed, Cashelmara has it's share of high drama! Marriages of duty rather than love; an irresponsible heir leads to near financial ruin....secret, twisted passions turns life for one bride into a nightmarish hell.... smoldering tensions of Cashelmara's Irish tenants living in poverty threaten the security of the inhabitants of the home...I could go on and on raving about this rich and mighty saga! The story just sucked me in from the very first page and kept me hanging on until the very last shocking and thrilling conclusion. I felt I knew the characters so well and became very emotionally involved in the story --- I so admired Marguerite, whose strength and dignity carries the family through so many heartaches and tragedies, and I just wanted to strangle Patrick, the spineless, spoiled heir who's immaturity and selfishness just left me speechless! I experienced a roller coaster of emotions while reading Cashelmara, and I love that in a book!

Long ago, I read Howatch's The Rich are Different and I remember enjoying it very much. I think it's time to dust off some of her other titles and experience more family dramas. (I recently picked up Penmarric at my parish library sale, so I'm eager to get started on it.)

5/5 stars Fantastic read!

Title: Cashelmara
Author: Susan Howatch
Ballantine Books
672 pages
genre: historical fiction


Misfit said...

I loved this book, as well as Penmarric and Wheel of Fortune. I assume you are aware of the Plantagenet parallels in the three books? Penmarric is Henry, Eleanor and their devil's brood. Cashelmara, Edward I, II and of course Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser. Wheel of Fortune is Edward III, Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke. And yes, you do get John of Gaunt and his Katherine.

Joanne said...

Hi, Misfit -- Yes, I loved the epigraph before each character's story. I'm glad to get reacquainted with Howatch -- I find I'm getting drawn more and more to authors from my youth! :)

Anne said...

I read Penmarric a few years ago and I enjoyed it. From reading your review, Cashelmara sounds even better. Thanks for the great review.

Staci said...

Your enthusiastic review and the 5 stars has me looking to find this title somewhere!

Joanne said...

Hi Anne & Staci - This book was so good, I put it on my all-time favorite list! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :)

Melissa @ Confessions of an Avid Reader said...

Guess I'm going to have to keep my eyes open for this one after your glowing review, Joanne :-)

Joanne said...

Hey, Melissa - Susan Howatch was a "big" name waaaay back when I was in high school/college (late 70's)!! Don't know why I didn't read more of her books because she's great! Big, thick, doorstopper type books that I just get lost in.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I read this years ago when I was in high school and remember loving it! Your review brings back many memories! I read Penmaric too, bygone days!

Carole Rae said...

Woooow sounds like a pretty good book. Great review. =D

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