My boyfriend said to me “Why are you reading that it looks like a trashy Danielle Steele novel?”, well don’t let the dodgy cover put you off, this book is fantastic. It is a well-written, fascinating historical saga. I LOVE Susan Howatch’s historical novels. I first read this when I was a teenager and it is just one of those books that you keep returning to every few years as you know you will get an engrossing, page turner that will make you want to give up doing anything apart from reading.
This story is based upon the lives of the English King Edwards I, II and III, and as you would expect due to their momentous lives, this novel is pretty dramatic. The story however is updated to 19th century Ireland with the country estate Cashelmara representing the English kingdom. Every section ends with a cliffhanger so you just have to keep reading.
The novel opens with the story of the aristocratic and successful Edward de Salis, a widower in his 60s, who has travelled to America (which represents the French kingdom) where he meets 18-year-old Marguerite and falls in love with her. Unfortunately Edward’s son Patrick is completely unsuited to the requirements of being an aristocratic landowner, he prefers wood carving, art, gambling and has a strong attachment to his friend Derry O Strachlan which alienates all of those around him. After Edward’s death the situation becomes more and more destructive with Patrick taking another male lover and his wife Sarah vowing to destroy them. After all this intrigue and murder it is left to their son Ned to try to restore Cashelmara to its former glory.
If you haven’t read any of Susan Howatch’s novels before but you love history and a great read I would certainly recommend this or Penmarric or the Wheel of Fortune, her three best novels.