Read The Wheel of Fortune by Susan Howatch Online

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Robert Godwin's tumultuous ride on the Wheel of Fortune begins with his passion for his sensual cousin Ginevra, as they waltz to 'The Blue Danube' beneath the chandeliers at Oxmoon, his beloved family home in Wales. As Robert discovers, his rational, well-ordered mind will be forever altered by his obsession for Ginevra, and his destiny will be forever linked to Oxmoon byRobert Godwin's tumultuous ride on the Wheel of Fortune begins with his passion for his sensual cousin Ginevra, as they waltz to 'The Blue Danube' beneath the chandeliers at Oxmoon, his beloved family home in Wales. As Robert discovers, his rational, well-ordered mind will be forever altered by his obsession for Ginevra, and his destiny will be forever linked to Oxmoon by the skeletons which lurk in the family closet...For fifty years, from the sinister summer afternoon of 1913 to the 1960s, the Godwin family are sucked into a maelstrom of passion, disorder, madness and murder. Fortunes rise and fall in this sweeping, compulsive tale, until the Wheel of Fortune finally comes full circle....

Title : The Wheel of Fortune
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780751553109
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 992 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Wheel of Fortune Reviews

  • Misfit
    2019-05-31 07:58

    Murder, madness and mayhem - oh my. The Godwins have lived at Oxmoon for generations. The story begins in 1913, and is narrated by Robert the younger (all the first born sons of the first born sons are named Robert). Robert senior struggles to bring the estate back to financial health after it was run into the ground by his mother's notorious lover, Owain Bryn-Davies. Robert is raised with distant cousin Ginevra (Ginette) and the two maintain a strong bond of friendship that eventually blossoms into love - at least for Robert although he must wait until he's old enough to declare his feelings – but *something* happens that sends his plans spiraling and Ginette suddenly elopes with another man. The pair eventually meet again years later when Ginette is widowed, but can their love and friendship overcome the horrible secret that caused Ginette to flee Oxmoon in the first place? The story continues with that of Robert's younger brother John, the stalwart of the family who always does the "done" thing - that is until the just-barely-widowed John meets the very married and terribly unsuitable (common!) Bronwen and falls head over heels in love. Even when she is free Bronwen is not a suitable wife for John and he marries another heiress instead. Will he make a choice for true happiness or continue doing the "done thing”? The last third of the book carries to the next generation with the conflicts between cousins Christopher (Kester) and Harry. Kester is Robert's son and heir to Oxmoon, but John's son Harry thinks John should have been the heir and the battle between the two cousins eventually ignites with deadly consequences. The very last section is Hal's story (Harry's son) as he returns to Oxmoon to try to find out what really happened between the two at their final confrontation on The Worm's Head (do Google that and look at the photos - awesome).Of course there's a whole lot more to the story than that but I am not into book reports. I found this to be a grand ride taking me from the early 1900s on through the 1960s, and Howatch's method of using alternating narratives of the main characters is awesome (PG and Weir you should take lessons from her). I loved seeing the relationship between Robert and Ginette from both perspectives, and I adored John's story as he struggles to do the right thing even when his heart is pulled into another direction. As for the stormy love-hate relationship between Kester and Harry - wow, just wow. The very last with Hal I didn't care for as much and I almost wished Howatch had left off after Harry's story, but she ended up pulling a couple of excellent twists that I was not expecting. One final note and that is the twist on this book, is that the Godwin's story parallels that of England's Plantagenets - Edward III, Edward The Black Prince, Joan the Fair Maid of Kent, John of Gaunt (yes, there is a Katherine), Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke (Henry IV) and Henry V. For readers who like bit fat meaty sagas with a healthy dose of soap opera angst and anguish this just might be the book for you. 5/5 stars and highly recommended along with her two books that precede this, Penmarric and Cashelmara.

  • Samantha
    2019-06-21 07:01

    Ah, how to rate a 1000+ page family saga that attempts to retell 14th century Plantagenet drama as a 20th century story . . . . All this royal eccentric behavior sure seems outrageous compared to Victorian and Edwardian standards!The story is split into sections told by different members of the Godwin family to move it through the generations. We begin with Robert Godwin (one of many), who is our Edwardian Black Prince to Ginette, his Fair Maid of Kent. I especially enjoyed how Howatch creatively gave these characters personalities that suited the historical person they represented but fit into the more modern times and gave a modern twist to historical events. Instead of the kingdom of England, the Godwin's are masters of the estate of Oxmoon.Once the story moved to Ginevra's point of view, I realized that Howatch also has a skill for creating a real person, who is one person inside and another to each person they encounter. As Ginette herself says, there's so much we don't know about those who are closest to us. Though the characters talk A LOT about sex, we also see that a marriage can be based on so many other things.John, Robert's brother - yes there are also brothers Lionel, Edmund, and Thomas - is our next narrator. He struggles to be upstanding, to "do the done thing", and makes himself miserable in the process. The past creeps up to mess with poor John en force. Lion and Edmund fight in WWI, side by side with their French allies rather than against them like their historical counterparts.You are seeing the pattern now.... Kester is the 20th century, ill-fated and eccentric Richard II. This character is cleverly written to sometimes gain the reader's sympathy and at other times make one want to kill him as much as half his family wanted to. Somehow both bold but never the perfect Godwin that he wishes to be, Kester is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, even years after his death.When Harry takes over, the narration and Oxmoon, he and Kester have a battle royal. Through it all, each generation struggles with their desires versus what is expected, scandalous family history, and that sneaky insanity that tries to creep up on each of them.Hal's story is the only part I could have done without. In his attempt to solve his family's mysteries, Hal becomes repetitive and a little bit of a bore. (Or maybe it was the more modern setting, 1966 and beyond, that I just wasn't as interested in.) I did enjoy the final twists and turns, but could have done without several recaps of what I had just read.Overall, a unique take on my dear Plantagenets that had me captivated, made me laugh, and made me look at people a little bit differently. Themes of the Oxmoon estate, "The Blue Danube", and doing the done thing carry this story forth and unite the characters through beautiful prose and realistic characters. "You can't divide these unfortunate people neatly into heroes and villains - it's simply not that kind of story!" Don't be afraid of the number of pages. This novel is worth it.

  • Judi Anne
    2019-06-25 15:24

    This novel is a little over a 1000 pages but don’t let that put you off. If you love great English historical fiction this really is the best. I’ve read Cashelmara and Penmarric and loved them but this novel is my favorite. Loosely based on the last of the Plantatgenets,  it begins with a new cast where Cashelmara ends. The very detailed novel concentrates on the Godwin’s beloved family home of Oxmoon in Gower, South Wales and focuses on the class structure of England in the early 1900s. There are six narrations from the 1920s to the 1970s. Ms. Howatch uses this unique style to give the reader multiple views of each character. Just as you have one strong opinion about a character the story shifts and the reader has a deeper view of personalities and perspectives, making the storyline extremely interesting.I nearly abandoned this during the first section which is about the very unlikable Robert Godwin who is the character that the rest of the saga surrounds. Robert appeared to be a boring, full of himself, pathetic creature. Through the novel he still remains peculiar, however, as you get to know him and understand his personality he becomes fascinating, if not likable. Then, there is his cousin who is two years older than him. Robert’s obsession with the sensual Ginevra becomes his downfall as he throws himself into a disastrous marriage with her. The reader captures the real Ginevra, aside from Robert’s viewpoint, in the next narration. The thought provoking story evolves into a dark Gothic tale and takes off at very high speed. The turbulent theme is primarily based on competitive cousins, the burden of guilt, mayhem and madness. At this point my control was taken away from me as the pages seemed to turn themselves and the novel will stay with me for a very long time!  

  • Tanja Berg
    2019-06-12 09:07

    Wohoo! I'm done! I read all of it! Of course, it was a total drag from about half way through so I'm not sure this is such a marvellous achievement. I did not like this at all as much as some of the other books I've read by Susan Howatch. However, I read those when I was in my twenties and far more easily impressed than I am now.The book tells the story of the grand old estate of Oxmoon, and the people on it. It is a family saga spanning several generations, starting at the end of the 20th century, and told through several first-person voices. They are quite different and by the end of each I was glad there was another to move on to. It is a story of failed love, failed grandeur and most of all, men failing to draw the line.This line is a returning theme. I don't know how many times one of the characters exclaimed "here I draw the line!" and thus attempting to do the done thing again. There is plenty of sibling rivalry, mostly in regards to who would get to inherit Oxmoon. My biggest problem with this book is how I didn't really understand what the author was trying to say. It was just a very, very long book getting at very little. It's well-written and all, but there's no great mystery to solve (just several smaller ones) and little forward tension. It took me almost two weeks to finish, and normally I would have read twice as many pages in the same time. I'm glad it's not sitting on my shelf whispering "read me" anymore. It won't be kept as a friend either though, will be relegated to the back-row of a shelf and quietly forgotten.

  • Jemidar
    2019-06-03 13:20

    More like 4.5 stars.Very clever and detailed 'modern' interpretation of the lives of the English historical figures Edward (AKA The Black Prince), Joan (AKA The Fair Maid of Kent), John of Gaunt, Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V. The cast come alive in this multi-generational saga that encompasses everything from scandal, lust, murder, sodomy, drunkenness, abuse, illegitimacy, jealously, madness and extortion spanning the years 1913 to 1966. I seriously loved how the author wove the historical facts into a riveting story which gave a great psychological and sympathetic insight into the characters. There were no heros or villains just people doing the best they could as the actions of earlier generations echoed down the years. Wonderfully salacious, and satisfyingly dark & dysfunctional.Another great chunkster buddy read with my good friend Anna :-).

  • Rachel
    2019-06-25 11:24

    Best book I've ever read. I plan to read it again in 5-10 years.

  • Anna
    2019-06-27 11:57

    Sodomy, adultery, murder, robbery, madness, lust. That's how one of the characters describes his family's antics, and he ain't wrong.Set in the first half of the 20th century, but beautifully paralleling the lives of Edward III, the Black Prince, John of Gaunt, Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V, this is the story of the Godwins, masters of Oxmoon. Each generation is haunted by the sins of the fathers, each of them clinging to the mantra of 'I draw the line' in a desperate attempt to ward off their heavy ghosts. The book is split into six sections each narrated by a different character battling their own set of inner demons, but at its cataclysmic heart are Kester and Harry. Their bitter lifelong rivalry turns to obsession, twisting ever more sinister until their chilling games of cat-and-mouse finally become a horrifying reality where even victory can't bring release.A dark, destructive, delicious tale; I loved it!Thanks Jemidar for another crazy doorstopper of a buddy read :-)

  • Laura
    2019-06-07 12:24

    This book is one of those books you can read and re-read countless times and still find the story interesting. I myself didn't see the connection between some of the characters and real life historical people or time periods, but I'm not all that well versed in European history. In fact, if I'd read a review of the book stating that the characters and time were based on the Plantagenests (sp???), I probably would have run away screaming because it would have made me think Wheel of Fortune sounded suspiciously like something that would be required reading in one of my lierature classes, and back when I first discovered this book I was in college looking for fun and interesting books to take my mind off the books that were required reading in the many literature classes I took. As a college student, I was inherently suspicious of any book I "had" to read. Of course that's ridiculous and closeminded, and now some of my most favorite books and authors are ones I scorned as a student.[By the way, please DON'T take my reference to the more scholarly/well-informed reviews as criticism of the readers who wrote those reviews or as criticism of their review, because I most definitely didn't mean it that way.]Back to my own thoughts about the book. Although extremely long, I read this book in record time because the the plot drew me in and the characters were so multidimensional. I love how the same event is many times written about from the perspective of several characters, who of course look at the event very differently.I've read this book many times since I first read it as a way to help get through my exams as a college freshman, when I used it as a reward (if you learn two chapters of microeconomics well enough to do well if anything from those chapters shows up on the exam, you can read two chapters of Wheel of Fortune). When exams were finally over I finished the whole book.Since then I haven't re-read the whole book start to finish. Its the kind of book you can pick up and read in any section, and enjoy it and be able to follow the story, although that might not be true unless you've read it start to finish at least once.My favorite section of the book is where John is having baby after baby with his true love, Bronwen, who he wanted to marry before he became bogged down in the English class system of the time. He marries the daughter of his boss...a suitable choice as far as the system goes and tries to convince them both that they are happy...until he reunites with Bronwen. That whole section and how it affects virtually all the characters, fascinates me.Also interesting is how an event that most of the characters are too young to have first hand knowledge of shadows over almost all, to varying degrees. I'm talking about the affair between Bobby's mother and the Oxmoon groundskeeper and the possibility that she, or they, caused the death or murder of her husband.This book is written so well, I found the story of each character interesting, and some riveting. This book is a must read.

  • Laura
    2019-06-03 11:00

    This book is a family saga on the Godwin's family told over a period of fifty years in their Welsh estate, Oxmoon. I must agree with Misfit, this book is without any doubt the best book written by Susan Howatch, even if I did loved Cashelmara and Penmarric. The parallel with the real historical characters is fabulous. As in any book by SH, is hard to tell which is my favorite character but I'm still divided between Kester and Hal.

  • Cherie
    2019-06-03 10:17

    This is definitely my all-time favorite book. It has everything I like, multi-generations, historical parallels, a story told from the viewpoint of many intriguing characters. It's a long book, but it caught my interest from the beginning, and I have gone back and read it two or three times again. I have loved all of Susan Howatch's family sagas, but this one is the best!

  • Kate Quinn
    2019-06-20 08:14

    Susan Howatch writes this multi-generational book with a very deliberate gimmick, and yet it's such a clever one that I loved every minute of it. The novel is enjoyable enough on its own merits as the story of several generations of an English family, told in succession by a tortured adrenaline junkie, his flamboyant wife, his repressed younger brother, his artistic son, his ambitious nephew, and finally a grand-nephew determined to raise the family status again to glory. But what if you know your English history, and figure out that this is really the re-told story of the Black Prince of Wales, his wife Joan of Kent, his brother John of Gaunt, the deposed Richard II, the usurper Henry IV, and the triumphant Henry V? Point for point, medieval history is transposed cleverly into the 20th century. A great many painful moments wrap around this family, but in the end they will triumph - just as Henry V triumphed at Agincourt.

  • Jeanne
    2019-06-05 08:56

    This huge, dramatic, glorious, complex family saga reeled me in page by page (ok, screen by screen...I confess). Each lengthy chapter is told from a different character's point of view, so the reader gets both intimate insights into each complex personality as well as a more balanced perspective. It can be a challenge to keep it all straight, but the drama continues at a fast pace so I never got bored. There were times when the overuse of "doing the done thing" and "drawing the line" got on my nerves, but that motif is central to the story. The author develops several other themes through the generations of characters as we see the effects of jealousy, lust, obsession, and madness (and the fear of it). The spinning wheel of fortune ensures that no one remains on top forever. It was impossible to love or even like the narrators, but I could develop sympathy for them. The final theme is redemption and that always satisfies my soul.

  • Sara
    2019-06-18 07:57

    Don't let the slow start put you off, this book plunges into a complex and complicated family and morphs into a book that can't be put down. Knowing it is based on actual royalty and the line of the Black Prince makes it all the more fascinating. There isn't a two dimensional character in the book, including those who have minor roles. I cannot believe Horwatch escaped my attention or so long, but I am looking forward to reading her entire canon of work.

  • Melissa
    2019-05-30 14:09

    4.5 Stars. Wheel of fortune is a modern telling of the lives of the Plantagenets: Edward The Black Prince through Henry V, taking place between 1913 and the 1970's. While the book itself is quite hefty at almost 1200 pages, it was very quick read; mostly because I had to force myself to put it down. I have to say that Harry was my favorite character even though nothing ever really seemed to work out for him. The book is separated into six different parts each reading like a diary entry in the 1st person. I loved seeing the different characters from so many different view points. What made the book the most interesting was how the author gave each character their own voice, even the ones who weren't the six major characters all had their own distinct personalities. I would definitely put The Wheel of Fortune on par with any of the best Historical Fiction I've ever read, and I would compare it with Penman's Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine Trilogy, which I loved.

  • Caroline
    2019-06-16 13:12

    This is a sprawling family saga, following a Welsh family from the Gower Peninsua from the late 19th century through to the 1970s. It's also a retelling of the history of the Plantagenets - Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V. It's very well-written, and it's quite an interesting experience, reading a modern retelling of history. You know what will happen, sort of - which characters will die, which will be murdered, but not the circumstances or the context. And it's about how every action has effects which can linger on in time - the actions of Bobby's (Edward III) mother and lover in the 19th century linger on to affect Bobby's sons, Robert (the Black Prince) and John (John of Gaunt), Robert's son Kester (Richard II) and John's son Harry (Henry IV) and eventually Harry's son Hal (Henry V) in the 1970s. A very good book.

  • Lori
    2019-06-22 08:57

    This massive book by Susan Howatch retells the story of Edward III of England's dynasty in a 20th century setting told in five first person narratives through the century. I absolutely loved this book and thought it was brilliantly done through John's story, but it began to weaken in its appeal through the final third of the book -- Henry and Hal's stories. However, the strength of the beginning far outweighed the weakness of the resolution for me. Note: Read this book after reading Anya Seton's Katherine to fully appreciate the John's story.

  • Nontobeko Lamula
    2019-06-20 12:58

    This is my favourate book of all time. I loved the style of writing, the drama, everything! I read this book when i was still in university (10 years ago!) and i own a copy that has seen better days. i still cannot resist reading it once in a while; it's the only book i've re-read over and over

  • Jemidar
    2019-05-27 13:56

    My copy is quite literally a brick with 977 pages and tiny, microscopic font. Eye strain here I come!!

  • Tara
    2019-06-13 10:56

    This was a long and tedious slog, and the last 5th was actually painful. Not recommended for anyone.

  • Drush76
    2019-06-06 06:57

    Several years ago, I once posted a list of my top ten favorite historical fiction novels of all time. Susan Howatch's 1984 novel, "THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE" made the list. In fact, I would go as far to say that it would have also made the list of my top favorite novels . . . period. I love it that much. Back in the 1970s, Howatch wrote several family sagas in which the main characters were based upon members from a certain group from Britain's Royal Family known as House of Plantagenet, which ruled the country between 1154 and 1485. The characters from 1971's "PENMARRIC" were based upon the Plantagenet line that began with King Henry II and ended with King John. 1974's "CASHELMARA" featured characters based the line that began with Edward I and ended with his grandson, Edward III. "THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE" also featured a character based upon Edward III, but he turned out to be a supporting one. The novel's main characters were based on his children, two of his grandsons and a great-grandson, starting with Edward, the Black Prince and ending with Henry V. "THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE" followed the fortunes of the Godwins, an Anglo-Welsh upper-class family that lived on an estate called Oxmoon, located near Gower in South Wales. The novel is divided into six major chapters, narrated by the following:*Robert Godwin - oldest son in the family and a successful barrister who becomes a Member of Parliament*Ginevra "Ginette" Godwin - Robert's wife, distant cousin and childhood obsession, who was previously married to an Irishman named Conor Kinsella*John Godwin - third son in the family and a diplomat with the Foreign Office*Christopher "Kester" Godwin - Robert and Ginerva's second son, who becomes master of Oxmoon upon his grandfather's death*Henry "Harry" Godwin - John's oldest living son and Kester's rival*Henry "Hal" Godwin - Harry's oldest son and a musician"THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE" spanned at least fifty to sixty years - from 1913 to the late 1960s or early 1970s, covering at least four generations and two world wars. Although the novel is told from the point of view of six major characters, it also featured other never-to-be-forgotten characters from the Godwin family. The ones that really come to mind are Robert and John's complicated parents - the emotionally unstable Bobby and his very disciplined wife Margaret; Declan Kinsella, Ginette's oldest son from her first marriage; Bronwen Morgan, John's mistress and third wife; Robert and John's youngest brother, the somewhat coarse and unimaginative Thomas Godwin; and Harry's first wife, the sexy and not-so-bright Belinda "Bella" Stourham Godwin, who becomes obsessed with conceiving a girl after an aborted teenage pregnancy.What I found amazing about "THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE" is that it more or less continued the de Salis family saga from "CASHELMARA", but with different characters. A family scandal involving Bobby's mother and a sheep farmer named Owen Bryn-Davies ends up having a major impact upon the Godwin family. Both Bobby and Margaret spend most of their married lives trying to overcome the past with an ideal family life, living up to the twin creeds - "doing the done thing" and "drawing the line". Unfortunately, Bobby's ability to project an ideal image also leads him to become an emotional time bomb, with a penchant for womanizing. This penchant also leads to another family scandal - one that not only has an impact on Robert and Ginette's relationship, but also on the question of Oxmoon's true master, which culminates into an ugly rivalry between cousins Kester and Harry.It is a skill to Ms. Howatch's talents that I found the novel's first two chapters fascinating. She did an excellent job in creating the novel's setting and characters, and delving into the fascinating, yet problematic marriage between Robert and Ginette. But the chapters featuring John, Kester and Harry's narrations prove to be the novel's highlights. Howatch allows the readers to see how Bobby and Margaret's efforts to maintain an ideal family fractured John's personality - almost transforming him into some kind of Jekyll-and-Hyde. The ironic thing is that his "Hyde" persona proved to be a lot more beneficial for him. But John's fractured personality, along with his twisted efforts to live up to his parents' (actually, I should say his mother's) creeds of "doing the done thing" and "drawing the line" seemed to have a negative impact on both his son Harry and nephew Kester.The last chapter, which featured Hal's narration, proved to be less fascinating than the previous chapters. This particular chapter featured a murder mystery within the family and Hal's efforts to revive the family fortunes. Mind you, this story line did not strike me as compelling as the previous chapters, but I had no problems with it. But I did have a problem with two aspects of the novel. One, Howatch had an annoying habit of labeling certain characters via their nationalities. Celtics - especially the Welsh and the Irish - seemed to be described as emotional or almost fey. And the English are described as emotionally stunted, yet rational and clear-minded. I found this penchant rather infantile for a first-rate novelist like Howatch. Nor did I care for some the dialogue she had Bronwen's mouth. It almost seemed as if Howatch tried to transform John's Welsh mistress (later third wife) as some kind of Celtic mystic. And I really found it annoying. It is a miracle that Bronwen managed to remain one of my favorite characters.Although I can honestly say that "THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE" is not perfect, I can also state that it is also one of my favorite novels of all time. In fact, I became so fascinated with it after my last reading that I found myself re-reading some of of the passages over and over again, until I realized that I need to put it down. It really is one of the best family sagas I have ever read . . . period. And I am amazed that there has been no television adaptation of this novel. A movie adaptation would be out of the question. The time constraints on the latter would make an adaptation out of the question. But as a television adaptation . . . "THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE" could prove to be as exceptional as the novel itself.

  • Ivy Smith
    2019-06-10 10:04

    The Wheel of Fortune is a book I'll never forget reading. It fell into my lap by sheer and complete coincidence- a tatty, thousand page horror obtained second hand from the old collection of an aunt who had obtained it second hand herself. Ancient. To this day, I have no idea why I even started reading it- it seemed too long, too heavy, too boring. Oh how wrong I was. I read it- all 1149 pages of it- in two days, two days of doing literally nothing else save for the occasional fridge raid, bathroom break and disjointed naps. It was that good. Not perfect, mind you, despite my five star rating (no thousand page book can be consistently excellent), but a bloody good book nonetheless. The variety of characters and times is dizzying. Beginning as the nineteenth century draws to a close and ending in the late 1970s, the book chronicles- among many other things- two world wars and the changing social and political views of the times. The story is narrated in by six different characters, with each's narrative beginning where the one before's ends.One of the many things I love about TWOF is how none of the characters just vanish after their respective narratives. They live on and develop in the narratives of others, but now since we're looking at them through the perspective of another, they, and their actions are presented completely different. There is a fascinating difference between the characters' accounts of themselves and the way they are seen by those closest to them.The magic of this book is in its characters. It is the definition of a dysfunctional family, generations woven tightly together in a complex mix of love, jealousy and hate- supporting, influencing and ruining each other. All six main characters are compelling, with distinctive voices and personalities. And of course, there is also Oxmoon, the mythical family home everyone lusts after, a house that binds, consumes and corrupts them. First is Robert; eldest son and golden boy of the family, a successful lawyer and budding politician. But beneath this veneer of perfection is a man driven by delusions and obsessions- an obsession with death, with winning, with the beautiful childhood friend he loved and lost. He is immensely unlikable- abusive, violent, sexist and often cruel and unfeeling. I hated him. But I was also fascinated by him, his tortured psyche and ultimately tragic fate. Secondly, Ginevra, said childhood friend. Okay, first let me take a moment to say how much and how deeply I adored Ginevra. She is the only female narrator in the entire novel, and more's the pity because hers was the most delightful and entertaining part of the entire book. She's ditzy and passionate and flamboyant and utterly unorthodox, behaving exactly like a victorian woman wasn't supposed to. I love how she is properly fleshed out, slowly turning from unrealistic object of Robert's fantasies to normal woman- slightly silly, willful, human- with normal problems. She's an odd mix of the patriarchy of her times- flummoxed by suffragettes and lesbians- and strength- facing sorrow, death and sexual abuse and overcoming them. Her chapters made me laugh out loud almost as much as they made me cry.( Also, don't even get me started on the toxic wonder that is her love-hate relationship with Robert.)Thirdly: John. Johnny, oh Johnny oh Johnny. Remember what I said about the characters influencing and ruining each other? Yeah, this is that. John, Robert's younger brother has constantly been in his shadow, always second best, envying, admiring and trying desperately to be like his more talented and (in his eyes) perfect older brother. He has lived a perfect but meaningless life, had a pleasant but hollow marriage, never realizing that his entire existence has been an elaborate act. Then, he falls madly in love with a 'magic' lady- a common woman of low birth- and everything falls apart. Its beautiful and horrible and heartbreaking all at once- the tragic story of a man trying to choose between what is right and what makes him happy. The next two chapters are by Robert's and John's sons, and boy, does that sibling rivalry leak over to the next generation. Here Susan Howatch delves into the creepy concept of dopplegangers, two people who seem to be two halves of one whole- one having exactly what the other lacks, or wants desperately. Two people, if not for various external reasons, would have lived identical lives. It is a genuinely macabre relationship with supernatural undertones that raises more questions than it answers. I'm not going to go into further details about this, but it is a definite must-read that left me shaken.And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Littered across the book are supporting characters and subplots galore, all equally fascinating, diverse and enriching the plot even more. Despite this, it never feels overstuffed. This, as I mentioned is a book that covers different eras in history and supporting characters from a variety of backgrounds help bring these periods to life. Furthermore, it is a clever book. Complex. It is not just about the wheel of fortune, but also of time. Certain recurring symbols demonstrate the cyclical nature of time, with history repeating itself, the actions of those long gone influencing the actions of those present. It is also highly emotional. There is a strong sense of nostalgia, a fierce longing for lost glory days that weren't really that glorious after all, an idealization of the past, an idealization of imperfect characters, love and hope and loss, hypocrisy, moral complexity, the blurred lines between good and evil, and family. Family most of all. Now, let's return to that not-perfect comment. Despite its length, the book only began to drag during the last bit, where it becomes a halfhearted murder mystery, which, though eerie and a refreshing change from the earlier tone of the novel seemed rather poorly executed. It was, however, very readable and didn't noticeably affect my love for the book as a whole.All in all, phenomenal book, huge and exhaustive in all the best ways possible. Love it, would recommend it to anyone interested in sprawling family sagas.

  • Marilyn
    2019-06-13 14:08

    A difficult book. On the one hand, very well written, sometimes extremely funny, and lots of twists and turns to the inevitable who-dun-it. On the other hand, extremely long, extremely redundant, and too much melodrama. A nice windup at the end leads back to the very beginning, but it's contrived. The most interesting, and perspicacious, character, is a psychiatrist! These people, with just a few exceptions (like Bronwen) are just too neurotic to sustain interest.

  • J. Joan
    2019-05-31 09:21

    I have to admit, I could not have expected how much I ended up enjoying this book. I managed to blast through this ~1200 page tome with ease, always wishing I had the mental power to read faster than I could. Howatch's writing exhibits some real talents. Firstly, without being able to fact-check or verify, it seems the author really knows her stuff: this multi-generational family saga begins in the late 19th century and spans all the way to the 1960s, and yet Howatch effortlessly weaves in lots of details demonstrating the time period we are in, whether it be mention of popular pasttimes (books, music, automobiles, fashions) or use of language.Secondly, Howatch really gets you inside the character's heads, and you do get a strong sense of each and every very different character. How she can juggle so many different individuals at such depth is amazing.Finally, the story is complex, and Howatch is able to get you thinking about some interesting life dilemmas. Overall, an excellent read, especially if you are looking for something to just suck you in and take you away from the rest of the world for a while.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-29 13:04

    Used to camp on the Gower Peninsular in a beautiful bay called Port Eynon. The bay just before you reached this, back towards Swansea, was called Oxmore, well, Oxmore something, and I'll check it up when back on the Big Girl Computer.Anyway, this bay was particularly popular with surfing crowd because of the rather treacherous currents and cross currents - perfect for a game of wet suited chicken with added ironingboard. There was a big house back inland from this stretch of shingled shore and it is there that my mind's eye will picture when I get around to this..

  • Linda Gillard
    2019-06-06 12:20

    The best book I read in 2009 and a new author for me. A long read (1100pp)but engrossing. It struck me as being something like a much longer version of my own novel A LIFETIME BURNING! Certainly anyone who enjoyed ALB would probably enjoy WHEEL OF FORTUNE. I've started collecting Howatch's Starbridge series and I'm looking forward to those. Wheel of Fortune

  • Stephanie
    2019-06-27 09:57

    I enjoy family sagas. Particularly those written with the history spent over generations on a homestead similar to Oxmoon. The experiences of the 3 sons, each in their own way desiring to be heir was strange but fascinating. It just proves that life isnt a complete bed of roses....for anyone.The Wheel of Fortune was well worth the read.

  • Racheal
    2019-06-19 09:06

    My favourite book by Susan. On the first read, I immediately re-read.All of Susan's books are worth a read, but some struggle with her splendid Church of England series. Start with this book ... or Penmarric, or Cahelmara, or the Rich are Different. These are the books I turn back-towards when nothing else appeals.

  • Colette Fehr
    2019-06-11 12:08

    I loved loved loved this book! I only wish there was something else I could read now that I could lose myself in the way I did here.

  • Randi
    2019-06-05 07:04

    This is a book you can sink yourself in. Story of a family with all drama you can think of. Takes awhile to read but so worth it. Howatch is a master of prose.

  • Jamie Brenner
    2019-06-17 08:56

    Gorgeous book. Brilliant, complex, imaginative.She is a master.And I named my oldest daughter after the heroine.