Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Audio Book Review: Cashelmara by Susan Howatch

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction/Audio Book
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Pub. Date: May 5, 2020
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."

Edward, a wealthy British aristocrat, visits the United States in the 19th century.  While there he meets his deceased wife's cousin, Marguerite.  He is completely smitten.  Even though he is much older than her, sparks fly and they have plans to marry.  He hopes to take her back to their family land in Ireland, Cashlemara, and as the years go by they live happily. The story follows this family though the years, but it's not always happy times.  Edward's son, Patrick, is a bit of a problem. He is unable to be the man that his father always wanted him to be; in fact, he can't even stay away at boarding school and continues to run away.  As the years go by, he assumes the title after his father's death and he marries, Sarah, an American.  However, Patrick is harboring a dark secret that will tear apart his family.  Cashelmara is an epic family saga that spans many years and uncovers many family secrets.  

Each section of Cashelmara is narrated by a different member of the family and includes titles like duty, passion, etc.  It's an interesting technique to get different perspectives as well as to get to know the different members of the family.  The audio book's narrators are able to provide different voices for each of the sections and I thought it was well done.  

I adored the setting of Cashelmara, which takes place in Ireland. Howatch did a great job bringing Ireland to life as well as the history of the country.  It's not always rainbows and beautiful landscapes: there's famine, violence, and upheaval.  Howatch covered this very well while also providing a memorable and beautiful setting in rural Ireland.  

I found Sarah's story to be the most interesting, especially when it came to Patrick's secret and the ominous character of MacGowan, who is the agent at Cashelmara.  The story includes not only romance, but also murder, plotting, scandals, dark secrets, family drama, and more.  I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of times that I was on the edge of my seat listening to Cashelmara

If you like family sagas that span generations and are looking for a lengthy audio book, look no further.  This was the perfect escape that I needed during quarantine and something to get my mind off things. I couldn't wait to return to Cashelmara and see what was going to happen to the family next.  Also, Howatch loosely bases Cashelmara on the Plantagenets and the story of the three Edwards, which I thought was an interesting tie-in.

Do you enjoy epic family sagas? What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below. 


  1. I really enjoy stories like this, and the setting sounds amazing!

    1. It was the perfect audio escape! Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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