Cashelmara Author:Susan Howatch The new novel by the author of Penmarric... — Cashelmara--at once beautiful and frightning--is the great house that dominates the Irish estates of the de Salis family, obsessing them from generation to generation, dominating their lives and fortunes, irresistibly drawing them away from the quiet and settled world of mid-Victorian English aristocr... more »acy into the violence, passion and danger of Ireland. For Edward, a stern and vigorous widower, Cashelmara is merely a perplexing responsibility, the most troublesome and least profitable portion of his lands, a quiet backwater to which he can bring the young American women who has become the wife of his old age, and where he can shelve the insoluble problem of his restless, charming and turbulent son Patrick's future. Ruling Cashelmara as he does his family, with an iron grip and a sense of justice, Edward imposes order on a tenantry that is at once impoverished and embittered, hostile yet respectful to the great Lord de Salis....
For Patrick, Cashelmara is a symbol of his freedom, of childhood days away from Edward's stern paternal hand. Weak where his father was strong, generous and self-indulgent to an uncontrollable degree, given to passionate friendships and unshakable through misplaced loyalties, Patrick, too, brings a young American wife to Chashelmara.
But it is a very different house from his father's, for he has allowed his friends-first the ambitious and amiable Rodrick Stranaham, then the sinister and unscrupulous Hugh MacGowan--to dominate his life and manage his lands; he has plunged himself hopelessly into debt until Cashelmara, once merely one of the many de Salis possesions, is his one remaining asset and his only home. To it he brings Sara, young spoiled and shallow, who fears and hates this barren, wild country and it's turbulent inhabitants; and it is there that she learns the real nature of her husband's infatuation with MacGowen, suffers through the bitter reality of their impoverishment, and in a moment of savage violence, comes to realize just how strong and how sensual a person she really is.
As Patrick's drama is played out, the de Salises are no longer a great English family with Irish lands. but an Irish family, sharing now the terrible fate of Ireland in the late nineteenth century, caught up in the irreconcilable blood feuds of their Irish tenents, involved in the endless killing and violence. It is Sarah--driven by hatred of her husband at first, then by her love for Max Drummond, a terrorist whose genial and reckless charm conceals very personal and unscrupulous ambitions--who brings the murderous cruelty of the world outside into the very heart of the de Salis family, scheming ruthlessly to secure Cashelmara for her lover-- and for her son Ned. And it is at Cashelmara, under those "great bare mountains," that young Ned, brought up in an atmosphere of betrayal and hatred, torm between the demands of his mother and the memory of his father, embittered by the declining fortunes of the de Salis family, makes Cashelmara his own with an act of violence and vengeance that makes the beginning of his greatness as a man.
Cashelmara is a magnificent epic novel, so powerful and convincing that it is impossible to put down, so huge in its scope and cast of characters that it forms--like all great novels--a world in itself, more real than our own. In the tragic and complex lives of the de Salis family, Susan Howatch has created a story that exceeds the expectations of everyone who read and loved Penmarric.« less