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Penhallow by Georgette Heyer
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Penhallow (1942)

by Georgette Heyer

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» See also 54 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Ugh. I think Heyer got challenged (or challenged herself) to write a "literary" novel - and succeeded. I kept waiting for the descriptions of the rather foul lot of people to turn into either a romance or a murder mystery - though the only mystery would have been who got killed. It did, sort of, but as we get to see the murder being done there's no mystery to it. It is, from beginning to end, people attacking each other, acting foul towards one another, anything from being snarky to torrents of verbal and physical abuse. I'm sorry, a little, for Vivian, and a little less for Faith (because she's so utterly soppy). Clay is as wet as his father thinks he is. The rest of the boys are various forms of idiots - from too lazy to move on his own to "merely" utterly insensitive to anyone around them. Penhallow is awful. So why am I supposed to be interested in this? I repeat, UGH. I need to read something light before I attempt another Heyer - and I mostly enjoy Heyers. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Dec 27, 2017 |
This is neither a 'whodunit' nor a mystery, because we know who did it and why...

To his family, Cornish landowner Adam Penhallow is by turns despotic and indulgent, but his grownup children from his first wife require a firm hand. By comparison, Adam's second wife, Faith, is a mouse and their son, Clay, far too sensitive to cope in the harsh environment that exists within Trevellin, the family seat.
When Clay fails to reach his father's expectations at Cambridge he is summoned home. Faith, cowed after 20 years of marriage, and mindful of her son's peace of mind, poisons her now ailing husband, unaware that there might be repercussions among the rest of the family.

A well told story of an unusual household; good character development; dated in feel, but then, it was first published in 1942! ( )
  Sergeirocks | Jun 15, 2016 |
I didn't really enjoy this book. Very unusual for Georgette Heyer. I found the early part too long-winded and descriptive, and although the characters were good - once I'd figured out who was whom - I found the storyline rather disturbing.

The murder doesn't take place until over half-way through the book, and then it's written in an unusual way, with the reader shown exactly what happens. I kept thinking there would be some twist - perhaps along the lines of Agatha Christie's classic 'Orient Express', but was disappointed.

The final paragraph in the book has the police inspector remarking that it was a very unsatisfactory case... and I would agree. Very strange, and rather disturbing.
( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
This is an unusual book. Instead of the crime happening at the beginning, it takes place mid way and you know who did it. The police also don't solve the crime at the end. they know that what they have got as a solution is wrong, what they don't have is the missing pieces to show how and where it is wrong.
The Penhallow of the title is Adam Penhallow, master of Trevelin. He is a tyrant and rules his family with an iron will, a nasty temper and a mean streak. A number of them live at home, and for his birthday he gradually draws them all closer. They are a mixed bag, some of the more likeable than others. Over the course of the book the family history is described and some startling news changes how some of them view themselves and the others.
I thought it quite inventive and well put together. The characters were all well drawn (if not all well balanced!) and they all interact in a believable way. It ends in a nicely ambiguous way, with things not seeming to turn out the way that had been imagined with the old man removed. ( )
  Helenliz | Dec 20, 2015 |
Substance: This is really a dramatic novel with a bit of humor and romance, rather than a Mystery or a Romance per se. The narrative explores the dislocations and psychological upheavals for people living through the social changes after WW1, where servants (and families) experience the breaking of ranks and bonds of the past structure; some fight the dissolution and some embrace it, within the same household.

Style: The subject and mood are darker than usual for Heyer, more in keeping with her historical dramas than with her romance/mystery works (more like Dumaurier than Wodehouse). There is more repetition and extraneous baggage than is needed, but the story "plays fair" to the characters. ( )
  librisissimo | Nov 4, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Georgette Heyerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Herrera, Ulla H. deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marchant, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Jimmy the Bastard was cleaning boots, in a stone-paved room at the back of the house which commanded, through its chamfered windows, a view of the flagged yard, of a huddle of outhouses, and a glimpse, caught between the wing of the manor and the woodshed, of one of the paddocks where Raymond had some of his young stock out to grass.
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Old patriarch, Adam Penhallow, yet ruling his family and his Cornish roost with an iron hand from his sickbed. The death of menacing old man, on the eve of his birthday, seems at first to be by natural causes. He was elderly after all. But Penhallow wasn't well liked. Tyrannical Penhallow had ruled over his estate with an iron will and sharp tongue, playing one relative against another. He was so bad tempered and mean that both servants and kin cause to hate him for his cruel and vicious nature.

It soon transpires that far from being a peaceful death, Penhallow was, in fact, murdered, poisoned. And there are more than a dozen prime suspects. With his entire family had assembled for his birthday celebration, and servants that both feared and despised him, there are more than a dozen prime suspects. Every one of them had the ways and means to commit the crime. But which one of them turned hatred into murder? As accusation and suspicion turn in one direction, then another, the claws and backstabbing come out, and no one is exempt from the coming implosion.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099493683, Paperback)

Adam Penhallow’s death seems, at first, to be by natural causes. But Penhallow wasn’t well liked — so bad tempered, that both his servants and his family hated him. It soon transpires that Penhallow was murdered, poisoned, in fact, on the eve of his birthday celebration, and there are more than a dozen prime suspects.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The murder of tyrannical family patriarch Adam Penhallow leads to suspicion, accusations, and backstabbing among his family.

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