Thu
Jul 10 2014 7:29am

Throwback Thursday: Family Sagas?

Penmarric by Susan Howatch

Back in the '70s, romance novels were disguised as family sagas, spanning generations, and following multiple couples through to an eventual HEA.

Colleen McCulloch's Thorn Birds, Belva Plain's Evergreen, Barbara Taylor Bradford's Emma Harte series, Susan Howatch's books—if you wanted a thick book rife with description of historical places and passionate men and women, there were plenty of books from which to choose.

Did you read any of these family sagas? Which were your favorites? And have you ever gone back for a reread?

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8 comments
Katy Cooper
1. katy.madellio
Penmarric! I read that for the first time when I was 13 and I adored it. I've read all of Howatch's based-on-history books at least once. My favorite might possibly be Sins of the Fathers. (It took me forever to realize that it and The Rich Are Different are based on Julius and Augustus Caesar.) I haven't re-read any of them in ages, but I'm thinking now might be the time...
Carmen Pinzon
2. bungluna
I used to devour these book when I was a teen, but somewhere along the way I decided I wanted a narrower slice-of-life story. I got frustrated with all the reversals and travails that the heroines had to suffer before their HEA could happen, always later in life and always dependant on no more books coming out requiring more travails!

I tried re-reading Taylor Bradford "A Woman of Substance" and couldn't quite get into it as much as I did the first time around.
M. Jean Gardiner
3. M. Jean Gardiner
The Thorn Birds! But oddly I never watched the miniseries. I still remember the scene of the women working in the kitchen with just their under clothes because it was so hot and all the men were gone. I read another of hers too, but I haven't haven't gone back to re read them. Publishers keep saying people don't want to read those long family sagas anymore.
Jamie Brenner
4. jamieloganbrenner
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Penmarric! One of my all-time favs. But the ultimate, most brilliant family saga is The Wheel of Fortune, also by Susan Howatch (I named my daughter after one of the characters). I've read both Penmarric and TWOF multiple times. I miss these family sagas, and wish they hadn't fallen out of favor.
M. Jean Gardiner
5. Barb in Maryland
My all time favorite saga comes from an earlier era: Elswyth Thane's Williamsburg books. They follow one family's women from the American Revolution, through the Civil War and into the twentieth century. Gobbled them up! I deliberately went to Williamsburg, VA the first time because of these books.
From the late '80s I read and re-read the three Swan books by Celeste de Blassis. Absolutely first rate historical romance/family saga. The first book Starts in England, the second and third are based in Maryland.
M. Jean Gardiner
6. KateNagy
Wheel of Fortune is simply the best. "I might walk out on a marriage, but I would never turn my back on a friend." My theory is that Howatch turned away from family sagas and started writing church-based thrillers because she knew she could never surpass WoF. Penmarric is also excellent -- and interesting, with its relatively sympathetic (for the time it was written) portrayal of the gay golden boy.
Kareni
7. Kareni
I'm another who read The Thorn Birds as well as the author's Tim which was an interesting read in that the male lead was developmentally impaired and the heroine was older. I think I'd be scared to reread either!
Michelle Guthrie
8. Michelle99
As well as the Thorn Birds, I loved the Wild Swan trilogy by Celeste DeBlasis. As a teen, I read it multiple times and loved the multigenerational love stories! I wouldn't want to re-read the books, though, as I find things are rarely as good as our childhood memories. (Except Fun Dip candy - that stuff is still awesome!)
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