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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars By far the darkest Heyer I've read
**Quick edit to warn you that another of the reviews (by Elizabeth Trigg) contains a significant plot spoiler - do not read it if you haven't read the book!!**

I've been gorging myself on Georgette Heyers for the last few months, having only discovered her last year. Penhallow is the book I've struggled with the most, having made two abortive attempts to read...
Published on 9 July 2008 by Mrs Norris

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing from one of my all time favourite authors
A strange book - the first of her detective stories I've read - I was disappointed as I had expected it to be as engaging as her historical fiction. I think the main problem I had with it was that I could not empathise with any of the characters and the story ended a bit mid air.
Published 9 months ago by Whitelight


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars By far the darkest Heyer I've read, 9 July 2008
This review is from: Penhallow (Paperback)
**Quick edit to warn you that another of the reviews (by Elizabeth Trigg) contains a significant plot spoiler - do not read it if you haven't read the book!!**

I've been gorging myself on Georgette Heyers for the last few months, having only discovered her last year. Penhallow is the book I've struggled with the most, having made two abortive attempts to read it before finally making it to the end.

It is definitely the darkest one I've read to date; as a previous reviewer noted, most of the characters are pretty unattractive, though I think they are among the most complex and believable of the characters she has created. Adam Penhallow is a monster, and yet even he shows a human side on occasion that almost (but not quite) gives you sympathy for him.

It is a remarkable portrayal of the sort of manipulation and oppression that can go on in families, particularly where money is used as a hold over people - you really sense the claustrophobia felt by those family members who want to escape, but can't - and although I'm not sure I would pick it up again, it was definitely worth reading.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong family drama, 18 Oct. 2010
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Penhallow (Kindle Edition)
This is a psychological murder story rather than a who done it and if it wasn't for the period details it could easily have been written in the twenty first century. Adam Penhallow rules his home and his family with a rod of iron. He is a distinctly unlikeable character but all too real. The author paints a claustrophobic picture of life at Penhallow, an estate in Cornwall where everyone in the house must gather in the bedridden master's room in the evening. Arguments are always flavour of the day and anyone not able to hold their own is very soon reduced to the brink of a nervous breakdown. Incomers - Adam's second wife Faith and third son Eugene's wife Vivian - find it difficult to cope.

There are resentments by the score and when murder is finally committed the police have more suspects and motives than they can shake a stick at. I thought the writing was excellent and the characters are so vibrant they practically jump off the page. The strong and wilful Penhallow sons - hard living and hard working - dominate the book. But to provide the counter balance there is hypochondriac Eugene and effeminate Aubrey with his sharp tongue; Charmian - the only daughter- is more than capable of standing up to her father when he criticises her life with another woman as she is not dependent on him for money. Adam Penhallow controls those for whom he holds the purse strings and it seems no one will escape until he dies.

I really enjoyed this book even though it was not quite what I was expecting. It is really a book which stands alone because it examines the dynamics within a family of mainly strong willed people. It shows how such families can devour people who are not like them and make life intolerable for people of weaker character.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy Families, 3 Oct. 2011
By 
Poldy "Paul" (Darwen, Lancashire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Penhallow (Paperback)
Adam Penhallow rules over the Penhallow family with a rod of iron, bending everyone to his tyrannous will. His sons, both legitimate and illegitimate, his second wife, even the servants and many of the locals, hate him with a passion, which means there are no shortage of suspects when his death, at first thought to be down to natural causes, is revealed to be murder.

Heyer was masterful at presenting well-drawn, believable characters. Here she gives us an extended family ruled over by a very human monster, one who revels in the misery he can bring to those nearest him. Although the story is set after the First World War, there is little sense of the burgeoning modern world, the characters seemingly trapped in a nineteenth-century world where the lord of the manor rules all and his word is law. The book positively drips with an almost gothic sense of gloom, recalling such novels as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Heyer draws the reader into the story by showing each character's thought and attitudes, allowing us to see the all-pervading influence of the old man and how his behaviour affects theirs and, in most cases, has blighted their lives. Although the murder doesn't happen until more than 270 pages have passed, the story is never allowed to drag. Rather, we are presented with a fully-realised world in which every character, every action, every word, rings true. Unusually for a Heyer mystery, we actually see the murder being committed as one person, driven beyond the limits of endurance, finally cracks under the weight of the constant mistreatment. This marks out the novel as more a psychological study of character than a traditional whodunit, and Heyer herself said that, although her publisher had marketed the book as a mystery, it really wasn't one. As such, Penhallow has more in common with her historical novels than with her mysteries. Penhallow is an absorbing read, one of Heyer's longest books, and one of her best.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Darker than her other mysteries, 1 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Penhallow (Paperback)
Penhallow is very different from Georgette Heyer's other mysteries, and much darker. The other novels are mostly peopled by a range of quirky or funny characters, and a love story is woven into the mystery, making them a light and entertaining read. In Penhallow, which isn't a really mystery at all, very little emphasis is placed on detection, and in fact the police never figure out who did it. It is set in a country house occupied by a number of unhappy people. In any other mystery you would expect to find the victim stretched out on the carpet within a very short space of time. But this story is about exploring in more depth how a damaged family and servants are driven to a pitch of desperation, which ends eventually in a murder. Most of the other characters are unappealing, but they are believable, and you do pity them. You won't be surprised to hear that there is no happy ending. If you wanted to curl up on the sofa with a light Heyer mystery, then you won't like this one - try Heyer's "Detection Unlimited". This story isn't dreary - it does have some lively dialogue, and is an impressive piece of writing. But light and frothy it isn't.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psychological insights into the Narcissist lead family, 3 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Penhallow (Paperback)
Reading this straight after Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy one can appreciate the depth of understanding of the Narcissist character that Heyer conveys. Both authors give the father figure to their principal characters this unpleasant personality (disorder). The fact that it is not so uncommon - especially when money and inheritance is involved should not really be a surprise. What is amazing about Heyer's book is that it is as fresh as if it were only written yesterday. If it weren't for the occassional period references that place the story squarely at the early part of the 20th century, it could easily be a contemporary novel. It is dark - but not as gruesome as Larsson. It stands alone in Heyer's oeuvre and should really be taken as such. It is not a serial you'd want to consume too often. Adam Penhallow is a nasty, manipulative individual. But then, is there such a thing as a 'nice' manipulative person? - Heyer shows you there isn't.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great family story but not a 'who dun it', 4 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Penhallow (Paperback)
I bought this because I having read several of Heyer's crime novels I assumed it was a 'whodunit'. However, the death occurs just before the end and the reader knows exactly who did it and why. So this was basically a family story and an exploration of why ultimately murder can be committed. The characters are vibrant and well drawn, brilliant descriptions so it is a good read but is not the usual crime novel and not a murder mystery.
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4.0 out of 5 stars heyer fan, 21 April 2013
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This review is from: Penhallow (Paperback)
this is a fairly typical georgette heyer murder mystery with a lot of people who could have 'dunnit' - all of whom had good reasons for committing murder and not very good alibis - i enjoyed reading it a second time as i then knew the relationships of the suspects to one another - i enjoyed the twist in the tail!!!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing from one of my all time favourite authors, 12 Aug. 2014
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A strange book - the first of her detective stories I've read - I was disappointed as I had expected it to be as engaging as her historical fiction. I think the main problem I had with it was that I could not empathise with any of the characters and the story ended a bit mid air.
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5.0 out of 5 stars First edition of Penhallow, 24 Jan. 2013
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Book in condition described. Very pleased to have opportunity to buy a first edition. Reasonably priced and delivered promptly and well packaged. Am pleased I chose to purchase this rather than a cheaper paperback. I would happily buy from this seller again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good plotting and characterisation, 8 May 2014
By 
Mr. A. J. Downs (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Penhallow (Paperback)
This is different from the normal run of Heyer's detective stories, though some of the stock characters are still recognisable. It is of course well written and the plotting carries a wry twist.
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Penhallow
Penhallow by Georgette Heyer (Paperback - 4 Jan. 2007)
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