Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Elizabeth Jane Howard

'I have always rather wondered whether perhaps you and Clary might not benefit from university?  It is the time when one can absorb most and I should like to think of you being exposed to really good minds, first-class teaching and the opportunity to meet many different kinds of people.' Miss Milliment, Marking Time, Elizabeth Jane Howard

I’m racing through Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet novels quite unable to put them down. I’ve almost finished the third volume Confusion and I’m so invested in the characters now that I can’t wait to find out whether Polly will find love, Villy will kick her cheating husband into touch, Louise will resume her passion for acting and Clary’s father will ever return from capture in France.

Home Place, the Sussex country house with its familiar and comforting routines provides sanctuary for various generations of the Cazalet family amidst the hardships of wartime. Tennis tournaments are played while bombers fly overhead, lemons and sugar are nowhere to be found, clothing coupons are used on rare shopping trips to Liberty and Peter Jones in London and passengers arriving on the Sussex trains have to count the stops and guess which station they are at because of the blackouts.
And what will become of the wonderful Miss Milliment? The elderly governess of great intellect and gift for teaching. Despite her unfortunate appearance and lonely life lived in abject poverty she always advocates education for girls.

Elizabeth Jane Howard has a remarkable ability to portray three or four generations of the Cazalet family and their domestic staff and wider networks of friends and make them all seem vivid and real. There are lots of affairs and extra-marital relations perhaps as a reaction to the constant fear of bombs and the advance of Hitler.  

Good to see that the first volume The Light Years is now a Picador classic and good to know that I still have two more books this series to come. Do you love The Cazalets?


Mary said...

You have reminded me what a delight it was to read these for the first time; and how frustrating when the series ground to a standstill for so many years. (Sadly, the final book wasn't as good as the others when it appeared at long last.) I've just discovered the old TV series online which will be a treat.

JoAnn said...

I have The Light Years on my kindle, purchased as a daily deal almost a year ago. Have a feeling I'm going to love it... thanks for the reminder!

Karen K. said...

I love, love, love The Cazalet Chronicles -- I first saw the TV mini series which is excellent, but the books are even better. I was so sorry to finish the fifth book. I've started collecting her other novels but have only read one so far, The Long View. It was good but I wasn't as in love with the characters as much as the Cazalets. I also have her memoir Slipstream which sounds really interesting.

Heather Bond said...

What Karen K. said! Love, love, love the Cazalets. I was very sorry that the miniseries didn't continue. I think I may need a re-read.

Simon T (StuckinaBook) said...

I really enjoyed the first one and meant to read the others, but... oh dear, now I don't remember anything about the first one!

Becky said...

Yes! I had intended to space these out when I read them, but instead I was so caught up in them that I read them back to back. Absolutely love them.

Kat at Thornfield Hall Redux said...

You make me want to return to these books. I absolutely loved them and have never seen the film. Nor actually sure they showed it in the U.S. but I'm sure I'll find it somewhere.

Anbolyn said...

These are so good and I adore them! I am currently reading #4. I love the little domestic details and the characters feel like friends.

Vintage Reading said...

Mary, just finished the fifth novel and yes it isn't as good as the others. Would have been better as a quartet - four fabulous novels. I note that Anna Chancellor played Edward's mistress in the TV series. I bet she was brilliant!

Joann, hope you enjoy it, do post.

Karen K, yes I started one of EJH's other novels but couldn't get into it. The four Cazalet novels are fantastic though. Polly is my favourite Cazalet I think!

Heather, yes, I've passed the book to my mum to read and she's loving it too!

Simon, back to the beginning then!

Becky, I already want to re-read The Light Years and take in all the nuances.

Kat, the TV series wasn't a huge hit here. Can't understand why as everyone went crazy for Downton Abbey

Anbolyn. Nice to hear from you - are you still blogging?