Friday, October 17, 2014

All Change (Volume 5 in the Cazalet Chronicles) by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Hardback:  572 pages.
Genre: Womens Fiction.
Publisher: Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Source: Tywyn Public Library.
First Sentences: 'Not long now.' 'Duchy, darling!' 'I feel quite peaceful.' The Duchy shut her eyes for a moment: talking - as did everything else - tired her.
Review Quote: ‘Elizabeth Jane Howard is one of those novelists who shows, through her work, what the novel is for . . . She helps us to do the necessary thing – open our eyes and our hearts’ Hilary Mantel.
My Opinion: It was like meeting up with old friends.

In the early 1990's Elizabeth Jane Howard published the first four volumes of 'The Cazalet Chronicles' and they were a treat to read. Even after a gap of 14 years since Volume 4 'Casting Off' was published it was like meeting up with old friends to read the final volume.  I had always wondered how the Cazelets would survive in the new order of things after the Second World War. This final volume in the series covers two years in the fifties and reminds us just how much life changed for families like the 'Cazelets' after the war. A great swansong from a much loved author.

'All Change' begins nine years after 'Casting Off' ended and as the Duchy, beloved matriarch of the family dies in the opening pages. Her death means a huge change for the family as she was the last part of the disappearing world of huge family houses with many servants and oodles of tradition. A lifestyle that most can no longer retain in the nineteen fifties. For her children, Hugh, Edward, Rachel and Rupert there is no doubt that life is never going to be the same again. Now in their fifties and sixties they are going to struggle in the modern world. It is the women that maybe face the greatest challenges, as the new generation of Cazalets meet at the family residence 'Home Place' to discuss the future and how it will impact on all of them, male or female, family or servant, young or old.

If you enjoy a family chronicle then this is one for you. No problem if you have not read the first four volumes, as there is a foreword which gives the reader unfamiliar with the series an excellent précis of the storyline.

Author Profile

Courtesy of  Independent Newspaper 

Elizabeth Jane Howard was born in London, England on 26th March 1923 and she died on January 2nd 2014 in Suffolk, England. Before becoming her novelist she had careers as an actress and a model, Between the years 1942 and 1983 she had three marriages. She had a daughter Nicola with her first husband, the Naturalist Sir Peter Scott and a stepson Martin from her third marriage to Sir Kingsley Amis.

She is best known for the series of books telling of the changing fortunes of an upper-middle-class English family, the Cazalets, before and after the Second World War. The first four books in the Cazalet Chronicles - The Light Years (1990), Marking Time (1991), Confusion (1993) and Casting Off (1995) were all written and published close together. The final volume being released just a year before her death earlier this year. Established as modern classics they have been adapted for a BBC television series and in2012 for BBC Radio 4. In 2002 Macmillan published her autobiography,Slipstream, that same year she was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

A full list of her works can be found here

Her obituaries published in the Daily Telegraph and The Independent in January 2014 make interesting reading. 

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Daily Telegraph      Wikipedia - Elizabeth Jane Howard   The Independent   

Amazon - Elizabeth Jane Howard

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