Thursday, 16 January 2014

All Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Elizabeth Jane Howard, an award winning author famous for the Cazalet novels, passed away earlier this month at the age of ninety. Late last year she published a surprise addition to the Cazalet series: All Change.

In case you may have missed them, the Cazalet novels featured a well-to-do English family and how their lives were affected by World War Two. Based in London, the three sons, Hugh, Edward and Rupert and their families return each summer to their parents’ rambling country house, the home also of their unmarried sister, Rachel.

All Change shifts the focus to the 1950s, ten years after the previous book left off. The matriarch of the family is dying, and the timber business that has kept the Cazalets in the manner to which they have become accustomed is in financial trouble. The old way of doing business is no longer working, and they haven’t moved with the times.

There are social changes afoot as well. While the Cazalet sons were sent off to boarding school, the girls were educated by a governess. In the post war world, they haven’t the best skills for making a living. The lives of Louise, Polly and Clary are sharply realised and the reader can only wonder how much the author has drawn from her own experiences.

Howard manages her large cast of characters with care to create another snapshot of a period that had a huge impact on English society. She leaves the family with a lot of challenges, but also possibilities. I am only sad that there can be no sequel, as I would love to know what happens next.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue Link: All Change

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