I finished reading All Change, Elizabeth Jane Howard’s fifth book in her Cazalet Chronicles last night. I’d read the first four books years ago and loved them, so I was keen to read this last one. And it is the final volume of the Chronicles as Elizabeth Jane Howard died in January this year following the publication of All Change.
I’m not going to write very much about it because I read it straight through without marking any passages, or making any notes. I read for the pure pleasure of reading it, just as I had read the first four books, losing myself in the story of the Cazalet family. And it is a very large family by the time of this novel – 1956 – 1958. Some of the family are a bit blurry – the small children are a bit indistinguishable from each other, apart from Georgie, who loves animals and Laura who’s old before her time, both idiosyncratic little characters, and I did keep forgetting which children belonged to which parent and had to keep checking the family tree at the beginning of the book. But that is just a minor point.
It’s a lovely warm, old fashioned family saga, with both happy and sad events as the Cazalets move forward, and not successfully for all of them, in post-war England. It was a great treat! It’s made me want to re-read the early books and to read Slipstream, Elizabeth Jane Howard’s memoir.
I agree with Hilary Mantel’s quotation on the back cover:
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
The Cazalet Chronicles
1. The Light Years (1988)
2. Marking Time (1991)
3. Confusion (1993)
4. Casting Off (1995)
5. All Change (2013)