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4.6 out of 5 stars194
4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 21 November 2002
This is the third volume in the Cazalet Chronicles and it is just as enthralling as the first two. I listened to the first two books on audio (read by Jill Balcon, a magnificent reading), but I just couldn't wait to find out what happened next, so I've just devoured Confusion, and I'm about to start Casting off, the final volume. The Cazalets are a middle-class family during WWII. They are based at Home Place in Sussex, but as the children grow older, and the war intrudes on their lives, the focus of the series has widened. Elizabeth Jane Howard's great gift is to make the reader care about all the characters. The book is divided into sections focussing on one character at a time, and I would become so involved in that character's life that it was often hard to move on to the next section. After half a page, I was just as involved in the next section! The development of the characters is excellent. Zoe, who begins as a beautiful, spoilt girl with no thoughts beyond her own beauty and her own pleasure, has become a much more complex character by the end of the third book. The girls, Louise, Clary and Polly have grown up so convincingly. Rachel, the unmarried dutiful daughter is perfect. Maybe the most interesting character is Archie Lestrange, who becomes a friend and confidant to the whole family. His role as a man who is "practically one of the family" yet also an outsider is fascinating. I can't wait to read the final volume and see what happens to these people who have become so real to me.
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on 12 November 2010
Any reader who enjoys a family saga must read the Cazalet Chronicles. Although there is a complex number of family members at first, a family list is provided for reference and every character is beautifully drawn. The Chronicles cover the members of this middle-class family and their relationships from pre-to -post World War 2 and their coming to terms with the social changes this creates for them all. Set in both Kent and London they are a warm and yet often thought provoking set of novels, with characters one can identify with and care about. Elizabeth Jane Howards's writing is in beautiful English which is a joy to read and justifies the opinion that the Cazalet Chronicles are considered modern classics. Please read them all in order.
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on 8 April 2013
I love the Cazalet Chronicles, read them first some time ago. Having missed most of the recent Radio 4 serialisation, I downloaded all four books and prepared to wallow, And I do still love them, their sense of history, and Elizabeth Jane Howard's sensitive and perceptive delineation of her characters growing and developing in war- time Britain is gripping and believable. but I struggled with the incredibly substandard proof-reading and copy-editing of all four books, and especially this one. Sometimes the errors were so ferocious that I had to re- read whole paragraphs before picking up the meaning. A great pity, whoever is responsible for this sloppy presentation should give these books the respect they deserve and withdraw them for corrections.
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on 12 May 2013
I can't wait for the next in the series. What a pity this electronic version is so full of typographical errors. I wish I could correct them.
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on 30 March 2013
I am really enjoying the Cazalet chronicles but I am afraid the errors in this kindle version are really spoiling my enjoyment of it. Amazon need to do some better proof reading.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 November 2014
This is the third book in the Cazalet series. The family are growing and changing as the world continues to be disrupted by war. Louise, Clary & Polly are growing up and facing all those decisions that adulthood brings. Should they join the forces, get married or find a boring office job? Edward is continuing to juggle his affair, Hugh is struggling with the demands of the business and Rupert is missing presumed dead by everyone except Clary. Rachel's workload is increasing with the aging of her parents and the servants. Throw into this mix the lives of the extended family and the hangers on, such as Archie, upon whomo everyone has come to confide and Sid who is struggling with Rachel's devotion to everyone.

Elizabeth Jane Howard has continued the excellent standard of this series in this book. Rather than a time orientated story, the reader reads a section from one particular person's viewpoint in great detail before moving onto someone new in the next section. This allows the reader to get very involved with each person's life. In fact, I got so involved I was reluctant to move onto someone else. Often the same event is mentioned in more than one person's section allowing the reader to see things from slightly differing viewpoints.

At the start of each book there is a summary of the story so far. So if it has been a little while since you read books one & two this is a very useful few pages. However, if you haven't read the first two books then it is best to read those before embarking on this one. I am very much looking forward to book four.
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on 20 July 2015
This, the third in the five-book series which is The Cazalet Chronicles, covers March 1942 to July 1945, again we see the family’s experiences through the teenage eyes of Polly, Louise and Clary. Much has changed now as the war progresses, particularly affecting the role of women, the breakdown of class barriers, the empowerment of working women and educated poor.
These books are quite a social history of a period which more often is the reserve of thrillers and spy novels. Elizabeth Jane Howard has a subtle hand when it comes to observing relationship, such as Polly’s observation after her mother’s death: “It was possible to believe that she was gone; it was their not ever coming back that was so difficult.” ‘Confusion’ is in part a study of the grief of Polly and her father Hugh; and that of Clary and Neville, whose father Rupert has disappeared in action in France. Clary continues to believe her father is still alive, though the rest of the family quietly accepts his death. Then word from France brings a sliver of hope. Clary grieves for the father she remembers as a child, writing a daily diary for him, and not as the soldier he died as.
The other theme in ‘Confusion’ is love, or the lack of it. Louise’s story is not about death but about young love, expectations and marriage and the realization that her husband Michael is more strongly wedded to his mother Zee than to her. There are war-time affairs, some lust, some love, and with all of them comes the confusion of uncertain times, stress and the pressure of living life ‘now’.
War seems ordinary in the everyday sense, but the Cazalets are living through extra-ordinary times. The familiar characters continue from the first two books, their story arcs going through radical change now as the war progresses and everyone’s life is changed forever.
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on 2 July 2013
The family in question, the Cazalets has built up a succesful timber & transport business. The extensive family home in Sussex houses not only the founding grandparents (now in their 70's) but at various times the children (unmarried daughter and three sons) and their ten grandchildren, together with numerous servants. This story (one of four) covers the period spanning 1942 to the end of the war in 1945.

A family tree is provided in the introduction, but it is worthwhile making your own copy for quick reference, until you are familiar with with all the characters.

This reviewer recalls this period very well because I spent my formative years in my School 6th form and subsequently at London University. I recall only too well the air raids, 'the blitz', and later the 'doodle bugs' and the 'V2'. Thus I can confirm such background events evoked in the story.

I had already read the 4th (and last) book in the in this saga (Casting Off) and wish now I had started with Confusion. I am now rereading the former and it is proving much more rewarding.

The current book brings out clearly the way in which, among the rationing and the general shortages, everyone, both rich and poor had to 'make do and mend'. They were 'all in it together' to coin a current political phrase. I recall a fellow student remarking many years later (in the 70's) that the period 1941 to 1951 was the closest this country had ever got to Socialism.
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on 29 May 2013
An unsettling but satisfying read following the comforting, cosy atmosphere created in the first two novels.The second world war was a time of great unhappiness, but also, for some, a time of adventure and opportunity. Through following the lives of the various members of the Cazalet family this third novel shows the utter confusion of a world where nothing was certain. Relationships developed and lost, uncertainty, fear, misunderstandings and false starts, are all underpinned by the sense of belonging centred on the family base at Home Place.
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on 23 February 2013
I love reading ebooks but my enjoyment is often disrupted by frequent typos - why is this? You don't get typos in paper printed books, so why do we have to endure them in ebooks??????
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