Customer Review

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A sadly bland and flat end to the Cazalet Chronicles, 19 Oct. 2013
This review is from: All Change (Cazalet Chronicles) (Hardcover)
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This series has always been a superior family saga tracing the Cazalet family from 1937 through the second world war. This final volume is set in 1956-8 and not just have the privileged life-styles of the Cazalets changed, but the world of the book. Characters who were once vivid and individual have become flat and interchangeable to such an extent that it's difficult to keep them apart - not a problem in the earlier volumes.

There's little plot to speak of and the narrative itself feels meandering and fragmented, jumping between numerous characters, and often only lingering with them for a few pages before moving off again.

An obsession with food seems to replace characterisation (`they assembled in the dining room for poached chicken with vegetables followed by strawberry shortcake and cream', `they ate potted shrimps, roast pheasant and a cold lemon soufflé', `I make brandy snaps for my pa and chocolate truffles for my ma and aunt') and there is little emotional engagement with anyone in the book.

I've enjoyed Howard's other books but this is a sadly disappointing ending to the series.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Nov 2013 15:03:11 GMT
I haven't read the book, but am thinking of it, but I just was having a little ponder about whether writing in too much detail about food is necessarily a bad thing. I was just remembering all the funny meals in Iris Murdoch and how they always seemed to evoke instantly for me the strange, adhoc way in which a lot of the characters lived - like, no one ever has roast dinner in iris murdoch. Somehow for me I rather liked your excerpted sentences - those meals are very evocative for me of a certain time. "Poached chicken" - god, that has gone out of fashion....

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Nov 2013 16:46:00 GMT
Last edited by the author on 29 Nov 2013 16:46:33 GMT
Roman Clodia says:
You're right, detailed description, whether of food or, for example, décor, isn't necessarily extraneous and can be extremely evocative of character, status and situation. I guess my issue with the book is that it seems to stand in for a more detailed engagement with character or personality which is left lazily undelineated.
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