on 8 January 2014
An excellent read as all of Elizabeth Jane Howard books are and how sad that we should have just lost her. What a remarkable woman to have still been writing to the day she died at over 90 years old and to have completed her Cazalet series. Her books are remarkable for their insights into relationships - she should be read more!
on 12 November 2013
This book brings the family into the 1950s as we are reacquainted with old friends in a changing world and changing circumstances. This book really needs to be read in conjunction with the foregoing volumes but even then there are now so many family members that it is difficult to keep track of which children belong to who, in the end I gave up referring to the family tree and just went with the story and it didn't really matter that I wasn't too sure of exact parentage.
Whilst reading I was acutely aware that this was the final book in the saga so was expecting events to be tied up by the end. I was relieved to find they weren't, and hope that this means another volume will be forthcoming. It is a gentle read, and the saga overall describes well the events and emotions that individuals experienced over changing history and attitudes.
I had planned to take my time reading this book, but got so involved that I read it in one day.
I do hope that there will be another volume - there is so much more that needs to be explored as to what becomes of the family in their changed circumstances as they adapt into the 60s.
on 4 May 2014
I found this novel most unsatisfactory. It seemed as if the ending had be hurriedly finished, so much so, that it left a good many things up in the air. Considering it was suppose to be the very last book in the series one would suppose that the author would tie things up satisfactory but this wasn't done and I found it very disappointing.
on 26 November 2013
Having partially seen the BBC adaptation of the Cazalet Chronicles, I devoured the first 4 books in the series with great enjoyment. They are a superior family saga (I thought of the Forsyte Saga and a little bit of the Whiteoaks series - both very popular in their day). It could be a soap opera of the upper middle classes but the gentle but sharp observations, the excellent descriptions and the clarity of the writing (meaning that although the cast of characters is huge, I can generally sort them out without too much resorting to the family tree) lifts it up a level.
I was thrilled, like many, to see a 5th book was coming out, and pre-ordered it on Kindle. With a gap of a couple of years since reading Casting Off, I did wonder if I ought to re-read this in order to get to grips with the characters again, but I found the intro, family trees and catch-up sections more than adequate. Some sharp eyed reviewers have spotted editorial and continuity glitches, but I have to say, I just wallowed, and only one thing had me wondering if I was wrong, or if this contradicted the earlier books. E J Howard does wonderful observations of children - they really leap off the page in all their varied awfulness, and the memory of having to have one plain slice of bread and butter at tea before being allowed anything with jam on, or any biscuit and cake, was a blast from the past from my own childhood. As the author is 90, it's unlikely there will be further episodes, but the ending, although tying up most loose ends, was not totally final, and you never know. I was aware they were semi-autobiographical, but having just started Slipstream, I am now aware just how closely they mirrored the author's own family & experiences.
on 11 January 2014
Having read each of the previous four Cazalet chronicles as soon as they were published - and noting that the last one was in 1995 (!) I was really looking forward to this latest (and unexpected) addition with great anticipation.
As other reviewers have advised, it really is important to read the earlier four books to get maximum enjoyment (and background) to this one. I did read all of the previous four again before starting on All Change (and I really enjoyed reading them again for the umpteenth time!).
All Change came as a bit of a disappointment - it lacked the detail and characterisation of the earlier novels - and as remarked by another reviewer, really did seem to revolve around meal times. I found it an enjoyable read, but lightweight compared to the others - and the ending was just so contrived.
Ideally, I guess I would have liked another four books to cover the period in All Change, with the same degree of engagement with the characters as in the previous novels - but this is a probably a bit much to ask of Elizabeth Jane Howard
I would recommend this as a good read to anyone who has read and enjoyed the earlier Cazalet chronicles, but warn them to expect a much lighter read with rather too many unlikely endings during the story.
on 19 January 2016
I had the five Cazelet books for ages before getting into them, and what a reward.........after the first few chapters, you will be hooked. The ups and downs of the family, the good and not so good times and the characters that you will dislike only to become fond of, and those that will be the object of your scorn. A wonderful set of five novels perfect for winter evenings.
on 6 December 2013
Reading the Cazalet Chronicles some dozen years ago (at my wife's urging) changed my entire taste for both books and films(for the better, I hope). How wrapped up one became in the lives of the varied characters, once the whole, complex family tree had been sorted out. The lovely Polly and the more complex Clary. Philandering Edward. Good, honest, upright Hugh losing his wife to cancer. And so on. A myriad of fascinating, interconnected tales.
So imagine my utter delight to discover that EJH had written a sequel. I couldn't wait for the Kindle edition to be downloaded, but wisely took other reviewers' advice and re-read "Casting Off" before settling down to life in the 1950's with the so familiar characters. And, like several other reviewers, I found the book very hard to put-down. It just got better and better, ending with that last, poignant, memorable Christmas 1958 at Home Place.
EJH has left so many unanswered questions at the end of this book. Does Hugh survive his heart attack? Does Edward finally ditch the dreadful Diana? Will Rachel find fulfilment? And as for the numerous young adults and children.......
So, please,wonderful authoress, put pen to paper once again. And if you do so, please let poor Villy find some real happiness in the rest of her life. A nice gentleman, with whom she will fall in love and live happily ever after.
on 24 September 2014
Wonderful. I felt that Casting Off wasn't quite satisfying, seemed rushed towards the end, so this final chronical has, far more assuredly, fulfilled the Cazalet history. Casting Off, suited to the title, seemed to be written just to tie up loose ends, All Change offers modern challenges to the comfortable Cazalet family. They had come through the 30s Depression, the War, 50s austerity with business and health, mostly, intact, surviving the emotional anguish of all these events with the shiny middle class aura unscratched.
Elizabeth Jane Howard confronts the sense of entitlement that wreaths this class head on and writes a true story for the 21st century about the 20th, right at the point where everything changed, politics, economics, authority and deference, style and social rules.
It was fascinating to see how these so-well-known characters responded, troopers or ostriches, stalwarts or weaklings, in ways which were not always obvious.
I loved it, wish I hadn't given away all the earlier books now, even though I'd read them 3 times...
Just a plug for the radio 4 dramatisation, which was pitch perfect.
on 3 December 2013
I looked forward so much to reading this book,having devoured the first four back to back.
The stories were more episodic.Each chapter was named by the character[s] involved in it,and were fairly short.Just as a storyline started to develop,it was sometimes, it seemed, cut short,and moved onto another a bit too quickly.
The characters are still there, even if it is very hard at this stage, to remember all their back stories.
Some have developed well, others remained a sketchy outline, and not really credible.For example, Neville's crush on his half sister.
This was, to me, unlikely, as, for all his waywardness,he surely would have realised it was not possible to persue her.Then he just dropped out of the story.
The first four books immersed the reader in the War years,and a real sense of what it was like to be a civilian at this time was conveyed.The years following must have been less intense,but the book did not really give a feeling of what domestic life would have entailed,which I felt was the main strength of the Chronicles.
There were other plot devices that I felt didn't work, but I do feel that perhaps the way has been left open for further books.
Whilst I felt it was not up to the standard of the others,it was still a book to enjoy,and there was a sense of what all families experience in evolving over a long period of time.
Also, it would have been a better read in book form,than Kindle, as it certainly would have been easier to keep going back to the Family Tree.
on 12 December 2013
I ordered this immediately I saw that a further Cazalet novel had been written and loved it. It follows on beautifully from Book 4 even though that was written quite a time ago, and I soon got into the family again. Would love a Book 6!