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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 25 July 2017
Fastidiously honest autobiography by top-rate, thrice-married novelist who says she felt as though most of her life was lived in the slipstream of experience, often repeating the same disastrous situation several times before she got the message.
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on 17 September 2017
A very honest autobiographical work with some disturbing passages. Anyone who has seen the semi-autobiographical TV film 'Falling' will know something about the author's complex vulnerability and feistiness. A stunningly beautiful woman who achieved literary fame (sadly only later in life) and made an important contribution to encouraging the writing career of Martin Amis, her stepson. A very good read.
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on 14 October 2015
Beautifully written, a "can't put down page turner", and full of background information, the innocence and naivety portrayed, Elizabeth Jane Howard having lived a life before 20, most would not have experienced over many more years.
Worth the read, before reading her other publications.
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on 16 May 2017
What a life! Its a wonder she could still write about it.Made me want to read all of her novels and am working through them......
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on 23 June 2017
A very well written book
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on 6 September 2017
Excellent product and supplier.
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on 30 October 2015
After reading all of the Cazelet books, I can see where she got her material from. I'm about half way through a very enjoyable and revealing book.
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on 17 June 2015
It was a very interesting read, about her chequered life, about interesting people, but probably, as she wished, about the truth.
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on 18 September 2016
Elizabeth Jane Howard's autobiography 'Slipstream' is a brave, honest and a very straight-talking memoir of a long and full life. Born in 1923 into a comfortably-off family living in Kensington, Elizabeth Jane Howard had a rather difficult relationship with her mother (the daughter of a well-known composer and who gave up a dancing career with the Ballets Russes when she married), but EJH adored her father, an adoration that was tempered with fear and confusion when he began making amorous advances towards her when she reached the age of fifteen. At the age of seventeen, with ambitions of becoming an actress, she persuaded her parents to let her join a student rep company, and at the age of nineteen she married the much-older Peter Scott, the son of the polar explorer, and gave birth to a daughter, Nicola. EJH struggled with motherhood (her daughter was brought up by a succession of nannies - a situation which has caused the author feelings of guilt and lasting regret) and her marriage was soon in trouble after she had an affair with Peter's younger brother, Wayland. After several further affairs (including relationships with Laurie Lee, Arthur Koestler, Romain Gary and [to her lasting shame] Cecil Day-Lewis - the husband of her dear friend, Jill Balcon), a second failed marriage, and the publication of her novels, 'The Beautiful Visit' (which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1951), 'The Long View' and 'The Sea Change', EJH met and fell in love with the writer Kingsley Amis, who was married with three children. Once Amis's divorce came through they married, but after an initial period of married bliss, the marriage encountered difficulties, not least caused by Amis's heavy drinking and, after eighteen years, EJH left him for a life on her own.

There is, of course, a huge amount more to Elizabeth Jane Howard's life than I have mentioned here, including life after Amis and the late arrival into her life of a sociopathic conman whose past history was fortunately discovered before too much harm was done (the relationship between them inspired her to write her marvellous novel 'Falling'). Ms Howard mentions in her preface that she is a slow learner who feels as if she has lived her life in the slipstream of experience, often having to repeat the same disastrous situation several times before getting the message, and she has been very candid in sharing her life experiences with her readers - even those parts of her past history that cast her in a less than attractive light. However, whatever the reader might feel about certain aspects of Ms Howard's past life, it is impossible (for this reader, anyhow) not become caught up in her unflinching, hugely interesting and totally absorbing account. An exquisitely written autobiography and one I find easy to recommend.

5 Stars.
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I'm not sure if Elizabeth Jane Howard would approve of the reason I chose this book to read: it was because I had read and so much enjoyed Elspeth Huxley's wonderful biography of Peter Scott Peter Scott: Painter and Naturalist and thought it might be interesting to see things from another angle - as EJH was Scott's first, very young wife - she was 19 when they married in 1942.

I commented in my review of that book, that Peter Scott seems to have met everyone, and EJH surpasses him in that. She reels off an astonishing string of famous names from Laurens Van der Post to the Queen Mother and Louis de Bernieres, who were friends, acquaintances, or lovers, including of course her third husband, Kingley Amis. But like Martha Gellhorn whose life and writing stands independently of her husband Ernest Hemingway, EJH's life and writing merit attention in their own right.

The memoir begins with young family life, grandparents, parents, cousins, dogs and horses, a secure, privileged life. In fact one of the aspects of the book I found fascinating was the class awareness, reflecting the assumptions of those born in the 1920's who had servants, and couldn't actually regard the lower classes as being the same species. It is always a generous and benevolent attitude, never snobbish, but the divide is obvious - I chortled frequently at sentences like: "Then Gaia Mostyn-Owen, who had a charming little castle outside Edinburgh, invited the Temple-Muirs and us to lunch." People are always inviting people to stay in far flung places, villas and mansions, for weeks on end, no doubt secure in the knowledge that cleaners and cooks would pick up the slack.

There is a tragic-comic section towards the end when "a man from a council house" professes love to the author in her 70's, and she is almost taken in until discovering he is a con man.

What is wonderful about the book to me, is the description of a progression towards old age. As a young woman EJH was a positive magnet to men, she was continually propositioned and seduced by married men - an idyllic three weeks in Spain with Laurie Lee being an outstanding example - by her definition she faced financial and emotional struggles, and certainly in her old age, the tragedy of declining health is bravely and honestly documented. It seems to me impossible not to finish the book with an absolute admiration of this woman who has been so honest with herself and her readers about her many failings, including her inability to bond with her daughter who was more or less brought up by others - what would nowadays almost certainly be diagnosed as post natal depression.

It is not surprising that the author ended up in long periods of therapy. The absolutely shocking episode with her father, her problems with food and her very young marriage to a man whose mother possessed the strongest of iron wills, would have given the most phlegmatic woman too much to deal with.

Like all good books, or books which we find we enjoy the most, there are phrases that particularly strike a chord with me: "a chief feature of guilt is paralysis," "love seemed to me the most desirable, the most important of human emotions," "there is a great difference between wanting to be a writer and wanting to write," "love is not an ever-fixed mark by arrangement."

There was a time when EJH tried meditation and decided not to pursue it, as she felt that it would result in a detachment from life: whereas its purpose is in fact to make you fully aware of each moment. She says "a disagreeable feature of being unhappy is an incapacity to live in the present" - and meditation addresses that.

In spite of the health problems she has suffered, Elizabeth Jane Howard ends with a positive attitude to ageing and the limitations it has imposed. She is determined to live with curiosity and interest for the rest of her life, and I am sure that she will succeed. She is still a very beautiful woman.

EJH states that a reviewer is there to tell people what they might like to read and why, so probably won't like this one...I should also add one last point, the book is frequently very funny.
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