A satisfying conclusion* to a series that definitely improved as it went along. This installment nicely captured the sort of aimlessness, desolation, and feeling of 'now what?' in postwar Britain, while giving some closure to characters' storylines that had developed over the previous three volumes. Not everyone got a happy ending, but most at least got one that felt right.
*Howard published a fifth and final book in 2013, nearly 20 years after #4 was published, but I think it works fine as a quartet, since that's clearly how it was originally intended.
But for the Duchess of Cornwall's holiday reading in the Mediterranean recently being spotted by a long lens, I probably never would have heard of the Cazalet Chronicles.Curiosity got the better of me.What was the Tabloid press making such a fuss about? So, I started and I've done the right thing and read the 4 books in the series in order.What a a delightful experience.The byegone world of the British lifestyle from the end of the 1st World War, through the 1920's and 30's, World War II and its aftermath,is seen through the lives and loves of the Cazalet family,their relations, friends and servants. Elizabeth Jane Howard has a light, insightful touch, less sharp and pithy than Mary Wesley but the similarities are there, with all the details and eccentricities minutely explored.She knows this world.The quality of her writing is uniformly good. I've dipped in and out of 2 of the books simultaneously and the transfers were seamless. Unlike Mary Wesley, EJH is still with us and, at aged 90, she has written a 5th volume of the Cazalet story set in the 1950's. 'All Change' is due out on Nov 7, 2013.The library has it on order so I will be able to enjoy the doings of the Cazalets one more time. As to the Duchess of Cornwall, I hope she enjoyed 'Casting Off' as much as I did, regardless of what was said in the papers.
I recommend reading the Cazalet Chronicles in order. This is the fourth and final book and takes place after WWII is over. It's like getting a long letter from home as we read about the family members and how they recover from the war years and how they manage without servants. It is mostly love stories--couples breaking up, couples falling in love, couples getting married. There are a lot of characters, for the original family members have children and grandchildren, and this is the story of their lives. Pleasant reading.
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