©1995 Elizabeth Jane Howard; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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Without a doubt this series is the best I've listened to in a very long time - Jill Balcon's sympathetic reading brings all the characters to life. We have followed their fortunes throughout the four books, and as the series winds down, we are sad to realize that this is the last book and we have to say goodbye, but are also delighted at the skill and emotional balance of this superb story teller and emotionally charged narration.
"Wonderful story, beautifully read"
I have just loved every part of this story, of the whole series. It's quite hard to have finished it. It has been fascinating as the story has moved from wartime into peace and into my own experience of social history. The characterisation is excellent and it will be a while before I can leave these people behind.
Gently and beautifully written about a very believable and endlessly engaging cast of characters. Splendidly read by Jill Balcon who seems to catch the subtle nuances and the lovely period flavour of these charming books!
I have know completed all five books in this series. I hardly ever give five stars but these books totally deserve it.
I didn't want any of them to end. I feel like the characters are real people that I know. I can't put my finger on what makes them so brilliant unfortunately, as I wish I could write stories like these. I loved the innocence of the children and the time. I couldn't wait to go to bed to be able to listen to them. I completely and utterly lost myself in every one of the books. It's interesting as such things as morals and thoughts on life are as relevant hundred years of so ago as they are today.
I would totally recommend all five of these books. I cannot sing their praises enough.
The narration was absolutely fantastic with lots of different voices to have to change into. I did read that the narrator was a friend of the writer. Excellent work well done, I wish I spoke as beautifully as you do.
You must must listen to these books.
"Story telling at its best"
A gentle, delightful and captivating quartet of novels, beautifully read. I was immersed from start to finish and almost sad when the novels ended.
Love this book, so sad it's finished, missing all the characters already, what a beautifully written book and narration was perfect.
"Beautifully written and narrated"
Beautifully narrated by Jill Balcon. The usual meticulously written characters. Elizabeth Jane Howard's writing never fails to please and transport me to another time and another world.
I have only one more volume to listen to, the fourth, written ages after the first three. I think this volume, Casting Off, was supposed to draw the threads together and close the saga, so it does provide a sense of this. Many characters reach happy, or at least not miserable outcomes. It does veer towards the fantastic (for example, the discovery of dozens of priceless old masters, in the 200 room crumbling country house of Polly's friend, who then proposes - oh dear, it became really silly); but then, the rest of it isn't exactly 'real life' given the pitch of privilege at which they all live.
Bohemian life (perhaps anticipated a little, the 1940s seems a little too soon, but still...) meets upper-middle class story lines are good. I have to say though that my fondness for some of the characters I really liked at first did begin to wane so I am having a long break before I treat myself to the final volume.
I like the reader's voice, it's perfect for this setting.
"Very disappointed a good book totally ruined."
I am sorry to be negative. I love this book by Elizabeth Jane Howard and have the first three. I never checked that the reader was the same for Casting Off. This reader Jill Balcon has a very flat voice, there is no difference showing who is talking it gets very confusing. Some readers in particular Julia Franklin are wonderful. Not Jill, her voice shows no emotion and she sounds bored. I normally check readers as the voice is so important but did not check this one as I presumed it would be the same as the original 3 books, Elenor Bron I think it is.
"Happy-ever-after - and a poor narrator to boot"
This is the 4th and final novel in the 'Cazalet Chronicles' series, and it's the most irritatingly unrealistic of the lot. What had started out as an interesting family saga set between the war years, by this stage had deteriorated into a tie-the-ends-up, happily-ever-after fantasy. I can't recall so actively disliking a set of characters as much (but then I never was one for romantic fiction). By this stage, too, I was finding Jill Balcon's voice incredibly irritating. It veers wildly between deep and piping, depending on whether she's depicting adults or children, and unless I wore headphones I often missed what she said. I also found there were scarcely any pauses between different scenes - I'd be listening to one scene only to find that the story had moved on in the next breath to somewhere entirely different. It shows how little variety there was in Balcon's reading for me not to spot the switch of location until several minutes had passed. I was so happy when this awful concluding book finally came to its end.
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