©1993 Elizabeth Jane Howard; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
"Lush, sprawling escapist fiction of the first order....Howard creates a nearly palpable world, peopled with the sort of well-conceived characters that linger long in the reader's mind." (Publishers Weekly)
The stunning 3rd volume of the series by this much under-appreciated writer packs a massive emotional punch. The understated artistry of the writing is the driving force here, and is marvellously served by a very fine narrator.
This is one of those books it is far better to listen to than to read. The narrator adds so much. Ms. Howard writes about children with so much understanding and yet also gets into the minds of the cook and the wonderful elderly governess and the stately yet broadminded matriarch. Fans of Downton Abbey will heartily enjoy this series.
The reading is extraordinary. Jill Balcom is a fine actress; I watched her on the BBC when I was growing up in London. She manages to differentiate between characters with just slight inflections and changes to her voice. She gets the accents and intonations SO well.
I don't have a favorite character. They are all so finely drawn and developed from the first of the chronicles and grow up or age wonderfully.
I mentioned this attribute in the first section: her ability to give each character a personality. One gets to know the people by their voices.
So much of the series reminds me of my growing up in London during the 50s, and from what my mother told me, of life during the war in England. So many of the things in the book, from food to specifically British things like Harrington squares (terry cloth outer diapers) bring back my childhood. Even the streets where they lived are in my neighborhood! And musicians are mentioned that I knew. Extraordinary.
"Addictive, Easy, Indulgent"
I had never heard of this series until Audible, cleverly, kept suggesting it to me. I am now on this, the third book of the series and hopelessly addicted.
The characters are (almost) all frightfully posh, very privileged and insulated from 'real life' in so many ways. The war comes as a terrible shock, and yet, with their huge country house to escape to, plus many grand London homes and mansion flats, they cope.
The things I like are the rattling plot lines - though in this volume, I am getting very tired of the children so often leading the narration. It's OK to see life through the eyes of 10 year old Neville now and then, but not as much as this. Otherwise, the plot lines, of which there are dozens, really get along at a good pace.
I also like the way the characters are presented. I don't LIKE a good many of them, but that's not a problem. Also, and cleverly, they are allowed to develop and mature as the volumes progress.
I also like the narration. I see from reviews that whilst many agree, some do not, and I can see why. But this narrator, with a cut-glass style (thus, she struggles a bit with servants' voices, but it's not too bad) does really suit the utterly upper-middle class setting.
Sometimes I have been annoyed by bits of the story, but if I'm really honest, it's an effortless listen, a posh family soap. My next 2 credits are due today and I am going to get the last 2 volumes. Addiction. But I am going to force myself to listen to a gory murder or a history book first to refresh my palette!
"Disliked the narrator and the story"
This is the 3rd of the unabridged 'Cazalet Chronicles' books read by Jill Balcon. I'd started to dislike her narration in book 2 ('Marking Time') but since I'd stupidly bought the whole 4-book set I ploughed on with it. The characters from this family saga who had interested me in book one ('The Light Years') were effectively sidelined in this book, as the focus moved almost exclusively to the 3rd generation of rather self-regarding young adults. Balcon's voice veers 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 weren't adequate pauses between different scenes - I thought I was listening to one group of people only to find that the story had moved on to somewhere entirely different. It shows how little variety there is in Balcon's reading for me not to spot the switch of location until several minutes had passed. I enjoyed neither the narration nor the story.
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.
I have found myself strangely unable to stop listening to the beautifully written and superbly read slow unfolding of the complex lives of these beguiling characters. These appear to be made all the more complicated by the seeming inability of many of them to be straightforward with each other! Sadly, a lesson for me, when I look back at my own life!
I am guessing here, but I can't help wondering if the author would be rather pleased at this outcome!
"Just as excellent as the first two"
It ended on such a cliffhanger - an emotional one - that I will have to immediately listen to the next one!
"Fascinating continuation of the Cazolet family"
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, can't wait to start the next one in the series which I will be doing straight away. Narration excellent
Great family saga
everything, in this book the focus is on the younger members of the family.
Everything..Jill has a special style well suited to a family saga. Loved it.
No...best to listen in stages, you won't want to hurry this book, there is so much to take in, it is beautifully written
All the books in the "Saga" are lovely...a real treat to listen to, the characters are well drawn and the war years full of incidental detail....really enjoyed all of them.
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