Penelope Wilton narrates BBC Radio 4’s epic dramatisation of the treasured family saga, Elizabeth Jane Howard’s five book chronicle of the upper-middle class. Cazalet family begins in 1938, as siblings Hugh, Edward, Rupert, and Rachel join together for another family holiday at Home Place, their house in the Sussex countryside.
During the course of The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, Casting Off, and All Change, the progress of their lives, and those of their children, will be charted. As their stories unfolds we gain a vivid insight into the lives, hopes, and loves of three generations during the Second Word War and beyond.
Dramatised by Sarah Daniels and Lin Coghlan, and with a large cast of actors across all five books, this remarkable radio event adds a new dimension to Elizabeth Jane Howard’s extraordinary chronicles. The first four Cazalet novels sold over a million copies, with the fifth being published in 2013, shortly before the author’s death.
©2014 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2014 BBC Worldwide Ltd
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
If you've never met the Cazalets, let this be your introduction. And if you have, you'll love returning to Home Place to see them all again. The casting is perfect: every performance was distinctive, powerful, and absolutely top class. It was enjoyable to hear the ever-ladylike Penelope Wilton's narration throughout. It is a bit of a soap opera, of course, and rather melodramatic in parts. (I would have liked deeper characterization in several places). But what a story! It has everything: war, peace, love, desire, denial, regret...all of human life. You won't forget these characters, nor "Home Place" the estate that is, if you will, a character in itself. Highly recommended to those who love a sweeping family saga, and to all who enjoy hearing BBC Radio at its very best.
"Lose yourself in this epic family saga"
The story, it's always all about the story telling
Rachel, lovable and believable
Listening while on holiday so lying on a beach was transported into their world
No, too long for that !
"Like snuggling up with a duvet and a box of chocs"
Penelope Wilton's beautiful narration and the perfect dramatisation.
Sid's fight against cancer.
No not yet but I am looking forward to listening.
Numerous moments moved me. Although my hanky was used many times for sad bits, there is a lovely sense of hope throughout.
The Cazalets books are one of my favourite reads and this dramatisation is just wonderful.
I didn't want this to end. I would like to know what happens next. I felt bereft when it ended. I loved every character played, even if I disliked the portrayed character traits. I wish there was more.
"Brilliant story, so well told."
A woman's book, in my opinion, and I wish there were more like it. This is a many-faceted saga about the Cazalet family which I found totally compelling. The most intimate thoughts of every character are revealed; their reactions to the many problems that arise, their relationships, all are described with understanding and compassion. What obviously concerns this writer is how vulnerable people are exploited and even abused by the ruthless and selfish partners they often attract. This is a keeper!
I have read the Cazalet Chronicles so many times that the characters are like old friends. The adaptation is so beautifully abridged and acted that I think I will always hear these voices when I next return to the books.
"A superb, sensitive saga brilliantly dramatised"
This is a dramatization of all five novels which make up Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazalet Chronicles, the fifth one completed shortly before her death in 2014. With the narration within this BBC dramatisation spoken so beautifully by Penelope Wilton, and with an excellent full cast, it is a truly wonderful listening experience. It just couldn't be bettered and is a fitting tribute to EJH.
Beginning in 1937 it follows the fortunes - and misfortunes - of the extended Cazalet family from the end of the 1930s to the 1950s, from servant-supported idylls of family holidays in Sussex full of fun and promise, through the tragedies of wartime, to a changed world and shattered family finances. There are so many poignant episodes that are deeply moving - the tough old family matriarch they call the Duchy struck dumb in her planting as her son walks into the garden after being missing for years during the war; the heart-breaking death scene between Rachel and Sid who had loved each other faithfully for so many years... There are many, many more, all presented with infinite subtlety as the various members of the family face every variation of pain and joy.
The background of social change from before, during and after WW2 is totally authentic (EJH lived through it), and the family members experiencing it all are complete people, not merely characters, their voices capturing every nuance of feeling. The sufferings to be endured through the agonies of love, and the loss of love, are a major part - there is an awful lot of heart-rending weeping as affairs rage, destroy and die, and love is yearned for and usually only fleetingly captured.
What gave listening to the Chronicles an extra dimension for me was that I had just read EJH's autobiography Slipstream, which obviously covers the same ground as the biography Elizabeth Jane Howard A Dangerous Innocence by Artemis Cooper newly published and released on Audible. The fascinating thing is the way that EJH's life was a catalogue of thwarted ambitions, affairs and unhappy relationships conducted with an unattractive heartless selfishness. I really didn't warm to her as a person as she presented herself, but she translated all her feelings and imagination into the world she creates here in the Chronicles. It is shot through with the most touching sensitivity, and a deep understanding of the human heart.
"Absorbing and wonderful..."
...Just like the books. This is a fabulous story, beautifully told. I loved it and will be recommending it to friends and family. And listening to it again very soon!
Hours of being in the company of the Cazalet family - pure joy! I couldn't recommend highly enough!! Great story and great performances - such a shame when it ended!
"Poignant family saga..."
Too many to choose one...
Polly's first visit to Gerald's home.
I spread it over three days - one has to sleep!
I loved the books and the dramatisation is essentially truncated but, none-the-less, the spirit of this moving story of a large family is encapsulated here.
I've read all five books about the Cazalets and enjoyed them so much I thought it would be nice to hear the story read aloud to me. The play was perfect, the actors sounded just like the way I heard them in my head when I read the books. I really enjoyed this and would happily listen to it again.
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