The final book in the landmark Cazalet Chronicles, recently broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
It is the 1950s and as the Cazalets' beloved matriarch, the Duchy, passes away, she takes with her the last remnants of a world - of great houses and servants, of class and tradition - in which the Cazalets have thrived. Louise, now divorced, becomes entangled in a painful affair; while Polly and Clary must balance marriage and motherhood with their own ideas and ambitions.
Hugh and Edward, now in their sixties, are feeling ill-equipped for this modern world; while Villy, long abandoned by her husband, must at last learn to live independently. But it is Rachel, who has always lived for others, who will face her greatest challenges yet...
Events will converge at Christmas at Home Place; on which a new generation of Cazalets will descend. Only one thing is certain, nothing will ever be the same again...
©2013 Elizabeth Jane Howard (P)2013 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd
"Elizabeth Jane Howard is one of those novelists who shows, through her work, what the novel is for... She helps us to do the necessary thing - open our eyes and our hearts" (Hilary Mantel)
"Reassuring without becoming dim-witted or simplistic, largely because Howard is such an astute observer of human behaviour. She conveys volumes with tiny, brilliant touches ... I found myself at one in the morning, weeping over a death-bed scene, unable to put the book down. This is Howard's true magic: her humanity transcends the individual. All Change really is the gold standard of comfort reads" (Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times - plus featured in their 'Must Reads' section)
"Beautifully written and utterly engrossing" (Fanny Blake, Woman & Home)
"Reading All Change is like turning the pages of a marvellous vintage photograph album ... a novel to gobble up like a soufflé and then marvel over at leisure" (We Love This Book)
"It was almost enough of a joy to have had four volumes of Elizabeth Jane Howard's great saga about the Cazalet family ... so to have a fifth volume is a huge treat and you do rather hope she will go on forever... It is in fact all wonderful. Please let there be a sixth book. Verdict 5/5" (Jennifer Selway, Daily Express)"The material of the chronicles seems like Howard's natural and inevitable subject... what makes the chronicles worth having is first and foremost they are a true record of the real thing... Howard's virtues as a writer are inside knowledge, exactitude, plainness, unsentimentality... In old age she came into her own." (Tessa Hadley, London Review of Books)"[A] blissful wodge of a book... Deeply enjoyable, beautifully written" (Kate Saunders, Times)"Shows her at her best, her navigation of the web of human relations seemingly effortless" (Sunday Telegraph)
"This is a good old-fashioned family saga . . . cumulatively reassuring without becoming dim-witted or simplistic, largely because Howard is such an astute observer of human behaviour. She conveys volumes with tiny, brilliant touches. All Change really is the gold standard of comfort reads" (Sunday Times)
First, I was, as ever seems to be the case with me and 'trends', a very late arrival to the EJH fan club. But once I found them, I loved and devoured all the other books. This one was written very much later and is set a little later than the others which run pretty much consecutively from just before WW2 to just after its end. Now, in this final volume, we jump forwards by quite a few years.
So I was anxious about whether the book would grip me as the others did, especially the first two in the saga. Some reviews were unfavorable but I went ahead because I really did want to know what happened next.
And it was fine. A different narrator but beautifully read. It is not quite as sharp as the earlier books but it nonetheless diligently deals with most of the characters (not the one who went off to be a monk; he gets left out really) in order and follows the formula for the other books of visiting each family or person in turn.
We get helpful asides to make sure we know what year we are in - the Suez Crisis, telly being around (for the servants, of course) and so on. And so I felt it worked rather well. Things do move on for everyone, and in some cases it's sad, in others it's just 'normal' life.
I won't spoil it, but I was 75% satisfied with the end. I wish it had been a bit different, but the main reason I was not wholly happy was that still, it left unfinished business, but I suppose it had to stop somewhere. There is a sense of some story lines being hastily tied up and others being perhaps too complicated to deal with fully - much like real life. But this is as far from 'real' as you can get. That's fine with me.
I will really miss my many weeks spent with these characters. Largely because of the era it evoked, rather than fondness for them all. I do love the author's complete obsession with food!
Married, now retired. Enjoy Audible books. Discovered that I now enjoy listening to books from the Classics lists.
All the previous books in the Cazelet series, a fabulous continuation.
She captures the very essence of all the characters in the the family, so evocative of their times. Her diction is perfect, never overblown and her accents are subtle.
Both! The storylines epitomise the world that the family lived in. I laughed at the the absurdity of some of their actions and cried at their tragedies. I became absorbed 'into' the family.
Please can we have more of the same high standard of writing and narration.
Having listened to all of the previous books following the Cazalet family, and thoroughly enjoyed them, I was looking forward to this final instalment to see how everything was tied up. I can only say I wish I had never listened to it!
There seemed to be some personality changes in the characters. I felt as though Archie and Clary acted out of character and Edward too seems changed becoming meek and obsequious where Diana was concerned (who herself has lost all sympathy). The Neville storyline was completely ludicrous. Although he was always a bit of a strange child he was sympathetic and quite funny. I just can't accept this is the adult he grew into. Simon too is almost a different character, he seems to have become Christopher 2.0.
Louise and Teddy are even more unsympathetic than they were previously, there is barely a mention of her son, Sebastian, who must be a teenager by now. It might have been interesting to explore their strained relationship, although I suppose we are to assume they do not have a relationship at all it was a strange and disappointing omission.
Speaking of forgotten characters there is barely a mention of Jessica and her family. Christopher's story had run it's course but what of Angela in America and Nora with poor Richard? Also, what about Wills? He strangely gets barely a passing mention.
In contrast I felt there was too much focus on the many new children and I kept forgetting which child belonged to who. I didn't think they warranted such focus as they were just re-hashes of their parents and frankly I wasn't interested in their stories.
The paragraphs are short which gives a choppy feel. There are some errors in continuity (especially where Simon is concerned, it was Wills who had a twin that died not Simon). I suppose we can forgive the author given her age when writing the novel.
Overall, I almost feel as though this volume was an unnecessary addition. The author clearly wanted to re-visit the Cazalets again before she died but seems to struggle with what to do with them. "Casting Off" was the perfect end to the series for me, satisfyingly rounding off the storylines and leaving me feeling uplifted. Although it was lovely to re-visit the family and see how they are getting on, "All Change" left me feeling unsatisfied and slightly depressed.
I have loved the first four of the Cazelet Chronicles but this one is a huge let down.
The story seems forced and not of the same quality as the first four as though someone else had written it
The narrative rambles on and seemed forced Some of the charecters in the book seem to have undergone a complete personality change and one story in particular is ridiculous!.
but by far the very worse thing is Penelope Wiltons reading it is nothing short of awful the previous books were sublimely read by Jill Balkham but this reading by Ms Wilton is terrible!
If it wasnt for the fact that I wanted to hear the end I'd have given up
Penelope Wilton is quite annoying as Mrs Crawley is Downton Abbey but she should really stick to that
It's probably twice as long as it should be, but it is an epic tale about largely vacuous people who don't deserve the easy lives that fate dealt them. However, it's like a warm blanket on a frosty morning... V agreeable
Pity that for last in series the reader was changed, so took a while to settle into it, but was a good reader, too. Felt the book was put into short chapters to get everyone's life story finished, consequently the story line was not as fluent as other books. Still a good end to long story!
I highly recommend listening to all 5 of the series, in order. I shall miss every single one of the Cazelet family
Penelope Wilton was a very disappointing lifeless narrator following on from Jill Balcon who brought all the characters to life in the previous volumes.
It seemed to be an endless list of meals and menus and became rather tedious.
So many children as well that it was difficult to differentiate them one from another.
Disappointment and boredom
What a shame that Elizabeth Jane Howard decided to write this when she had actually let the story run its course in the previous volumes
A superb finale
There were so many - Villy losing her bitterness, Rachel being needed, etc etc
Excellent, she carried on perfectly where Jill Balcon left off.
The joys and woes of family life
Made me wish we could have another five books about them all.
"My all time favorite series"
In the top 5, along with the other 4 books in this series.
Finding that Elizabeth Jane Howard wrote this one last book in the Cazalet Chronicles, available on Audible just a few weeks before she died, was like a precious gift.
"A bit of a let down after the marvelous first ones"
Yes. The last quarter of the book is retelling all that we already know. It is too maudlin and not as interesting as the fist 2/3 of the novel. Remember, I am saying this as one who had reread all of the Cazuelet series. I am big EJH fan.
No. It does little to add to the original series. It only makes one want MORE - at least in the beginning and we are not sated.`I can
I can only listen to books as I am visually impaired. She is a good reader. I rather missed the original reader, but this woman is more than adequate.I
I do not answer such questions. I read books. I have no interest in movies or TV shows.
There was far too much emphasis on Rachel. She, of all the characters, is not only boring but hard to take in. What intelligent woman would sacrifice her own life and pleasures for the likes of a family of disparate brothers? Give me a break. Rachel is most unlikeable.
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