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!
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.
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.
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
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
I've thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in the life and times of the Cazalet family. It's been an interesting journey through the social and familial changes. I m missing them already.
Holding to the ground while the world keeps shifting!
I set myself the challenge after hearing the BBC adaptation to listen to every single book. I'm sad in a way Penelope Wilton didn't read them all, as she was perfect. In saying this I have had such joy living with the Cazalets for the past few months and each book has been wonderfully fulfilling.
I normally don't do fiction but these books we're outstanding and had EJH not died one has to wonder what might have happened if another book had come along.
I cannot recommend highly enough this and the entire series. Especially as each book begins by a "of you have t read the others" catch up.
I have just finished the final and fifth book in the Cazalets series.
I am upset that I have finished these fantastic books (in my opinion).
I have really enjoyed the stories of a more simpler time but no doubt harder time particularly for the working class.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the book although being honest this was my least favourite. It didn't seem as good as the other books and although the narrator was excellent I really didn't enjoy having to listen to a 'changed' author. I particularly enjoyed the first narrator and had got used to her and all of her voices for the various characters.
I didn't enjoy in this book how characters seemed to change. For example Edward went from being a confident funny big character into a smaller man, although I suppose you could argue that he would change after want he went through, I won't spoil it for others by saying anymore. This book felt more disjointed than the others. I wish the ending hadn't left me wondering what happened to most of them.
However having said that I did still enjoy the book, and did not want the series to end. I really felt that I knew all of the characters. I have recommended this book to many people as I think it's is a timeless classic. I will leave it a year and listen to it again. I think this series is a little gem and I hardly ever give five stars so that says it all. Enjoy.
Sadly I really struggled with this last volume. The writing and pace of all of them has been gentle and slow - but this one seemed to rather take the thing to extremes! I also really did not like the change of narrator and found her continual mis-pronunciation of quite simple words both sloppy and annoying. A shame!
"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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