We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.co.uk/access.
 >   > 
The Light Years Audiobook

The Light Years: Cazalet Chronicle, Volume 1

Regular Price:£20.99
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • £7.99/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

The tangled lives of three generations evoke a vanished world in this, the first volume of the Cazalet Chronicle.

Home Place, Sussex, 1937. The English family at home.... For two unforgettable summers, they gathered together, safe from the advancing storm clouds of war. In the heart of the Sussex countryside, these were still sunlit days of childish games, lavish family meals, and picnics on the beach.

Three generations of the Cazalet family played out their lives - with their relatives, their children and their servants - and the fascinating triangle of their affairs....

©1990 Elizabeth Jane Howard (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (206 )
5 star
 (122)
4 star
 (46)
3 star
 (22)
2 star
 (9)
1 star
 (7)
Overall
4.2 (159 )
5 star
 (92)
4 star
 (34)
3 star
 (17)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (8)
Story
4.4 (156 )
5 star
 (102)
4 star
 (32)
3 star
 (15)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (3)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Knucklebones 09/01/2012
    Knucklebones 09/01/2012

    Knucklebones

    HELPFUL VOTES
    113
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    45
    42
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    "A snapshot of pre-WW2 upper middle class life"

    As the first in a quartet of novels I really enjoyed this book. The writing was excellent and drew me in quickly to the lives of the well-to-do Cazelet family, with their individual London homes as well as their large family home in Sussex. The individual characters in the story are all interesting, with the aging Brig and Duchy as heads of the family, plus their 3 children and their spouses, all in their 30s when this saga opens. It was well read by Jill Balcon who was a friend of the author. Two warnings, though. Firstly there are so many characters in the novel (20+) and the story switches so frequently from one family set to another, that I finally resorted to sketching out a family tree so I could keep track! Also, if you enjoyed listening to this book, don't make the same mistake I did of purchasing all 3 of the remaining volumes at once. My enjoyment rapidly diminished as the focus of the saga moved from the 2nd generation featured in this book to their children in the remaining novels.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Avril Cinderford, United Kingdom 17/04/2013
    Avril Cinderford, United Kingdom 17/04/2013 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    70
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    78
    65
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Seriously addictive"

    I'm not normally into 'sweeping family sagas' but had heard some of the abridged Cazelet series acted out on the radio, and wanted to hear the full version. Jill Balcon is a wonderful reader, her characterisations are so unique to each person that one forgets one is listening to a single narrator. Since listening to The Light Years I am eagerly looking forward to hearing the remaining three volumes.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirstine 17/06/2012
    Kirstine 17/06/2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3207
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    558
    450
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2260
    0
    Overall
    "Enjoyable upmarket soap-opera"

    Though there are so many characters such that I wasn't always sure who was whom, I did enjoy this family saga set between the two World Wars. Jill Balcon does a fine job of narration injecting the characters with real life. The book admirably evokes the era coloured by the traumas of the First WW and the hopes that there wouldn't be another war in Europe.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heloise 09/04/2015
    Heloise 09/04/2015

    Academic. Historian. Wife, mother, grandma. Knitter, reader, gardener, cook. Australian.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Endearing"

    An introduction to the Cazalets and their, as yet, unremarkable lives. Lives lived in southern Britain in the late 1930s, a cocooned, safe, upper-middle class existence that seemed at times to invoke an Edwardian lifestyle rather than a modern one. A world where servants pandered, food was plentiful and excessive, the family dressed for dinner and children were obedient and deferential. Despite the comforts, life was simple for the young. A strangely hypnotic novel, splendid in its detail and sense of place.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth 26/05/2014
    Elizabeth 26/05/2014 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great story and beautifully read."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I loved this book and have gone on to read the other volumes. Jill Balcon is a superb narrator who acts out the book giving the characters different voices and accents etc. so it's like listening to a radio play than a book reading.

    It's quite a gentle story with a few shocking moments in it that take you by surprise.

    I liked the way Elizabeth Jane Howard explores all the different characters so you begin to understand them and can see how the family fits together. I felt transported back in time and found the way that people then conducted their relationships very interesting. I wished my grandmother was still alive to discuss it with as she would have been about 20 at the time this book was set.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Impossible to choose as there are so many great characters. Possibly Christopher. I liked his conscientious objector views and the continuous debate in his head as he challenged his opinions on life and war etc. I could pick almost any character though.


    Which character – as performed by Jill Balcon – was your favourite?

    Again, very hard to choose. Perhaps Sid? I loved the way Jill deepened her voice slightly for her character. Jill was also great at reading all the child parts.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Hugh was rushing to get to Home Farm for the birth of the twins. I felt quite panicked listening to that and very shocked about the cat. I was surprised that Radio 4 hadn't included this scene in their radio dramatisation.


    Any additional comments?

    I also have the paper copy of the book which has a family tree at the start of it which was very useful as I would have struggled to work out how all the characters fitted together without it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louisa Freshwater Bay, United Kingdom 07/04/2013
    Louisa Freshwater Bay, United Kingdom 07/04/2013 Member Since 2014

    Painter, jeweller, teacher. Passionate listener to audiobooks and reader of print books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    109
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    99
    56
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    32
    23
    Overall
    "A magnificent listening experience"

    A not to be missed listening experience. Jill Balcon's reading is faultless in accent, tone and rhythm. She brings all the characters to life and you just don't want to stop listening. I had already read the book when it was published and loved it, but coming again to the series through audio was an even better experience. Despite the many books available about life during the second world war, this is one of the most vivid and realistic. In some cases it is painful, but mostly it brilliantly describes the borningness of life without being boring itself and you are swept along as you follow the hopes and fears of Louise, Polly, Edward, Diana and the others - and there are four books - bliss.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kat UK 16/03/2016
    Kat UK 16/03/2016 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A good book, but....."

    A very enjoyable listen, but sometimes jumped from one set of characters to another and took a few seconds to catch on which characters we were with next. Worth a listen though!!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Price UK 11/05/2015
    M. Price UK 11/05/2015 Member Since 2015

    Barsetshire buff

    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    56
    29
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Story To Entrance You"

    Absolutely wonderful! This first episode of The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard deals with the years just approaching the Second World War. I t is a delightful period piece with a wonderful, varied, cast of characters. The story deals with the children of the family as well as the adults, and this makes the novel well rounded. You focus on different family members, each coping - or trying to cope - with their own problems, some serious, some apparently trivial. Jill Balcon is the perfect narrator for this novel, her wide range and talent gives a believable voice for each character. I cannot praise The Light Years highly enough!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pixie 02/08/2014
    pixie 02/08/2014 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    45
    45
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Family life"
    What made the experience of listening to The Light Years the most enjoyable?

    The subject matter, life before the war


    What did you like best about this story?

    The Characters, each slowly developing


    Have you listened to any of Jill Balcon’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No I haven't


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No...this is best kept to relaxation and listened to in chapters. There is alot to digest


    Any additional comments?

    A really good insight into the middle class family situation before the war. The begining can seem complicated but as you get familiar with the family it comes together well once the story gets under way. I loved the atmosphere the book delivered. An absorbing peek into a family that seems to have it all. Loved the narrator.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lily the Pink Norfolk, UK 06/02/2015
    Lily the Pink Norfolk, UK 06/02/2015 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Old fashioned"

    My mother loved this series but I found it slow and mostly uninteresting.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Ilana
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    25/01/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Age of Innocence"

    This is the first book of the Cazalet Chronicles, a family saga about the Cazalet family clan living very comfortably thanks to a family business—this prompting me to think of them henceforward as another set of Forsytes (see The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy), another family clan living comfortably from the fruit of their trade. It starts in the late 1930s while Europe is on the brink of WWII. Most of the actions takes place during two consecutive summer family vacations, when the whole clan are gathered at their Sussex family home. There are three generations of Cazalets, with spouses and their families plus the servants and various employees to keep track of, and while I usually have quite a bit of trouble remembering who is who when there are more than a handful of characters, this was more or less easily done here, as each of the characters is very well drawn and has a unique individual story.

    The children are busy at their games and worries; about going back to school and attendant bullying for the boys, while the girls are dreaming up their future career options given the minimal education they are offered; acting, being a nun, nursing are a few possibilities. Their elderly impoverished teacher with a face like a toad and a heart of gold was a personal favourite. Their fathers, three Cazalet siblings, are all veterans from WWI. The eldest is badly affected by his war wounds and suffers from debilitating headaches (how I empathized with him!), the second is an inveterate womanizer who descends into downright disgusting lechery, while the third and youngest (and comparatively poor) brother has married a very young girl who seems to offer nothing but her beauty, after tragically losing his first wife, and badly failing to establish his painting career. Their unmarried sister meanwhile is charged with caring for her elderly father who is slowly losing his eyesight but not ready to relinquish his post of command, while she is also involved in a chaste love affair more or less sanctioned by the family.

    These are innocent times, when the menace of oncoming war seems more like a fictional possibility than a real threat, though by the second summer, in 1938, when the German annexation of Czechoslovakia seems inevitable and before the signing of the Munich agreement, preparations for an assault are underway at the Cazalet compound just in case Chamberlain’s meeting with Hitler doesn’t go so well and London must be evacuated. All in all, a very satisfying piece of historical fiction seen through a modern writer’s eye, so that things which would have been left unsaid by a contemporary writer are here fully revealed. This very much brought to mind another favourite female British author’s work, The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley, which was also written in the late 20th century; it too is about a large family clan, with the story beginning during innocent pre-war summer holidays, here taking place in Cornwall. The fifth book in the Cazalet Chronicles was published recently and I will almost certainly make my way to it with time. Thanks to Suzanne and Heather on LibraryThing for strongly recommending this series of novels. I should also mention that the narration by Jill Balcon was delightful.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Margaret Darley
    Qld, Australia
    01/01/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Light Years to be better than the print version?

    No! I much prefer the print version


    How could the performance have been better?

    There is too much dynamic range - the reader is sometimes whisper quiet, so you turn up the volume and the next paragraph is too loud; this is very disruptive and annoying. The reader does not differentiate between the characters, so it's not easy to tell who is speaking.


    Any additional comments?

    I love the story but had to go to the print version to enjoy it, I have listened to many audio books but have not been so disappointed before.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Kate Rendham
    Ottawa, Canada
    24/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Memories of a time long past"

    A delightful family story in the years before the Second World War in Sussex, England. It is beautifully narrated bringing all the warmth of the family, friends and staff into an interesting, uncertain time when life hung suspended while the politicians tried in vain to prevent another war.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rsus
    12/06/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "love the story - not happy with narrator"
    Would you listen to The Light Years again? Why?

    Not sure -- was going to get the other titles in the trilogy but the narrator was so hard to understand that I hesitate to get the additional books.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Light Years?

    I just like the historical time period and the all of the family interactions.


    What aspect of Jill Balcon’s performance would you have changed?

    Accent wa way too strong so hard to understand. Also, seemed to slur words so that they ran together and were really difficult to understand.


    Any additional comments?

    Please do a narration with an english accent that is not so strong!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wendy
    CHANDLER, AZ, United States
    17/11/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I typically don't write reviews but...."
    Any additional comments?

    This book was well written & had clever wording for the reader to really feel like they are in the time period of the story, but that's the problem....no real story (or plot). I'm almost done with the book and it feels like it's one long set up for the 'real' story to start in book 2. I doubt I will chance it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • smith
    norwich, vt, United States
    19/09/11
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very little plot"

    A mish mosh of characters, very descriptive of the period, almost no plot. The kind of book one can stop listening to at any time, and wouldn't really care.

    4 of 13 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.