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Elizabeth Jane Howard Audiobook

Elizabeth Jane Howard: A Dangerous Innocence

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Publisher's Summary

Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923-2014) wrote brilliant novels about what love can do to people, but in her own life the lasting relationship she sought so ardently always eluded her. She grew up yearning to be an actress, but when that ambition was thwarted by marriage and the war, she turned to fiction.

Her first novel, The Beautiful Visit, won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize - she went on to write 14 more, of which the best-loved were the five volumes of The Cazalet Chronicle.

Following her divorce from her first husband, the celebrated naturalist Peter Scott, Jane embarked on a string of high-profile affairs with Cecil Day-Lewis, Arthur Koestler and Laurie Lee, which turned her into a literary femme fatale. Yet the image of a sophisticated woman hid a romantic innocence which clouded her emotional judgment. She was nearing the end of a disastrous second marriage when she met Kingsley Amis, and for a few years they were a brilliant and glamorous couple - until that marriage too disintegrated. She settled in Suffolk, where she wrote and entertained friends, but her turbulent love life was not over yet. In her early 70s, Jane fell for a con man. His unmasking was the final disillusion and inspired one of her most powerful novels, Falling.

Artemis Cooper interviewed Jane several times in Suffolk. She also talked extensively to her family, friends and contemporaries and had access to all her papers. Her biography explores a woman trying to make sense of her life through her writing as well as illuminating the literary world in which she lived.

©2016 Artemis Cooper (P)2016 John Murray Press

What Members Say

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Performance
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  •  
    DartmoorDiva Dartmoor 15/02/2017
    DartmoorDiva Dartmoor 15/02/2017

    Dartmoor Scribbler

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    "Fascinating"

    An absolutely fascinating book. Eleanor Bron is a fine actress, but I found her narration difficult. It was as if the microphone was too close to her mouth, I could hear ever little sound from swallowing to lip licking etc. Found it really off-putting.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Trevor 10/01/2017
    Trevor 10/01/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "The Thinking Man's Courtesan?"

    I have never read any of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novels but she has cropped up in a number of books that I have read including those concerning Tom Rolt, Robert Aickman and the early days of the Inland Waterways Association as well as Martin Amis’s memoir "Experience".

    What seems to have struck everybody about EJH was her physical beauty. I have never been able to see this but obviously photographs do not do her justice as so many people were struck by it. Great beauty can be a curse as well as a blessing and, coupled with moral ambivalence can, as in her case, be very damaging, not least to its possessor.

    It is perhaps unfair to call her sexually voracious but she does not seem to have done much to resist the advances of a good many men within the literary and intellectual circles in which she moved – even if they happened to be married to one of her friends!

    The book gives Eleanor Bron little scope for anything but a fairly routine reading and this made me wonder whether audiobooks are really the best vehicle for biography? Great for novels but in this case I greatly missed being able to refer to photographs and, particularly, an index.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fiona 13/10/2016
    Fiona 13/10/2016
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    "Thoroughly gripping"

    I've read all EJH's books and have always found her intriguing. This biography is superb and so delightfully read by Eleanor Bron. I highly recommend it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    16/09/2017
    16/09/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "In depth, enormously enjoyable biography."

    Artemis Cooper gives a delightful and generous insight into all aspects of Elizabeth Jane Howard's interesting life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mrs B. 10/08/2017
    Mrs B. 10/08/2017 Member Since 2016
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    "Quality"

    I found the recording crackled quite a lot in places but I pushed by the distraction

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Melton Mowbray, United Kingdom 24/07/2017
    Rebecca Melton Mowbray, United Kingdom 24/07/2017 Member Since 2017
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    "A life story well told and well narrated"

    I have read most of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novels and found all of them well written, intricately put together, incredibly funny and enjoy the way in which Howard has the skill to describe the complexity of relationships. Artemis Cooper’s biography has led me to believe that Howard wrote Novels that were based almost identically on Howard's life experience. An incredibly sensitive, thoughtful and well researched biography that I would recommend to anyone to read. The book left me slightly disappointed in Howard herself as a person. I so wanted her to be a woman full of confidence in herself as a woman and a writer and she was not.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela 25/05/2017
    Pamela 25/05/2017 Member Since 2014
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    "Looking For Love"

    If you listened to The Cazalets, as I did ((several times, as it happens), then this biography of the author Elizabeth Jane Howard, is indispensable. Told with both sympathy and candour, we are taken through the life and times of this remarkable, supremely gifted woman. Today I think she would be classed as a screaming nymphomaniac, but this book succeeds in convincing us that, following a loveless childhood, she was both 'used and abused' by husbands and lovers, often neglecting a brilliant career because of their demands. This pathetic search for love led her into making many sacrifices, particularly during her marriage to Kingsley Amis.

    I enjoyed this well-written, well-read account of an amazing life, and especially as it gives us the real-life backdrop to the many books she wrote.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    gmb 02/01/2017
    gmb 02/01/2017 Member Since 2012
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    "Elizabeth Jane Howard"

    A superb biography and beautifully read by Eleanor Bron. I really didn't want it to end. What better accolade for a book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Kate Rendham
    Ottawa, Canada
    25/09/16
    Overall
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    Story
    "A rather depressing life"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    You cannot change a book that is about a person whose life has all the promise of an early summer morning, with the sun rising above the horizon with its warm glow, only to find that the promise is broken and it rains all day.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I have read most of Elizabeth Jane Howard's books and loved theml, well written, interesting characters well portrayed but never dreamt that the person behind the book had a tragic love life that rambles on from one affair after another, that makes in the end for dull reading.


    Have you listened to any of Eleanor Bron’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Do you think Elizabeth Jane Howard needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I found this book quite depressing and her love affairs tedious. Is there something missing that another book might enlighten us with her life.


    Any additional comments?

    I was full of hope when I began this book but became bored with her tedious love life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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