Elizabeth Jane Howard
Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923-2014) was an English novelist, best known for her tetralogy of novels known as the Cazalet Chronicles. Set in England just before, during and after World War II, two of the books were turned into BBC TV series: The Light Years and Marking Time.
Books by Elizabeth Jane Howard
“She draws from her own family story. It’s all true to life. She was born in the 1920s to a family that was affluent and well-connected, and totally, totally unhappy…The dialogue in these books is incredible. Especially the children, she writes children’s dialogue so acutely, so well…again, it’s the details…How people eat: whether someone passes the gravy or just pours it all onto their own plate. That can be as clear an indication of character as whether they were fascist or not, or whether they supported Chamberlain’s appeasement policy or not…With The Cazalet Chronicles, it’s the afterlife of lies and mistakes, that ripples through lives—their own, and their family members’…In a series of novels, there is opportunity for these things to breathe, to happen as if in real-time. It’s not compressed into a single novel. So you can see the distance between cause and consequence. As a result, it feels that much truer to life. Hilary Mantel described how the book charted the varying and repeating errors of this one family; I think that’s a good way to describe it.” Read more...
The best books on Family History
Thea Lenarduzzi, Journalist
“Howard is most famous for writing a loosely autobiographical set of novels called The Cazalet Chronicles, about a family during World War II and then post-war Sussex. I read the Cazalet Chronicles and then I read Slipstream, and it was fascinating to me how much she had drawn from her own life.” Read more...
The best books on Coping With Failure
Elizabeth Day, Memoirist
“I love the Cazalet books, and Marking Time is part of that series. I also loved the TV adaptation, which only ran for one series but was fabulously filmed and acted. This is the best book in the series. War is coming, and the Cazalet family are plunged into the situation. Like everyone else they have to deal with the start of the war, and the youngest son goes off to fight in Dunkirk…….It is steeped in authenticity. It all feels right. All the characters feel very real, because they were based on real people. I can’t think of another book which more vividly captures the mood at that time of an upper middle-class family on the cusp of war.” Read more...
Novels and Memoirs of World War II
James Holland, Military Historians & Veteran
Interviews where books by Elizabeth Jane Howard were recommended
Novels and Memoirs of World War II, recommended by James Holland
Historian and novelist James Holland talks us through some of his favourite memoirs and novels about the Second World War and explains his lifelong fascination with the global conflict.
The best books on Coping With Failure, recommended by Elizabeth Day
Elizabeth Day, author of How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learnt from Things Going Wrong, explains how the road to success truly is paved with failure—and why we must learn to deal with it better.
The best books on Family History, recommended by Thea Lenarduzzi
The story of a family never ends, says Thea Lenarduzzi—the literary critic and author of the prize-winning family memoir Dandelions: “It’s always evolving, rewriting itself, long after the protagonists are dead.” Here, she recommends five books on family history that illustrate the shapeshifting nature of this hard-to-pin-down subject, in which memories rarely tally with the written record.