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The Light Years (Cazalet Chronicles #1)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  3,123 Ratings  ·  361 Reviews
In 1937, the coming war is only a distant cloud on Britain's horizon. As the Cazalet households prepare for their summer pilgrimage to the family estate in Sussex, readers meet Edward, in love with but by no means faithful to his wife Villy; Hugh, wounded in the Great War; Rupert, who worships his lovely child-bride Zoe; and Rachel, the spinster sister.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published July 1st 1995 by Washington Square Press (first published 1990)
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Peter Grimsdale
Oct 31, 2013 Peter Grimsdale rated it it was amazing
This was completely unexpected. I happened to hear some of the serialisation on Radio 4 and thought - hang on, this is really special and ordered the book. It's astonishingly good. I'm very interested in Britain before and during World War II so that was a major box ticked. EJH's recall of what is a fictioalised account of growing up through that time is exceptional. And what is also deeply refreshing is that she comes from a background that isn't at all literary and therefore it isn't laden wit ...more
Mar 14, 2013 John rated it did not like it
This is the first of a three volume series about the large, upper middle class Cazalet family and their throng of servants, friends, retainers, mistresses and others. You literally need a scorecard to keep track of everyone. The setting is London and rural Sussex in 1937 and 1938. World War II is looming large on the horizon. Normally, I love sagas of this ilk, such as Brideshead Revisited. But Howard, alas, is no Evelyn Waugh or E.M. Forster. She does do a good job of re-creating the vanished w ...more
Primo volume di una saga familiare ben costruita, che qualche volta perde un po’ la verve, ma che in generale è arguta e piacevole da leggere, soprattutto perché traccia un quadro molto vivido del periodo che ha preceduto la Seconda Guerra Mondiale e della quotidianità di una famiglia inglese appartenente alla borghesia medio-alta.

Penso proprio che mi sciropperò tutti e cinque i libri.
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Dec 28, 2016 BAM The Bibliomaniac rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, library
The first book in a series about the Cazalet family set in 1937 England, it's a delightful look at the interaction between extended kin. The women are irritatingly unselfish; the men, caught up in their own lives leaving the minutiae of household to the females. The children are quite proper and really seem to get along well.
I have to admit I've read out of order. I found book three at a used sale not knowing it was part of a series and just fell in love with the characters. I had to start with
Postcards from far away
Storie di una quasi ordinaria famiglia.

Sinceramente, avevo alte aspettative per questo libro e non sono stata delusa.
Inizio subito col dire che questa saga familiare non è tutto questo scoppio di momenti emozionanti o avvenimenti rocamboleschi che scatenano eventi a catena per tutte le 600 pagine.
Si tratta semplicemente della vita di una grande famiglia che si ritrova due volte l'anno nella casa delle vacanze situata nel Sussex, proprietà dei capostipiti Cazalet: William, detto il Generale e la
This book is the first of a series about the Cazalet family. Here we look at three generations - the grandparents, their three married sons and one unmarried daughter. The three sons have small children, young teenagers and more kids are on the way. The book focuses upon the life of the young cousins over the summers of 1937 and 1938 in Sussex, England. Games and intrigues and worries about the approaching war. The thoughts of the children are tangible and real. Jealousies and rivalries and pets ...more
Elena (Books & Reviews)
I started reading The Light Years right after I sat my M.A’s first exam and I chose the book because I thought I needed something more domestic and tranquil than the usual crime novel. My paperback edition made the book seem quite long and I thought it would take me ages to finish it, but Howards’ description of 1937′s everyday life and issues is as addictive as a mystery to be solved. The Light Years is the perfect mix between Mrs. Dalloway and Downton Abbey.

Although the book’s description cent
The Light Years (Cazalet Chronicles #1) by Elizabeth Jane Howard

fradio> R4
Series> #1 of 4
Winter 2013
under 500 ratings
pub 1990
Hist Fic>WWII

1/10 The Cazalet family gather for their annual summer holiday as war looms.
2/10 Edward escapes the family holiday to meet his mistress.
3/10 Sibyl goes into labour early, and Rachel is drafted in to help.
4/10 Louise's image of her father Edward is about to be shattered for good.
5/10 As Sid worries about the situ
May 09, 2013 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book in a saga that explores the impact of the changes that overtook Britain in the late twentieth century, The Light Years focuses on an extended upper-middle class family just before the outbreak of World War Two. Elizabeth Jane Howard has an unusual narrative technique in that the point of view is distributed more or less evenly over more than a dozen characters so that the story is brought to us in a series of snippets.

I found this unsatisfying in that no character had ownership o
Stumbled across this book at a used bookstore in NY. The second I saw the descriptors "upstairs, downstairs," I was hooked. Ever since Gosford Park, I've been fascinated by early 20th century landed gentry British customs. The calm, cultured, faintly ridiculous atmosphere of the "upstairs" where you dress for dinner, and the frenzied pace of the "downstairs," where cooks plan elaborate meals well in advance; maids scurry around the rooms before dawn to light fires, prepare tea, set out clothing; ...more
Feb 24, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e, historical-fiction
Definitely a women's book! A 1930s social history with delightful details of how the wealthy fictitious Cazalet family lived in the years just before WWII.

Splendid writing too, with many expressions and sayings my grandmother (who also lived in Sussex) was so fond of... Elizabeth Jane Howard gets the reader right into the head of each character (and there are rather a lot!) and the result is superb, despite the fact that there isn't really much actually going on.
Nov 20, 2015 Ophelinha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gripping, enthralling saga, swan song of the end of an era - an era in which good china and maids and drivers and butlers and country mansions gave the upper class - and the middle and lower class, reflecting their life - the illusion of an harmonic, ordered life, a time and space where beauty had the upper hand on war and death. Cannot wait to start the second volume.
Kate Bevan
Dec 27, 2013 Kate Bevan rated it it was amazing
I love this series, of which this is the first of five books: it's the pinnacle of Elizabeth Jane Howard's underrated but considerable achievement.
Dec 02, 2016 Mariachiara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Semplicemente innamorata. Ho sempre paura di leggere una saga familiare in quanto ho sempre il timore che i componenti della famiglia, dunque i vari punti di vista con il quale seguiamo la storia, non mi piacciano oppure non riesca ad entrarci in sintonia oppure ancora a provare empatia. Ho adorato infinitamente sia i personaggi, in particolare i più piccini della famiglia che suppongo seguiremo nel percorso di crescita attraverso gli altri volumi sia la scrittura spigliata e riflessiva dell'aut ...more
May 07, 2016 Wanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 2016
7 MAY 2016 - I received a courtesy copy of The Light Years from the publisher. I deeply appreciate this ecopy. I will begin reading The Light Years tomorrow.

13 MAY 2016 - review coming soon.

16 MAY 2016 - 4 out of 5 stars. The Light Years is the first in a five-part sage written about the Cazalet family.

I have always enjoyed becoming involved in a series into which I am able to immerse myself. I love learning about the daily minutiae of a family and The Cazalet Chronicles prove to be such a se
Aug 02, 2009 Jane rated it liked it
what a strange book this was. Lent to me by a friend, it wasn't something I'd ever have stumbled across by myself. Bursting at the seams with characters in an almost Dickensian way, there's no one in this big fat novel that doesn't get at least three or four lines told from their own point-of-view. So much of 'The Light Years' is a low-grade period piece - well told and all, but with really nothing special going on. But then every now and then there are flashes of incredible intensity, where you ...more
Mar 09, 2010 Leigh rated it it was amazing
My absolute favorite series of books (The Cazalet Chronicles) begins with The Light's 1937 and the story opens with many branches of the wealthy Cazalet family is headed to the grandparents' home in Sussex, in the country, for the summer. WWII is on the horizon but not yet a real worry. The Cazalet children consist of three brothers: Edward, who is a completely faithless husband to his wife Villy; Hugh, who was wounded in WW I and is devoted to his wife, Sybil; Rupert, who was widowe ...more
Premettendo che i miei giudizi sono leggermente severi, questo libro mi ha lasciata abbastanza indifferente, certo il modo in cui è scritto è veramente particolare, con mille punti di vista..anche dei bambini (mmmh non dico di averlo molto apprezzato) e con la descrizione costante della quotidianità, ma a mio personale parere non ho trovato le vicende così interessanti...così come i personaggi. Credo che per apprezzare l'opera vadano letti gli altri volumi, per avere un quadro più ampio...non so ...more
Feb 06, 2016 (P)Ila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Jane Howard, autrice inglese ampiamente apprezzata nel suo paese e portata alla luce in Italia con Il lungo sguardo, con questo primo volume delle Cazalet Chronicles mi ha conquistata.
Se nella precedente lettura lo stile mi aveva incuriosita, ero rimasta però dubbiosa circa l'opera nella sua interezza: trovai il libro a tratti complesso e difficile da seguire se non con molta concentrazione, intenso ma troppo pomposo.
Stessa cosa però non si può dire per Gli anni della leggerezza, prim
Oct 12, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Peter Thorneycroft
Shelves: own, fiction

I picked this up at a sidewalk sale (used) and reflected quickly that I would probably hate it. Actually, it was a pretty good read.

It's 1937, and three generations are gathering to spend the summer at the Sussex estate of "the Brig" and "the Duchy" Cazalet. There are the three 30-something sons: Hugh, badly injured in WWI, Edward, a handsome philanderer, and Rupert, an aspiring artist married to the much younger, empty-headed Zoe. Their sister is Rachel, an asexual lesbian spinster. Their wives
Mar 31, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing
The Light Years is the first of series of five novels (The Cazalet Chronicles), detailing the experiences of an upper middle class family in Britain during WWII and after. The book has many characters (and, thankfully, a family tree at the front of the book, to help with who's who). It's written almost like diary entries a great deal of the time, from many of the characters points of view - even the servants - and, increasingly, as the books go on, from some of the childrens' perspective (as the ...more
Daisy Goodwin
Sep 11, 2014 Daisy Goodwin rated it it was amazing
In my view, this is the best of the Cazalet novels, and the bar is set pretty high. There is a grittiness to this book which undercuts the occasional cosiness. Clary one of the young girl characters decides that when she grows up she will write about all the things that other writers leave out, periods, having babies, going to the lavatory, and sex. Ejh writes about all these things but she also is a great and subtle creator of character. The depiction of Zoe the much younger second wife of one ...more
Feb 18, 2014 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed opinions of this novel. While I enjoyed the fastidious study of the family Cazleat and those around them, and the teeny tiny details that seemed so superfluous but actually ensured that you knew the characters completely and understood their vices, worries and dreams. There wasn't really an overarching plot as such, but each family and each character had their own individual stories which made a generally good book, Even if there seemed no real point to any of it.

I think that was my
Jun 03, 2016 Monica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Per me le stelline sarebbero 3 e mezzo.
Sicuramente una lettura piacevole e scorrevole.
Mi chiedo se nei prossimi volumi verranno ripresi e affrontati due episodi piuttosto importanti e disturbanti, che in questo volume sono stati lasciati a mezz'aria, a mio avviso.
Sep 30, 2016 Suni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, ebook, 1990s, ed-fazi, preferiti
Io questo libro non l'ho letto: ci sono precipitata dentro.
E anche se è stata un'estate un po' così e tra impegni e stanchezza ho protratto a lungo la lettura delle seicento pagine del primo capitolo della saga della famiglia Cazalet, quando riprendevo a leggere ero sempre al punto, sintonizzata, come se avessi interrotto la lettura mezz'ora prima, non di più.
Perché mi macinavano di continuo in testa le piccole storie e le grandi passioni dei personaggi, che sono davvero tanti ma tutti definiti,
Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
2.75 stars.

As a teenager, I really really enjoyed these books. My mum loved them and somehow got me onto them, and I ended up completely engrossed in the characters. Fast forward 15 years and I'm like "..............this book is kind of a hot mess".

This series is basically Downton Abbey but during World War II. This first one is set during the summers of 1937 and 1938, so it's really the lead up to war and setting the scene as far as family dynamics and family relationships are concerned.

I really liked this but I'm a bit unsure quite why! It feels deceptively slow paced and the book covers only a relatively short period in the late 1930s. That said it packs a lot in (& very little of it is very cheerful) chilly loveless marriages, pre-war attitudes to sex, child abuse, forbidden and unacknowledged lesbian relationships ..... but it is beautifully written and the characters really come alive even if often they are not very appealing.
Here's another of the WWII epic drama genre (think, Rosamund Pilcher)- irresistible. A thorough and convincing display of social classes in the years just prior to WWII and a detailed look at the lives of the privileged British upper crust during this era. An engaging story and characters whose lives you will want to follow as you read the other novels in the series.
Aug 20, 2014 Mana marked it as adandoned  ·  review of another edition
Abandoned at page number whatever.

Boring, pointless and could not read more than 10 pages at any one time. Decided to pull the plug.

Went in thinking it would be like Downton Abbey + Upstairs Downstairs but NAH. This book is the definition of mediocre-lackluster writing, slow plot. Had to stop, back to the library you go Howard.
Cristina - Athenae Noctua
Un romanzo che ha l'ampio respiro della saga familiare, un libro ben scritto che coinvolge dalla prima all'ultima pagina lasciandoci scivolare nelle atmosfere dell'Inghilterra degli anni '30.
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Elizabeth Jane Howard, CBE, was an English novelist. She was an actress and a model before becoming a novelist. In 1951, she won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for her first novel, The Beautiful Visit. Six further novels followed, before she embarked on her best known work, a four novel family saga (i.e., The Cazalet Chronicles) set in wartime Britain. The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, and ...more
More about Elizabeth Jane Howard...

Other Books in the Series

Cazalet Chronicles (5 books)
  • Marking Time
  • Confusion
  • Casting Off
  • All Change

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