“ALL CHANGE” is one of those novels that reveals a rich, colorful, and vivid canvas studded with a variety of interesting, complex, and compelling cha“ALL CHANGE” is one of those novels that reveals a rich, colorful, and vivid canvas studded with a variety of interesting, complex, and compelling characters whose lives tug at the heart, bring out ripples of ticklish laughter, and captures the reader’s interest. It is the fifth novel in The Cazalet Chronicles, which are set in Britain and span from the 1930s to the 1950s.
The novel begins with the death, in the late spring of 1956, of 'the Duchy', who, at 89, was the matriarch of the Cazalets. Her daughter, Rachel, was at her side, as ever faithful, steadfast, loving, supportive, and wholly unselfish. Her brothers --- Hugh, Edward, and Rupert (varying in age from mid to late 50s) --- along with their families (many of whom will be familiar to readers of the previous 4 novels in the series) are caught up in a series of challenges and jarring changes in their lives in a world in which they feel woefully ill-equipped to live and thrive. Rachel, too, is faced with difficulties in her relationship with the love of her life, and with the possible loss of all that she has held dear. Elizabeth Jane Howard is a fantastic writer who knows how to make a word, a phrase, or a paragraph resonate with the reader in each chapter (which is named for a specific character or characters and serves to shed a special focus on the person or persons it highlights).
Once the reader becomes immersed in “ALL CHANGE”, he/she won’t want to leave. The lives of the people it relates become real and tangible. Indeed, for all its 592 pages, I fairly raced through this novel, never feeling bored or bogged down by minutae or tiresome details.
The Cazalets are people that I came to deeply care about in the 11 years I’ve known them. And now that I’ve finished reading “ALL CHANGE”, I feel utterly bereft. Elizabeth Jane Howard passed away last January. So, there will be no more Cazalet novels. While this causes me sadness and frustration --- because I would have loved to see many of the younger characters mature and flower in future decades --- I am grateful to have had the pleasure of this gift which Elizabeth Jane Howard has left us as her literary legacy. ...more
"Falling" is not only a novel that delves into the anatomy of a seduction. It is also masterful in that it gives the reader access into both the inner"Falling" is not only a novel that delves into the anatomy of a seduction. It is also masterful in that it gives the reader access into both the inner and outer lives of the two people involved: Henry Kent and Daisy Langrish. Elizabeth Jane Howard fleshes them out with the skill that Vermeer, Goya, Manet, and John Singer Sargent showed to such fine effect on canvas.
Henry, the son of a gardener who never showed him love, learned to be resourceful early in life by trusting to his own wits. He developed a proficiency for discerning the emotional states of women --- preferably ones with wealth and status --- and exploiting them for his own benefit. He had this charm and savoir faire, which he was not abash to speak of, from time to time, with the reader. (The author has most chapters titled either "Henry" or "Daisy", so the reader always knows who is occupying center stage.)
Daisy, who grew up with an aunt ("Jess") who gave her unselfish and unconditional love, had 2 failed marriages, and had turned to playwriting (and scriptwriting) for solace and as a way of making a livelihood for her and her daughter. Eventually, Daisy's work became her life. She learned to be self-sufficient and to view trust as a weakness. So when Henry first approached her at her country cottage about doing some gardening work for her, she was wary. But from the bleakness of an English winter to the warmth of the following summer, he steadily (not minding a few missteps, which he quickly covered up) worked his way into Daisy's heart and affections.
What is remarkable about the development of Daisy's and Henry's relationship over time is how subtly and cleverly it unfolds. The reader can see both sides clearly and make up his/her mind about Henry and Daisy. Here's an example from what Daisy herself had to say after she has been all but won over to Henry:
"Am I in love? It is three weeks now since we went to bed; we have been lovers for twenty-one days and nights. He has continued to love me with the same wholehearted emotion and kindness and I have graduated from what I, somewhat defensively, described as some sort of old virgin to what he has described as a normal sensual woman for whom sex has become a joyous necessity. Indeed, I think I have become more sexual than he, but when I said this to him, he laughed and said it was because I had been starved for so long. ‘Not just of sex,’ he had added, ‘but of everything that goes with it. My greatest pleasure is giving you pleasure.’
“I am afraid that I do not give him enough back, but I have noticed that he often makes me want him and then withholds his favours --- teases me --- and that he certainly enjoys that. Sometimes he starts that game in the afternoon and then we go upstairs, but more often he deliberately excites me hours before he will take me to bed. I have begun to enjoy this game. It is wonderful to want him and to have no shame, no self-conscious reservations at all. ‘You trust me now, don’t you?’ he said yesterday. And I do. Even when he hurt me a little at the beginning, he was so aware of it and so tender… Those are the moments when I do feel love for him.” (pp. 300-301)
Henry, all through the novel, shows how calculating and cunning he can be, showing how attuned he can be to a woman's wants and needs once he knows that she has become susceptible to his shows of care, patience, and his apparently inexhaustible well of kindness and understanding:
"She was silent all the way back, and I was content to savour the salt of her tears from her mouth. I was light-headed with the exhilaration of that first kiss --- are not all first kisses unlike any others? --- and the ceertainty that I was on the brink of achieving all that I had schemed and dreamed about for so long.
"This was right. That night, she invited me into her bed." (p. 274)
Talk about a smooth operator!
To find out what happens between Henry and Daisy, I invite you now reading this review to take the plunge and see what ensues. So, hold on tight, because you're going to be in for quite a rocky ride.