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Slipstream: A Memoir

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  354 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Born in London in 1923, Elizabeth Jane Howard was privately educated at home, moving on to short-lived careers as an actress and model, before writing her first acclaimed novel, The Beautiful Visit, in 1950. She has written twelve highly regarded novels, most recently Falling . Her Cazalet Chronicles have become established as modern classics and were recently filmed by th ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published June 6th 2003 by Macmillan (first published October 25th 2002)
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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  354 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Elizabeth Jane Howard (EJH), one of my favorite writers, is someone truly deserving of wider recognition for her extraordinary literary talent. With this memoir, she has shown herself to be unflinchingly honest about herself, her family, friends and acquaintances, as well as life as she came to know it. Indeed, the reason for EJH penning this memoir with the title "Slipstream" is because, as she states plainly to the reader, "I feel as though I have lived most of my life in the slipstream of exp ...more
Claire Fuller
This was absolutely fascinating, more so because I could see the autobiographical parts of her novels that I've read (I think I've still got about four to read). This memoir covers many years, lots of people (and many writers), affairs, marriages, and houses. She must have caused the end of lots of people's marriages, but she doesn't comment on that - her biggest regret seemed to be how she brought up (or didn't bring up), her only daughter.
It was so readable, despite the huge cast. Sometimes I
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
EJH is not kind to herself in this memoir, which makes for painful but gripping reading and reveals that almost everything in the Cazalets is autobiographical. Unloved by her mother, married too young, neglectful of her own daughter and repeatedly unfaithful - all of this is laid bare. The first three quarters are more compelling than the final section as once she has separated from Kingsley Amis, the books becomes a list of house renovations and friends who have been kind to her in her old age, ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed it. It made me want to re-read her books just to see how much of herself she put in them.
Jane Louis-Wood
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a very honest account of her life and awful romantic choices. I was struck several times by the thought that if she had been less beautiful or more arrogant she would have been much happier, as either change would have deflected the attention of the self-absorbed, curiously infantile men she fell for (I'd have suffocated Kingsley Amis with a pillow, very slowly).
Kate Millin
Feb 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Born in London in 1923, Elizabeth Jane Howard was privately educated at home, moving on to short-lived careers as an actress and model, before writing her first acclaimed novel, "The Beautiful Visit", in 1950. She has written 12 highly regarded novels, most recently "Falling". Her Cazalet Chronicles have become established as modern classics and have been filmed by the BBC. She has been married three times - firstly to Peter Scott, the naturalist and son of Captain Scott, and most famously and t ...more
Jun 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, read-in-2008
Elizabeth Jane Howard. Last year I read her four-volume set of novels about the Cazalet family, set during WWII England. This is a memoir by their author, and I liked it a lot. She was an actress for a while, married a much older man, divorced him, and wrote and edited books and did a lot of odd jobs while trying to figure out her life. She had three unhappy marriages; she felt she was never first in anyone’s life, and she had a daughter but regretted not being close to her because she was raise ...more
Lyndsy Spence
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this ages ago and what has always stood out for me is how hyper-critical EJH is of herself. As such, she paints herself as an unpleasant character, which from listening to her on the radio, I can judge that she is not. Now that I've read The Cazalet Chronicles, I'd like to re-read her memoirs as she poured a lot of her personal life and family into the trilogy. As far as characterizations go, EJH is Louise Cazalet. Reminiscent of Nancy Mitford in a way.
Jun 23, 2011 rated it did not like it
Unfortunately, I tried to read this, but thought it paled into nothing by comparison with the Cazalet Chronicles novels. I gave up quite quickly. The fiction was better!
Beth Bonini
May 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read Elizabeth Jane Howard's memoir directly after finishing her Cazalet Chronicles, and it was interesting to discover the many parallels between her own life and her "fictional" work. I was somewhat surprised to discover that Howard is actually Louise in the books. I had thought she was Clary -- the writer. It is perplexing, in a way, because Louise is the most opaque and unlikable of the three female leads in the Chronicles. And yet, Howard describes herself as someone with little self-know ...more
Ali Williams
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
On the 2nd January, Elizabeth Jane Howard died. 90 years old, and having brought out yet another novel in April last year, she was renowned for being vivacious, sexually liberated and approaching her craft with humility and bemusement.

Having won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for her debut novel in 1953, she went on to write novels reminiscent of Austen in both their tone and incredible depiction of everyday female characters.

Slipstream - an autobiography that is full of heartwarming and heartwre
Angela Buckley
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read the whole set of the Cazalet Chronicles last summer and so I was very keen to read about their author, Elizabeth Jane Howard. I was surprised at how similar aspects of her life were to her fictional world and it was fascinating to work out the links between the characters in her memory and in her books. I recognised some of them immediately and it allowed me to indulge further in the Cazalet household. Howard certainly had an extraordinary life and she was quite honest about her shortcomi ...more
Janet Wolkoff
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an extraordinary memoir. The writing is gorgeous. The life is presented so honestly the reader feels she is living it along with the author. This is an inside look at the struggles and perseverance required to be a writer, especially when an active life of family and friends go along with it. Elizabeth Howard was prolific and ultimately very successful financially. However, nothing came to her easily and she suffered plenty. She was married and divorced three times along with, so it seem ...more
I knew very little about Elizabeth Jane Howard before starting this book, but I enjoyed it very much. It's primarily the story of her life: her childhood, her relationships and marriages (including marriages to Peter Scott and Kinglsey Amis), and her struggle to gain sufficient independence, confidence and income to write. There's comparatively little about the process of writing her books, but it's hard not to like an author who is so candid about her failings, nor a book in which Daniel Day Le ...more
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, english
Fascinating. Elizabeth Howard made more than the usual amount of mistakes in her life. Most of those can be blamed on an unfit mother that did her best to not educate and emotionally cripple her daughter from an early age. Hard to comprehend why she took her mother in and cared for her, at the end. A case of Stockholm syndrome, perhaps.

It appears that the 'Cazalet Chronicles' are mostly autobiographical.
Austen to Zafón
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
After reading the engrossing and well-written Cazalet series, which is the saga of a family before, during, and after WWII, I wanted to know more about the author. I enjoyed reading about her own life, which she used as a model for the series.
Jun 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Ms Howard has has a very interesting & varied life. A good read.
May 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Sep 02, 2008 rated it liked it
I had no idea she was married to Kingsley Amis! And from what it seems...that was no prize. Too bad. I really liked Lucky Jim.
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Not fiction, but EJH's memoir and a lovely book, pure pleasure to read.
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-books
I have loved the books of Elizabeth Jane Howard and these memoirs are as interesting and beautifully written as the novels.

Elizabeth Jane Howard was born in 1923 and died in her sleep age 90 in 2013. She was born into a comfortable middle class family but with a cold unloving mother and a handsome glamorous father whose relationship with his only daughter became sexually abusive. The extent of this is kept vague. She remained loyal to him although she showed a confusion of sexual boundaries all
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really fascinating autobiography by Elizabeth Jane Howard, author of many novels including the Cazalet Chronicles, which I love and reread often. Turns out they were based on her family and friends all of whom appear in these pages. She led a privileged life in terms of background and upbringing and knew everyone in social and literary circles so at one level the book is a lovely wallow in gossip and nostalgia. But it isn't really that. Her parents were deeply flawed, her father abused her and ...more
The Library Lady
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-biography
I am a big fan of Jane (the name she went by) Howard's Cazalet books, and it was interesting to see how much of her own life she put into her alter ego Louise, and that part of the Cazalet family. But Louise's part of the family always came off as unlikable, and while I could see WHY both Howard and Louise were the way they were, it didn't make me like either of them better. And it was especially disappointing that she mentions writing the Cazalet books, but doesn't discuss them, just mentions t ...more
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful, very honest memoir, that kept me up most of the night until I'd finished reading it. There's a gossipy interest (the marriages with Kingsley Amis, Peter Scott -- the naturalist/ artist, affairs with Wayland Young, Laurie Lee, Koestler, and others) but more interesting, a determined honesty about herself. The lifelong vulnerability allied to acute self-analysis is at times very touching. She does have a long stint in therapy, including Group Therapy. It's also very well-written. High ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it liked it
This has taken me a long time to read as I haven't read it continuously.

Elizabeth Jane Howard has shown a growing self- awareness. She has displayed an honesty about her responses to her bereavements & her other experiences of loss, like failed marriages. By the end of her memoir she seemed to have come to terms with herself.

She has survived her various vicissitudes and is still writing,through the services of an amanuensis. On 23March this year Elizabeth Jane Howard celebrated her 90th Birt
Janet Bishop
Mar 08, 2016 rated it liked it
I wanted to read this for ages to see what Elizabeth Jane Howard was like in real life . I'd read and much enjoyed the Cazalat books ,unfortunately this was really hard going as her personal life seemed to be such a struggle at times especially her relationship with her daughter her husbands and her many lovers on a more positive note she made many loyal friends and seem to be more relaxed with them ! It was quite lengthy too and quite boring at times ! I couldn't believe that in her daughters y ...more
Abigail Faulkner
Jul 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Having read the Cazalet chronicles (twice!) is was interesting to read Howard's memoir. Though the rush of names and party descriptions blur at times, learning more about her life (certainly fodder for her novels) and her gradual emotional maturity was ultimately worth the read.
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fascinating memoir. How tragic and poignant that her mother, as well as successive husbands and lovers, made her downplay her talent and place the men in her life above her own needs and her daughter's.
Jane Gregg
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have slowly savoured this beautifully constructed and written memoir by the immortal Elizabeth Howard. I did not want it to end.
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-authors
I'm a big fan of hers, so I enjoyed this autobiography. She hung out with basically every major literary figure of the mid-twentieth century (she was married to Kingsley Amis).
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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