Beth Bonini's Reviews > Marking Time

Marking Time by Elizabeth Jane Howard
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's review
Feb 26, 2011

really liked it
Read in February, 2011

The first novel in the Cazalet Chronicles captured -- and held -- my interest, but it was almost too sprawling. I didn't mind that there were so many characters, but I didn't need the story to be told from so many points-of-view. I approved, then, of how Howard starts narrowing her family saga to largely concentrate on the three adolescent girls of the family: Louise, Polly and Clary.

This novel covers the first years of the war, and the reader is uncomfortably aware of what a really long haul it is going to be. These three protagonists will move from childhood to adulthood before the war is over. There are some really moving passages in this novel, and I find some of the characters truly heroic -- particularly the girls' teacher, Miss Milliment. She is so poor, and her situation is rather desperate -- but she is also so wise and brave. She is a good counterpart to the girls' mothers -- who are all preoccupied in their own ways. It is interesting to me that all three girls, for different reasons, feel that their mothers do not love them or perhaps care for them in quite the same way as they do their other children. (Is the mother/daughter conflict in adolescence almost necessary . . . or at least unavoidable?) Although the book is very much "of its period" -- and of course, that is one of the reasons why I am so interested by it -- it also seems so realistic. Howard is emotionally perceptive and an outstanding observer of detail.

I'm anxious to move onto the third novel . . . but I had to order it from interlibrary loan. I'm waiting, then, impatiently.
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03/14/2016 marked as: read

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