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The Light Years (Cazalet Chronicle) by…
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The Light Years (Cazalet Chronicle) (original 1990; edition 1995)

by Elizabeth Jane Howard (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8584116,479 (4.01)130
Home Place, Sussex, 1937. The English family at home... For two unforgettable summers they gathered together, safe from the advancing storm clouds of war. In the heart of the Sussex countryside these were still sunlit days of childish games, lavish family meals and picnics on the beach. Three generations of the Cazalet family played out their lives - with their relatives, their children and their servants - and the fascinating triangle of their affairs...… (more)
Member:jhowell
Title:The Light Years (Cazalet Chronicle)
Authors:Elizabeth Jane Howard (Author)
Info:Washington Square Press (1995), Edition: Reprint, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction series, kindle

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The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard (1990)

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» See also 130 mentions

English (33)  Italian (5)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
(53) Oh, I loved this -- like reading 'Downton Abbey' which I dearly loved. I am just one of those anglophiles when it comes to history, literature, TV series set in Great Britain and this was no exception. The Cazalet's are an early 20th century noble family with servants post WW1 - it is a large family and we get to know them all ~ 10ish grandkids between the 3 families, and unmarried daughter, and The Brig and the Duchy, the patriarch and matriarch. This is the lead up until WW2 when the elder Cazalet sons who have gone to the War are busy raising their families and trying to put WW1 behind them. It is hard to really suss out plot - it is just life as the narrative breezily jumps from character to character without missing a beat. Most of the scene is during the summer holidays at the Cazalet ancestral home in the country - days at the beach, family squabbles, marital discord, pregnancy & childbirth, fierce parental love, crushes, petty jealousies, etc. . .

It is a delightful narrative full of poignant character sketches and finely drawn scenes that come alive in one's mind's eye - but certainly very east to read with simple, straightforward yet effective prose and traditional story-telling. I love Polly and her cat, I love Hugh, and enjoyed the charter of Ms Milliment as well, and the funeral for Bexford the jellyfish had me laughing out loud. . I would only take a star off because it seems a bit derivative of other things that have been written (or perhaps other things are derived from it - not quite sure when it was written) but it seems a bit unoriginal and it will likely blend into my mind with things like 'Downtown Abbey' and other multigenerational family sagas for instance 'The Forsyte Saga' jumps to mind.

But overall - Bravo! I very very rarely dive right into the next of a series. But this is just the type of novel I need at the moment - not really chick lit, but a nice period piece for an Anglophile with lots of human drama and fine characterization. I can't wait to see what happens to all the Cazalets next. ( )
  jhowell | Dec 2, 2019 |
This wonderful book is the first the series known as the Cazalet Chronicles.

The Cazalet family: Hugh, Edward, Rupert & unmarried sister Rachel all return each summer to their parents' home in Sussex for two months of games and relaxation (although Hugh & Edward work in London during the week.)

The cousins go on small adventures, we begin to know and understand the individual families & their members, as well as the family as a whole. (I used the provided family tree a lot for this first book.) Not a lot happens, but so much does.

I loved this gentle story. My dilemma: to read the rest of the set immediately, or string them out to make them last? (The author is deceased so there will be no more.)

Thanks so much to Joules Barnham at Northern Reader who drew my attention to this saga. ( )
  ParadisePorch | Aug 7, 2019 |
I read someone else's review that said something like, "It is a total waste of paper, unless you want to read about a family constantly taking baths." It was that moment that I expected I would love this book, and I did. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series and the continued day to day lives of the Cazalets. Baths and all. ( )
  Katie80 | Oct 8, 2018 |
The Cazalets are a trio of brothers — Hugh, Edward, and Rupert — along with their various wives and children. Hugh and Edward work in the family lumber business, while Rupert struggles to make ends meet as a schoolteacher and erstwhile painter. True to Tolstoy's famous words, each of their at least somewhat unhappy family units is unhappy in its own unique way. Hugh and his wife Sybil love each other deeply but are utterly incapable of telling the truth to each other, thus doomed to forever be doing things neither of them wants to do because each of them thinks the other does. Edward is a cad, a hound, who never met a woman he didn't want to bed, while his wife Viola (completely oblivious to Edward's dalliances) wonders why she gave up her life as a professional dancer for domestic drudgery. Rupert's still mourning his first wife, who died giving birth to their youngest, and trying to keep his children and his very young, very beautiful, very shallow second wife happy. And then there's Rachel, the unmarried sister who keeps house for their still-living parents.

The next generation of Cazalets have their own problems, from thwarted dreams of theatrical fame to bullying at public school to dealing with a stepmother who wishes you would just disappear. And lest we forget the elders, Cazalet Sr. and his wife are finding life tough going as well, as all of this family drama plays out against the faint drumbeats of the impending Second World War.

Whew! There is a lot going on here, and I didn't even mention the various intrigues and dramas that surround the servants. And yet, it never seemed too much and I found myself equally absorbed by nearly every character's storyline, which is rare. As you might expect in the first of five connected novels, there's a fair bit of scene-setting and character exposition to plow through, but the family tree and cast of characters at the front of the book got a good workout from me until I could finally keep them all straight.

With the combination of upstairs and downstairs stories along with the early 20th century setting, I couldn't help comparing the Cazalets to the Granthams of Downton Abbey, although a bit lower down on the social scale. The best thing I can think of to say about it is that all of the characters seemed like real people, with real joys and real concerns. I didn't like them all, but I understood them and recognized them for what they are. I will certainly be continuing with the series. ( )
1 vote rosalita | Sep 14, 2018 |
Fabulous family saga
By sally tarbox on 23 February 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
Long but utterly unputdownable family saga, set over the two years preceding World War 2.
Every summer, the well to do Cazelet family converge at their parents' Sussex home. Three sons, each with a very different family: eldest, Hugh, is still suffering the after-effects of WW1- his past rubs off on daughter Polly, panicking about another war.
Second son Edward is charming and a womanizer...unknown to his wife, who is bored with her life.
And youngest son, artist Rupert, who must decide whether to enter the family timber business, and cope with a demanding (and much younger) second wife.
Each has several children, again all vividly depicted as very different personalities. And then there's dutiful spinster sister Rachel, involved in a secret relationship with a woman; and the elderly parents, part of a different generation, and the numerous servants...
'Family sagas' can often be rather trashy and forgettable. This is stunningly written - I'm going to read the whole set. ( )
1 vote starbox | Feb 22, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Wat een geluk dat het eerste deel – Lichte Jaren – van deze prachtige, autobiografische serie over de Cazalets, geschreven door Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923 – 2014) dit jaar in het Nederlands is vertaald! Elizabeth Jane Howard is absoluut een getalenteerd schrijfster, die door middel van met name prachtige, uitgebreide beschrijvingen een hele familie in het post-Victoriaanse Engeland tot leven brengt. Opnieuw tot leven brengt, misschien wel, want de boekenserie is autobiografisch, gebaseerd op Howards eigen, welgestelde familie. Ze begon in 1982 aan dit uitgebreide werk. Het vijfde deel schreef ze op haar 90ste, een jaar voor haar dood in 2014. Het verhaal verscheen ook als dramaserie bij de BBC…lees verder >
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Jane Howardprimary authorall editionscalculated
Francescon, ManuelaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The day began at five to seven when the alarm clock (given to Phyllis by her mother when she started service) went off and on and on and on until she quenched it.
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