by Elizabeth Jane Howard (Pan Macmillan, RRP $30):
The fact that this is No 5 in family saga The Cazalet Chronicles probably speaks for itself. In fact, Elizabeth Jane Howard was awarded a CBE in 2002, the same year her autobiography was published, and is the author of 14 highly acclaimed novels.
This instalment starts in 1956 and chronicles continuing Cazalet fortunes to the end of 1958. The family have all but totally recovered from the latest war and are now facing the bankruptcy of their timber business.
That’s pretty much it.
There’s a two-page foreword that helps new readers catch up with what has happened so far in the saga, plus a Cazalet family tree and a character list.
I was very glad about these as I frequently had to refer back to check who was who and how they related to the other.
There are so many characters that some are treated superficially at best. Others are more well-rounded.
I did not think this novel had the substance of other sagas that I have read but perhaps this was because I was a new reader, not already familiar with The Cazalet Chronicles. It is a kind of tying of ends but definitely lends itself to another instalment if one is required by the reading public.
Despite some heavy themes, it is light reading; not a page turner but well written and pleasant enough to pick up to continue with.