The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted a barely discernible theme in my November reading. November was not my month – I spent five days in hospital after rupturing my appendix (0/10, would not recommend) and then had a lengthy recovery period. So all bets were off when it came to reading, and I decided to pick up just exactly whatever I was in the mood for. Which turned out to be one absolutely stunning 2022 proof, and the remaining four Cazalet Chronicles novels, which I began rereading earlier this year. I have no regrets – all five of these books were a joy and a balm.
Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook (2022)
This book is going to be HUGE next year – it’s like a rawer, grittier Crawdads, with a fantastic protagonist and a story that whizzes along. You can read my full review here – I’ll be raving about this one A LOT, and I’m not even sorry.
Marking Time by Elizabeth Jane Howard (1991)
The second instalment in the Cazalet Chronicles series covers the early years of World War II and is just as beautifully written as the first. The characters we met in The Light Years now find themselves up against new, unforeseen challenges, and the way Howard allows each of them to develop in her slowly unfolding narrative is a masterclass in storytelling.
Confusion by Elizabeth Jane Howard (1993)
The third instalment in the series sees the characters in the thick of the long, dreary war years. My favourite relationship in the book, the friendship between Polly and Clary, suffers a blow, but it is so realistic and well done that I’ll allow it! I love the way this book weaves together the fragmented stories of the different characters.
Casting Off by Elizabeth Jane Howard (1995)
The penultimate book sees the Cazalets entering a brave new world after the end of the war – much of what defined their family is no longer relevant in this more modern age, and it feels very much like an era has come to an end. But there are still plenty of twists and turns for the characters, and it is wonderful to see the ones we met as children becoming adults with full lives of their own.
All Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard (2012)
The final book, All Change, is one that I never actually got around to reading the first time round (which I now realise is because I read my Mum’s copies, and it hadn’t come out by the time I left home!) – so I was excited to see how it would all wrap up for these characters I’d come to know so well. On the whole, I thought it was a fitting end to the series, with one or two slight reservations about a couple of plot points. It’s a brilliant achievement, however, to have written five novels about a set of characters that is so engrossing and moving and representative of the time its set – this won’t be my last visit to the Cazalet family.
So there you have it – not hugely varied, but the absolute definition of comfort reading! I have really been reminded this year what a solace reading can be, how important books are to me, and how, from time to time, I need to forget the real world (including the self-imposed deadline pressure of book blogging and ARCs) and just immerse myself in a damn good book.