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The second book in the landmark Cazalet Chronicles, previously a BBC radio and TV series. As war breaks out in Britain, Marking Time follows a family wondering if their lives will ever return to normal.
Elizabeth Jane Howard is the author of fourteen highly acclaimed novels, most recently Love All. The Cazalet Chronicles - The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion and Casting Off - have become established as modern classics and were adapted for a major BBC television series. In 2002 Macmillan published her autobiography, Slipstream. In that same year she was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
Readers of The Light Years , Howard's earlier novel about the numerous members of the upper-class Cazalet family, their servants, friends and relatives, will find satisfaction in this well-written sequel. In the summer of 1939, Britain has entered WW II, and the nine young Cazalet cousins are gathered for the duration under the rural Sussex roof of their grandparents, the indomitable Brig and his wife, Duchy. The appealing characters engage in a series of interrelated plots and subplots, and each family unit acts out a personal drama against the ever-present backdrop of the war. The children, especially the three older girls (from whose viewpoints much of the narrative is told), are particularly well defined; they are perceptive, funny and brave as they mark time toward adulthood, a state they long to achieve despite the obvious unhappiness and uncertainties of the adults around them. Momentous events may be occurring on a worldwide scale, but the Cazalets cling valiantly to a rigid daily routine and a stiff-upper-lip mentality. Whether describing the backbreaking labor required to run a large house during the war years or examining the feelings of a young girl's growing awareness of her father's infidelities, Howard captures the moment with penetrating accuracy. Perhaps the book has too many minor themes and characters, but the reader of multi-generational sagas will come away with a real knowledge of a particular time and place, and a desire to know what lies ahead for the Cazalets. (Aug.)
As this second volume of the ``Cazalet Chronicle'' (after The Light Years , LJ 8/1/90) opens in September 1939, the Cazalet family prepares for war. Three Cazalet cousins--Louise, Polly, and Clary--are so eager to shed the trappings of childhood that they view the war from a different perspective than their more experienced parents. Howard successfully presents these differing images in an atmosphere steeped in period detail, keeping the central focus on the young girls' frustrations and disappointments. Her saga offers an engrossing look at a unique period of history as experienced by a ``typical'' English middle-class family whose shared adventures are engaging, sometimes heroic, and always authentic. Recommended.-- Lydia Burruel Johnson, Mesa P.L., Ariz.