As promised here is a review of my latest read. I finished this book yesterday, progress had slowed as I’m back at work but still read it in less than a week which is pretty good given how busy I am.
So, I tend to initially be attracted to how a book looks and this cover is very pretty and caught my eye in the store. I then go for the blurb and will read the first two pages of chapters one and two. If it still has me hooked by this point it’s a ‘keeper’. This is the first of five books in the series and looks at the life of a upper-middle class family in the late 1930’s. The threat of war is slowly creeping into the lives of the Cazalet brothers Hugh, Edward and Rupert and their respective families. London is their regular home but they all meet up every summer in Sussex, at the family ‘pile’ where their now elderly parents and [spinster] sister Rachel, still live.
It is what I call a gentle read, rolling along at a sedate pace. All seems pretty normal at the start but, like with all families if you scratch the surface, tensions and personal battles soon appear. Like many families of that time a lot of effort is put into ‘people pleasing’ and appearing to do the right thing and behave in the correct manner as befits people of their station. Keeping up a front and not letting the side down, even between the married couples, whilst keeping a tight hold on all emotions. It is told from the perspective of each of the family members, from the grandparents right down to the children which is sometimes difficult to keep up with. There is a family tree and a list of the respective households [including staff and servants] at the start of the book and this came in very useful at certain points.
There are no chapters, the book is divided into two parts and each part is sub-divided into small sections, a new section for each person being focussed on. I personally found this strange and prefer chapters although I have to be honest, I don’t really know why. Old habits maybe? I also found that, due to the shortness of each section and the speed at which it changed direction, I often became disorientated and lost track a bit. This made it hard for me to become totally engrossed and ‘lost’ in the book. I love books where you can totally lose yourself for a couple of hours without even realising the time, the ones you long to get back to and grieve their loss when they’re finished; this book isn’t quite one of those.
It was fairly well written although occasionally a phrase or sentence would present in such a way as to impede the flow and I’d have to re-read it to be sure that I’d understood the meaning correctly. Initially I thought it was me but no, it was the style of writing and, for me anyway, it wasn’t always smooth. That may say a lot more about me than it does about the author however.
For anyone who loves historical, family focussed fiction based around the pre WWII years, this is the perfect book. It’s a real fireside read with comforting overtones and most people will recognise themselves or one of their family members in one of the characters. It’s an almost voyeuristic look at the Cazalet family and you quickly become one of the family, getting emotionally involved and taking sides by the end of the book. The book does not end on a cliff-hanger but does leave you wondering what’s going to happen next.
Yes, I enjoyed the book. I’d give it THREE STARS out of five. I will probably buy the next in the series although not straight away. It didn’t ‘drive’ me or pull me in like other books I’ve read but it fits into my occasional need for a book that I can read without having to invest too much emotional energy.
I’m now about a third of the way though C J Sansom’s, ‘Dissolution’ and so far it’s a cracking read. Much better than I’d anticipated even from my initial assessment. Loving it…..
For those who are wondering, it was a pretty good week at work in the end. I have had a really bad day today but one out of seven isn’t bad. Bad as in emotionally difficult but good inasmuch as I’m here with my ‘boys’ and we’ve been very busy cleaning, doing homework [not mine lol] and generally preparing for the week ahead. I hope you all have a great week too and with any luck I’ll be back next Sunday with a review of Sansom’s book.