Casting Off (Volume 4 of the Cazalet Chronicles), by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Following Confusion, Marking Time and The Light Years, this is the last in the series, and follows events from the end of the war until early 1947.

Another fantastic read. In this book, you get the feeling that it's Clary who Howard is most fond of: she finally finds the time and space to write her first book, and finds love at last.

Although the complete series covers less than ten years, there is a huge change in society: in this book people are coming to terms with the fact that they'll have to do without servants, while in the first book such an idea wasn't even considered.

Having read this one so soon after Casting Off, I can't remember exactly what happened in each book, but some things that stuck in my mind were the passages written from the point of view of the senile aunt - the way her thoughts rambled were very convincing, and the section where an apparently new character was introduced. Here, there was quite a long description of the woman, and background story, and during this I was thinking "have I missed something? Who is this person?" And then, as we get to her wedding in a registry office, one detail about her husband-to-be is revealed, and everything falls into place: a neat change of perspective. And there was a good description of Archie (I think) putting someone on a train, and feeling "that mixture of freedom & desolation that seeing someone off on a journey seemed always to induce"

There's a real poignancy at the end of this book as Clary describes how, after finishing her novel, she feels sadness because she has to say goodbye to the characters. I can't help but think that Howard felt this way about the Cazalets.

Completed : 11-Mar-2004 (audiobook)

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