Our latest bookclub read was ‘The Light Years’ from Elizabeth Jane Howard. This is the first book of a 5 book series, called The Cazalet Chronicles.
The Light Years – Summary
Here’s the summary I could read on Goodreads:
‘In 1937, the coming war is only a distant cloud on Britain’s horizon. As the Cazalet households prepare for their summer pilgrimage to the family estate in Sussex, readers meet Edward, in love with but by no means faithful to his wife Villy; Hugh, wounded in the Great War; Rupert, who worships his lovely child-bride Zoe; and Rachel, the spinster sister.’
The Light Years – My Thoughts
I really and truly had to get into this story and the first 180 pages of the book were a bit of a struggle. But once past that point, I started to appreciate the writing style and became a fan… let me tell you more!
The Light Years tells the story of the Cazalet family, an upperclass family, at the end of the 1930ies. The story starts in 1937 when the family leave London to spend the summer in Sussex, on the estate of William Cazalet and Kitty Barlow (the Brigh and the Duchy).
We get to know Rachel, the daughter who remained single, the three sons (Edward, Hugh and Rupert), their wives and children. We also meet the staff and many more characters, which is, I guess, the main reason of the slow start I had. There are a lot of people to be introduced and the beginning focuses on the children, which to me was less interesting and got a bit boring… I wanted the intrigues, the affaires, the heartache and the gin & tonics that were promised on the cover of my book!
At the end of the second part, the story got more complex and I got what I wanted 🙂
Every single character has its own battles to face and with the threat of a 2nd World War, you feel the anxiety and fear amidst the ones who had endured the terror and heartache of the 1st one.
Howard has the ability to describe something simple in such a way that her sentences become lyrical. Even the way a cat washing herself becomes a joy to read! To me she is a master in storytelling and she invites you in the time and place the story is set in.
The story is based on the author’s own upbringing, which makes reading this book even more interesting in my opinion. I’m curious to find out more and can’t wait to lay my hands on the sequel!
The Light Years – Book club questions
Below you can read some of the questions our book club discussed:
- It took me about 180 pages to really get inot the story. Has anyone else experienced this?
- A lot of characters are introduced. Do you think the writer did a good job in characterizing all of them?
- Which character(s) do you sympathize with and why?
- Are there too many characters in your opinion?
- Do you think the author wants to put to much into one book?
- Which parts of the book stand out?
- What do you think about the style of writing?
- Are you intrigued with the story? Intrigued enough to read the other books in this series?
The Light Years – Score
Personally I gave this book 8/10. The average score of the book club members was 7,3/10.
Next time will be a very special book club… My daughter, Charlotte Kluskens, has just published her first novel ‘The Art of Becoming’ a young adult/new adult which we will read and discuss. I have already proofread it, but I haven’t read the final version… can’t wait! I’m also anxious to hear the other book club member’s opinion… More about this in June!