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Born in London in 1923, Elizabeth Jane Howard was privately educated at home, moving on to short-lived careers as an actress and model, before writing her first acclaimed novel, The Beautiful Visit, in 1950. She has written twelve highly regarded novels, most recently Falling . Her Cazalet Chronicles have become established as modern classics and were recently filmed by th Born in London in 1923, Elizabeth Jane Howard was privately educated at home, moving on to short-lived careers as an actress and model, before writing her first acclaimed novel, The Beautiful Visit, in 1950. She has written twelve highly regarded novels, most recently Falling . Her Cazalet Chronicles have become established as modern classics and were recently filmed by the BBC.She has been married three times - firstly to Peter Scott, the naturalist and son of Captain Scott, and most famously and tempestuously to Kingsley Amis. It was Amis' son by another marriage, Martin, to whom she introduced the works of Jane Austen and ensured that he received the education that would be the grounding of his own literary career. Her closest friends have included some of the greatest writers and thinkers of the day: Laurie Lee, Arthur Koestler and Cecil Day-Lewis, among others. Slipstream brilliantly illuminates the literary world of the latter half of the 20th century, as well as giving a highly personal insight into the life of one of our most beloved British writers. This will be one of the most anticipated, and talked about, memoirs of the season.


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Born in London in 1923, Elizabeth Jane Howard was privately educated at home, moving on to short-lived careers as an actress and model, before writing her first acclaimed novel, The Beautiful Visit, in 1950. She has written twelve highly regarded novels, most recently Falling . Her Cazalet Chronicles have become established as modern classics and were recently filmed by th Born in London in 1923, Elizabeth Jane Howard was privately educated at home, moving on to short-lived careers as an actress and model, before writing her first acclaimed novel, The Beautiful Visit, in 1950. She has written twelve highly regarded novels, most recently Falling . Her Cazalet Chronicles have become established as modern classics and were recently filmed by the BBC.She has been married three times - firstly to Peter Scott, the naturalist and son of Captain Scott, and most famously and tempestuously to Kingsley Amis. It was Amis' son by another marriage, Martin, to whom she introduced the works of Jane Austen and ensured that he received the education that would be the grounding of his own literary career. Her closest friends have included some of the greatest writers and thinkers of the day: Laurie Lee, Arthur Koestler and Cecil Day-Lewis, among others. Slipstream brilliantly illuminates the literary world of the latter half of the 20th century, as well as giving a highly personal insight into the life of one of our most beloved British writers. This will be one of the most anticipated, and talked about, memoirs of the season.

30 review for Slipstream: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    KOMET

    Elizabeth Jane Howard (EJH), one of my favorite writers, is someone truly deserving of wider recognition for her extraordinary literary talent. With this memoir, she has shown herself to be unflinchingly honest about herself, her family, friends and acquaintances, as well as life as she came to know it. Indeed, the reason for EJH penning this memoir with the title "Slipstream" is because, as she states plainly to the reader, "I feel as though I have lived most of my life in the slipstream of exp Elizabeth Jane Howard (EJH), one of my favorite writers, is someone truly deserving of wider recognition for her extraordinary literary talent. With this memoir, she has shown herself to be unflinchingly honest about herself, her family, friends and acquaintances, as well as life as she came to know it. Indeed, the reason for EJH penning this memoir with the title "Slipstream" is because, as she states plainly to the reader, "I feel as though I have lived most of my life in the slipstream of experience. Often I have had to repeat the same disastrous situation several times before I got the message. ... I do not write this book as a wise, mature, finished person who has learned all the answers, but rather as someone who ... is still trying to change, find things out and do a bit better with them." EJH was born in 1923, the oldest of 3 and the only daughter in a middle-class family where sons were favored, especially by her mother, with whom she tried all her life to have a close relationship. Her mother, before marrying her father, had had ambitions to be a ballet dancer, having once danced in the corps de ballet of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. But upon meeting EJH's father, a First World War combat veteran who was ruggedly handsome with an infectious charm and ease with people, she put aside all thoughts of an independent career to fulfill the expected role of wife and mother and all that that entailed for women of her generation. EJH, as she was growing up, was also expected to accept her allotted slot as a female in a family where modesty, restraint, and self-effacement were fostered and expected to be practiced as a matter-of-course. “I was very well aware that [Robin, her oldest brother] was the favourite – with our first nanny, with the Yorkshire cook who adored him, but above all with our mother. All I can remember feeling about this is a sense of inferiority. I was thin, with thick brown lamentably straight hair and a sallow complexion; my brother was clearly more loveable. His being musical was also much in his favour: both my parents, above any other art, revered music and I had no discernible talent for it.” EJH was largely privately educated and speaks very candidly of many of the insecurities she had as a child, adolescent, and young adult. It became increasingly clear to me as I read deeper into this memoir, that she was trying so hard to find herself, develop talents as a way of asserting her own identity and finding personal fulfilment, and establish friendships with people she could trust and love. I was deeply moved also by her honesty and her observations of her family. EJH as a child, had a very close relationship with her father, who always treated her with great affection. Then as she entered into adolescence, that relationship became somewhat strained and remote (the reasons for that I leave to the reader of this review to discover for him/herself). EJH and her father would only become closer again when she herself was married to her first husband Peter Scott (the son of the late Arctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott of the ill-fated Antarctic expedition of 1911-12 who was a naval officer who distinguished himself through his Second World War service and later as a celebrated artist, illustrator, and naturalist), with whom she would have her only child, Nicola. Elizabeth Jane Howard married for the first time in 1942, age 19, had her daughter the following year, and struggled for a time to have careers in acting and modelling. The memoir is studded with photos from various phases of her life and it is easy to see how EJH as a young woman had many men who desired her. Despite her own diffidence and unease about her own appearance, EJH was a very attractive and charming woman. After leaving Peter Scott in 1946 (they divorced 5 years later), she found a job as a publishing editor. Here she began to flourish and develop relationships with a variety of people in the artistic and literary communities. These were the years --- from the late 1940s and well into the 1960s --- in which EJH began to develop her talents as a novelist, book reviewer, and short story writer. She had lovers by the score (not to suggest that EJH was an 'easy woman'; she wasn't; she was a woman who, by own her admission, "was still at the stage when my sense of self rested almost entirely upon how somebody else saw me. I wanted his affection and interest more than anything else in the world."), was briefly married for a second time, travelled fairly widely, and met during the early 1960s at the Cheltenham Literary Festival (which she helped organize) the writer Kingsley Amis, who would later figure prominently (for good and ill) in her life. They married in 1965. EJH shares with the reader a lot of the ups and downs of her marriage to Amis. She said that his disciplined approach to his writing much impressed her as well as his bonhomie when he was in a light and generous mood. But, as the marriage went on, his drinking grew to excess, and Amis came to resent EJH. As far as I was concerned, the man deserved a good slap from time to time! Anyway, I'm not going to speak any further about that. Read "SLIPSTREAM" and you will marvel at the kind of life Elizabeth Jane Howard was able to establish, through much struggle. She impressed me as a smart, at times shrewd, discerning, fun-loving, and compassionate person. One more thing I like to say about this memoir that I especially liked was a listing EJH made, between the Preface and the first chapter, in a section entitled 'Cast of Characters' in which she identifies many of the distinguished and famous persons she came to know throughout her life. "SLIPSTREAM" is a memoir that I will long cherish. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves to read memoirs.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Claire Fuller

    This was absolutely fascinating, more so because I could see the autobiographical parts of her novels that I've read (I think I've still got about four to read). This memoir covers many years, lots of people (and many writers), affairs, marriages, and houses. She must have caused the end of lots of people's marriages, but she doesn't comment on that - her biggest regret seemed to be how she brought up (or didn't bring up), her only daughter. It was so readable, despite the huge cast. Sometimes I This was absolutely fascinating, more so because I could see the autobiographical parts of her novels that I've read (I think I've still got about four to read). This memoir covers many years, lots of people (and many writers), affairs, marriages, and houses. She must have caused the end of lots of people's marriages, but she doesn't comment on that - her biggest regret seemed to be how she brought up (or didn't bring up), her only daughter. It was so readable, despite the huge cast. Sometimes I felt that she was listing them because she was afraid to miss anyone out, and no one - except perhaps Kingsley Amis - came off that badly. But anyway, when I read an autobiography I'm not really looking for the dirt on people the author has known, but an account of their life, and this I got in this wonderful book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    EJH is not kind to herself in this memoir, which makes for painful but gripping reading and reveals that almost everything in the Cazalets is autobiographical. Unloved by her mother, married too young, neglectful of her own daughter and repeatedly unfaithful - all of this is laid bare. The first three quarters are more compelling than the final section as once she has separated from Kingsley Amis, the books becomes a list of house renovations and friends who have been kind to her in her old age, EJH is not kind to herself in this memoir, which makes for painful but gripping reading and reveals that almost everything in the Cazalets is autobiographical. Unloved by her mother, married too young, neglectful of her own daughter and repeatedly unfaithful - all of this is laid bare. The first three quarters are more compelling than the final section as once she has separated from Kingsley Amis, the books becomes a list of house renovations and friends who have been kind to her in her old age, which is less interesting than her thwarted literary ambitions and failed love affairs. The characters who flit across these pages are remarkable too - Cecil Day Lewis, Laurie Lee, Elizabeth Taylor, Sybille Bedford... A good introduction to the life of a remarkable writer, as well as a must for all fans of her novels.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hermien

    I thoroughly enjoyed it. It made me want to re-read her books just to see how much of herself she put in them.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jane Louis-Wood

    This is a very honest account of her life and awful romantic choices. I was struck several times by the thought that if she had been less beautiful or more arrogant she would have been much happier, as either change would have deflected the attention of the self-absorbed, curiously infantile men she fell for (I'd have suffocated Kingsley Amis with a pillow, very slowly).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Unfortunately, I tried to read this, but thought it paled into nothing by comparison with the Cazalet Chronicles novels. I gave up quite quickly. The fiction was better!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kate Millin

    Born in London in 1923, Elizabeth Jane Howard was privately educated at home, moving on to short-lived careers as an actress and model, before writing her first acclaimed novel, "The Beautiful Visit", in 1950. She has written 12 highly regarded novels, most recently "Falling". Her Cazalet Chronicles have become established as modern classics and have been filmed by the BBC. She has been married three times - firstly to Peter Scott, the naturalist and son of Captain Scott, and most famously and t Born in London in 1923, Elizabeth Jane Howard was privately educated at home, moving on to short-lived careers as an actress and model, before writing her first acclaimed novel, "The Beautiful Visit", in 1950. She has written 12 highly regarded novels, most recently "Falling". Her Cazalet Chronicles have become established as modern classics and have been filmed by the BBC. She has been married three times - firstly to Peter Scott, the naturalist and son of Captain Scott, and most famously and tempestuously to Kingsley Amis. It was Amis' son by another marriage, Martin, to whom she introduced the works of Jane Austen and ensured that he received the education that would be the grounding of his own literary career. Her closest friends have included some of the greatest writers and thinkers of the day - Laurie Lee, Arthur Koestler and cecil Day-Lewis, among others. Honest and unflinching, this book illuminates the literary world of the latter half of the 20th century, as well as giving a personal insight into the life of Elizabeth Jane Howard. I found the writing a little stilted at time - interesting for a professional writer ( but I suppose writing about your own life is different to writing novels, plays of film scripts). She was certainly linked with some significant people of the 20th Century - an interesting account of a time that was very different to the one we live in now. A bookcrossing book: http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/7...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie

    Elizabeth Jane Howard. Last year I read her four-volume set of novels about the Cazalet family, set during WWII England. This is a memoir by their author, and I liked it a lot. She was an actress for a while, married a much older man, divorced him, and wrote and edited books and did a lot of odd jobs while trying to figure out her life. She had three unhappy marriages; she felt she was never first in anyone’s life, and she had a daughter but regretted not being close to her because she was raise Elizabeth Jane Howard. Last year I read her four-volume set of novels about the Cazalet family, set during WWII England. This is a memoir by their author, and I liked it a lot. She was an actress for a while, married a much older man, divorced him, and wrote and edited books and did a lot of odd jobs while trying to figure out her life. She had three unhappy marriages; she felt she was never first in anyone’s life, and she had a daughter but regretted not being close to her because she was raised by a nanny. That was during the war when it was safer for the daughter to be elsewhere and she made the choice to stay in London and live alone and try to write. Later she was married to Kingsley Amis and tried to be a “good” wife and step-mother and didn’t get much writing done. They had a bitter divorce. Eventually therapy helped her get some insights into herself and make changes. She’s known a lot of fascinating people and tells her story with a lot of self knowledge that made me like it a lot.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lyndsy Spence

    I read this ages ago and what has always stood out for me is how hyper-critical EJH is of herself. As such, she paints herself as an unpleasant character, which from listening to her on the radio, I can judge that she is not. Now that I've read The Cazalet Chronicles, I'd like to re-read her memoirs as she poured a lot of her personal life and family into the trilogy. As far as characterizations go, EJH is Louise Cazalet. Reminiscent of Nancy Mitford in a way.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Beth Bonini

    I read Elizabeth Jane Howard's memoir directly after finishing her Cazalet Chronicles, and it was interesting to discover the many parallels between her own life and her "fictional" work. I was somewhat surprised to discover that Howard is actually Louise in the books. I had thought she was Clary -- the writer. It is perplexing, in a way, because Louise is the most opaque and unlikable of the three female leads in the Chronicles. And yet, Howard describes herself as someone with little self-know I read Elizabeth Jane Howard's memoir directly after finishing her Cazalet Chronicles, and it was interesting to discover the many parallels between her own life and her "fictional" work. I was somewhat surprised to discover that Howard is actually Louise in the books. I had thought she was Clary -- the writer. It is perplexing, in a way, because Louise is the most opaque and unlikable of the three female leads in the Chronicles. And yet, Howard describes herself as someone with little self-knowledge or confidence; someone who had to make the same painful mistakes over and over again before she "learned" from them. She had (still has) a fascinating life, and certainly knew some amazing people. Lots of famous lovers, including Kingsley Amis -- who seemed like great fun AND a selfish monster. A renowned domestic goddess -- in addition to her literary gifts. A beauty. BUT this is ultimately a very sad story. She is almost brutally honest, but her hardness about herself creates a certain distance, too. A good friend of mine said that she couldn't really like Howard after reading her memoir; I didn't feel that, really, but she is certainly a complex and prickly person. She has/had so many gifts, but her chronic insecurity tainted everything. One last note: I've also read Falling, one of her most recent novels, and I was upset to realize how close to the truth this rather gruesome novel is. (In it, an elderly woman is taken in by a really awful con man.)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ali Williams

    On the 2nd January, Elizabeth Jane Howard died. 90 years old, and having brought out yet another novel in April last year, she was renowned for being vivacious, sexually liberated and approaching her craft with humility and bemusement. Having won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for her debut novel in 1953, she went on to write novels reminiscent of Austen in both their tone and incredible depiction of everyday female characters. Slipstream - an autobiography that is full of heartwarming and heartwre On the 2nd January, Elizabeth Jane Howard died. 90 years old, and having brought out yet another novel in April last year, she was renowned for being vivacious, sexually liberated and approaching her craft with humility and bemusement. Having won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for her debut novel in 1953, she went on to write novels reminiscent of Austen in both their tone and incredible depiction of everyday female characters. Slipstream - an autobiography that is full of heartwarming and heartwrenching moments - is best summed up in her own words: I feel as though I have lived most of my life in the slipstream of experience. Often I have had to repeat the same disastrous situation several times before I got the message. That is still happening. I do not write this book as a wise, mature, finished person who has learned all the answers, but rather as someone who even at this late stage of seventy-nine years is still trying to change, find things out and do a bit better with them. Happy New Year to you all, and may we all keep on trying to do that bit better. http://exploitsofachicklitaficionado....

  12. 5 out of 5

    Angela Buckley

    I read the whole set of the Cazalet Chronicles last summer and so I was very keen to read about their author, Elizabeth Jane Howard. I was surprised at how similar aspects of her life were to her fictional world and it was fascinating to work out the links between the characters in her memory and in her books. I recognised some of them immediately and it allowed me to indulge further in the Cazalet household. Howard certainly had an extraordinary life and she was quite honest about her shortcomi I read the whole set of the Cazalet Chronicles last summer and so I was very keen to read about their author, Elizabeth Jane Howard. I was surprised at how similar aspects of her life were to her fictional world and it was fascinating to work out the links between the characters in her memory and in her books. I recognised some of them immediately and it allowed me to indulge further in the Cazalet household. Howard certainly had an extraordinary life and she was quite honest about her shortcomings and the limitations of her personal experiences. There was a constant barrage of events and people throughout the memoir and I would liked to have been able to delve more into her thoughts and reactions, which were sometimes quite superficial. Definitely well worth reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Janet Wolkoff

    This is an extraordinary memoir. The writing is gorgeous. The life is presented so honestly the reader feels she is living it along with the author. This is an inside look at the struggles and perseverance required to be a writer, especially when an active life of family and friends go along with it. Elizabeth Howard was prolific and ultimately very successful financially. However, nothing came to her easily and she suffered plenty. She was married and divorced three times along with, so it seem This is an extraordinary memoir. The writing is gorgeous. The life is presented so honestly the reader feels she is living it along with the author. This is an inside look at the struggles and perseverance required to be a writer, especially when an active life of family and friends go along with it. Elizabeth Howard was prolific and ultimately very successful financially. However, nothing came to her easily and she suffered plenty. She was married and divorced three times along with, so it seemed, the rest of post-War England. Her numerous affairs and marriage to Kingsley Amis, the author and alcoholic, are chronicled without a hint of braggadocio. She was striving her whole life to be a good person and ultimately she succeeded in that too.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    I knew very little about Elizabeth Jane Howard before starting this book, but I enjoyed it very much. It's primarily the story of her life: her childhood, her relationships and marriages (including marriages to Peter Scott and Kinglsey Amis), and her struggle to gain sufficient independence, confidence and income to write. There's comparatively little about the process of writing her books, but it's hard not to like an author who is so candid about her failings, nor a book in which Daniel Day Le I knew very little about Elizabeth Jane Howard before starting this book, but I enjoyed it very much. It's primarily the story of her life: her childhood, her relationships and marriages (including marriages to Peter Scott and Kinglsey Amis), and her struggle to gain sufficient independence, confidence and income to write. There's comparatively little about the process of writing her books, but it's hard not to like an author who is so candid about her failings, nor a book in which Daniel Day Lewis pops round to help clear out the garage.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Janet Bishop

    I wanted to read this for ages to see what Elizabeth Jane Howard was like in real life . I'd read and much enjoyed the Cazalat books ,unfortunately this was really hard going as her personal life seemed to be such a struggle at times especially her relationship with her daughter her husbands and her many lovers on a more positive note she made many loyal friends and seem to be more relaxed with them ! It was quite lengthy too and quite boring at times ! I couldn't believe that in her daughters y I wanted to read this for ages to see what Elizabeth Jane Howard was like in real life . I'd read and much enjoyed the Cazalat books ,unfortunately this was really hard going as her personal life seemed to be such a struggle at times especially her relationship with her daughter her husbands and her many lovers on a more positive note she made many loyal friends and seem to be more relaxed with them ! It was quite lengthy too and quite boring at times ! I couldn't believe that in her daughters younger years Elizabeth didn't have much in put with her which I found terribly sad !

  16. 4 out of 5

    D

    Fascinating. Elizabeth Howard made more than the usual amount of mistakes in her life. Most of those can be blamed on an unfit mother that did her best to not educate and emotionally cripple her daughter from an early age. Hard to comprehend why she took her mother in and cared for her, at the end. A case of Stockholm syndrome, perhaps. It appears that the 'Cazalet Chronicles' are mostly autobiographical.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Austen to Zafón

    After reading the engrossing and well-written Cazalet series, which is the saga of a family before, during, and after WWII, I wanted to know more about the author. I enjoyed reading about her own life, which she used as a model for the series.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    Ms Howard has has a very interesting & varied life. A good read. Ms Howard has has a very interesting & varied life. A good read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alisa

    I had no idea she was married to Kingsley Amis! And from what it seems...that was no prize. Too bad. I really liked Lucky Jim.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Not fiction, but EJH's memoir and a lovely book, pure pleasure to read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    In the middle of this book I began to dislike it for I found Elizabeth Jane Howard's frequent and indiscriminate love affairs and name-dropping tedious. This reaction worried me as I had read and enjoyed all her novels, particularly the Cazalet Chronicles which I had reread prior to reading the autobiography. I realised that many situations in the chronicles featured in the autobiography. In fact, several characters had been used for Howard's own experiences! I'm glad that I persevered to the en In the middle of this book I began to dislike it for I found Elizabeth Jane Howard's frequent and indiscriminate love affairs and name-dropping tedious. This reaction worried me as I had read and enjoyed all her novels, particularly the Cazalet Chronicles which I had reread prior to reading the autobiography. I realised that many situations in the chronicles featured in the autobiography. In fact, several characters had been used for Howard's own experiences! I'm glad that I persevered to the end of the book as it became more interesting again after her marriage to Kingsley Amis which ended in divorce. I could also relate to her feelings about growing older as she becomes limited by illness and painful arthritis.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    I got so bored with my book group Trollope that I had to have a break. I whizzed through this fat book in a few days. It's obviously of particular interest if you've read the Cazalet Chronicles, because so much of that series was based on Howard's own life -- to the extent that in places you get a bit of "seen it all before". The character closest to her is clearly Louise, but she gave aspects of her life to several other female characters as well. And the parents and grandparents are dead ringe I got so bored with my book group Trollope that I had to have a break. I whizzed through this fat book in a few days. It's obviously of particular interest if you've read the Cazalet Chronicles, because so much of that series was based on Howard's own life -- to the extent that in places you get a bit of "seen it all before". The character closest to her is clearly Louise, but she gave aspects of her life to several other female characters as well. And the parents and grandparents are dead ringers for her own. Howard's parents' dysfunctional marriage has a lot to answer for. Her mother favoured sons, and Howard never felt loved or appreciated by her. Her father certainly did love her, but in a definitely inappropriate way once she became a teenager. She escaped into an early and ill-judged marriage with the much older Peter Scott, promptly got pregnant, and had a daughter whom she abandoned to the care of others almost immediately (yes, nannies were common in her circles, but she didn't even live with her most of the time). It's unfortunate that much of the book is a catalogue of the men she had affairs with; they seem to define her life more than her writing, as she desperately sought the love and affection she wasn't getting from her family. As a gullible and beautiful young woman, she was easy prey for a whole succession of men, mostly married and older than her. Her behaviour makes her seem selfish, especially when she has affairs with the husbands of friends. But she can't have been as evil as all that, because it's notable that in many cases she was able to recover the friendship. In the case of the Day-Lewises for example, she was godmother to their children and had them both to live in her house while Cecil was dying. So clearly her numerous friends appreciated her. Unfortunate too that she ever got involved with Kingsley Amis, a joyful early relationship turning into something that poisoned her life for years, wrecking her self-esteem and filling her life with domestic duties that prevented her from writing. He had no respect for her as a person or a writer and behaved appallingly, but on the upside she ended up having therapy for years, and I think it's this that has enabled her to look back on her life and her friends and lovers with such clear understanding and generosity; even her father is forgiven and she manages to repair her relationship with her daughter. It gets rather bitty towards the end, and it's a shame she doesn't discuss her work more. I'd say it's for EJH enthusiasts only. If you aren't yet one, you could become so by reading any of her early novels, or indeed the Cazalet novels, written after she left Amis. And now, back to Trollope :(

  23. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I have loved the books of Elizabeth Jane Howard and these memoirs are as interesting and beautifully written as the novels. Elizabeth Jane Howard was born in 1923 and died in her sleep age 90 in 2013. She was born into a comfortable middle class family but with a cold unloving mother and a handsome glamorous father whose relationship with his only daughter became sexually abusive. The extent of this is kept vague. She remained loyal to him although she showed a confusion of sexual boundaries all I have loved the books of Elizabeth Jane Howard and these memoirs are as interesting and beautifully written as the novels. Elizabeth Jane Howard was born in 1923 and died in her sleep age 90 in 2013. She was born into a comfortable middle class family but with a cold unloving mother and a handsome glamorous father whose relationship with his only daughter became sexually abusive. The extent of this is kept vague. She remained loyal to him although she showed a confusion of sexual boundaries all her life. Howard spent so much of her life looking for love in all the wrong places. She was beautiful and attracted many of her friends' husbands and broke many relationships and marriages. Then she would move on. Her marriage to Peter Scott produced her only child a daughter Nicola who was given to other people to raise. Such a lot of potential unhappiness! Her third and last marriage to Kingsley Amis seemed to be a love match and when he rejected her after eighteen years she was heartbroken. There is a lot of sadness in these memoirs. The wonderful Cazalet books were written when she was alone and in her seventies and not always well. I was amazed when she left Amis that he was earning about £80,00 a year and she was earning £2,000 or £3,000 a year. I'm not sure that Amis is quite so marketable now. We cringe when she describes all the mistakes she makes about people and love and thrill for her when she has happy times. At the front of the book there is a list of people who appear in the memoirs. Many of them were close friends and remained loyal to her. It reads like an amazing who's who of people in the Arts in Britain in the middle of the 20thC. There is an honesty in her account of her life and every page is a gripping read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    A really fascinating autobiography by Elizabeth Jane Howard, author of many novels including the Cazalet Chronicles, which I love and reread often. Turns out they were based on her family and friends all of whom appear in these pages. She led a privileged life in terms of background and upbringing and knew everyone in social and literary circles so at one level the book is a lovely wallow in gossip and nostalgia. But it isn't really that. Her parents were deeply flawed, her father abused her and A really fascinating autobiography by Elizabeth Jane Howard, author of many novels including the Cazalet Chronicles, which I love and reread often. Turns out they were based on her family and friends all of whom appear in these pages. She led a privileged life in terms of background and upbringing and knew everyone in social and literary circles so at one level the book is a lovely wallow in gossip and nostalgia. But it isn't really that. Her parents were deeply flawed, her father abused her and her life was a search for satisfactory romantic love which she tried hard to combine with her writing. She's very interesting about the necessity and pain of being a writer, as she is about trying to be truthful and revealing of her character and motivations; this can often sit uncomfortably alongside the accounts of the many affairs she had with married men. She must have caused a great deal of misery as well as suffering some herself but I don't feel like judging her - I admire the attempt at a clear eyed accounting of her life.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    A wonderful, very honest memoir, that kept me up most of the night until I'd finished reading it. There's a gossipy interest (the marriages with Kingsley Amis, Peter Scott -- the naturalist/ artist, affairs with Wayland Young, Laurie Lee, Koestler, and others) but more interesting, a determined honesty about herself. The lifelong vulnerability allied to acute self-analysis is at times very touching. She does have a long stint in therapy, including Group Therapy. It's also very well-written. High A wonderful, very honest memoir, that kept me up most of the night until I'd finished reading it. There's a gossipy interest (the marriages with Kingsley Amis, Peter Scott -- the naturalist/ artist, affairs with Wayland Young, Laurie Lee, Koestler, and others) but more interesting, a determined honesty about herself. The lifelong vulnerability allied to acute self-analysis is at times very touching. She does have a long stint in therapy, including Group Therapy. It's also very well-written. Highly recommended.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zareen

    This has taken me a long time to read as I haven't read it continuously. Elizabeth Jane Howard has shown a growing self- awareness. She has displayed an honesty about her responses to her bereavements & her other experiences of loss, like failed marriages. By the end of her memoir she seemed to have come to terms with herself. She has survived her various vicissitudes and is still writing,through the services of an amanuensis. On 23March this year Elizabeth Jane Howard celebrated her 90th Birthday This has taken me a long time to read as I haven't read it continuously. Elizabeth Jane Howard has shown a growing self- awareness. She has displayed an honesty about her responses to her bereavements & her other experiences of loss, like failed marriages. By the end of her memoir she seemed to have come to terms with herself. She has survived her various vicissitudes and is still writing,through the services of an amanuensis. On 23March this year Elizabeth Jane Howard celebrated her 90th Birthday.

  27. 4 out of 5

    The Library Lady

    I am a big fan of Jane (the name she went by) Howard's Cazalet books, and it was interesting to see how much of her own life she put into her alter ego Louise, and that part of the Cazalet family. But Louise's part of the family always came off as unlikable, and while I could see WHY both Howard and Louise were the way they were, it didn't make me like either of them better. And it was especially disappointing that she mentions writing the Cazalet books, but doesn't discuss them, just mentions t I am a big fan of Jane (the name she went by) Howard's Cazalet books, and it was interesting to see how much of her own life she put into her alter ego Louise, and that part of the Cazalet family. But Louise's part of the family always came off as unlikable, and while I could see WHY both Howard and Louise were the way they were, it didn't make me like either of them better. And it was especially disappointing that she mentions writing the Cazalet books, but doesn't discuss them, just mentions them in passing. A lot less than I was hoping for.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Mertens

    The memoir stared off ok, her early life was quite interesting. Having read the Cazalet series, I could see where she had drawn inspiration from her own life. However, at times it dips into a lot of "name-dropping" with lots of names of British artists and authors, I've never heard of, so maybe a tad tedious in places towards the end.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Faulkner

    Having read the Cazalet chronicles (twice!) is was interesting to read Howard's memoir. Though the rush of names and party descriptions blur at times, learning more about her life (certainly fodder for her novels) and her gradual emotional maturity was ultimately worth the read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sharen

    A fascinating memoir. How tragic and poignant that her mother, as well as successive husbands and lovers, made her downplay her talent and place the men in her life above her own needs and her daughter's.

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