by Elizabeth Jane Howard
Dramatised by Lin Coghlan
The family timber firm faces ruin.
Narrator ..... Penelope Wilton
Directed by Sally Avens
Last year Radio 4 dramatised the four novels that made up The Cazalet Chronicles. The novels gave a vivid insight into lives, hopes and loves of three generations during the Second World War and beyond.
Later that year, age 90, Elizabeth Jane Howard wrote, a fifth and final novel in the saga, All Change. Sadly Elizabeth Jane died in January but was delighted that the BBC were to dramatise her final novel.
The Cazalets tells the story of an upper-middle class family of the type prominent in England prior to WW2. It is now 1956 and the family must learn how to live in a very different type of world.
The three brothers, Hugh, Edward and Rupert, run the family timber firm that their father started.
Their sister, Rachel, has spent her life looking after their parents in Sussex, but now their mother has died she may finally have time to spend with her best friend and lover, Sid, (Margot Sidney).
Hugh is now Chairman of the firm. After a long time on his own following the death of his wife, Sibyl, he has remarried, his secretary, Jemima, who is a war widow. They have a daughter of their own, Laura.
Polly, Hugh's daughter by Sibyl, has married into the aristocracy and become Lady Fakenham, but she and her husband spend all their time attempting to find ways to pay for the crumbling family Estate.
Edward has left his wife, Villy, for his mistress, Diana. But since marrying, Diana, he finds it hard to recapture the joy of their affair.
Louise, his daughter by Villy, is now divorced from Michael Hadleigh and is sharing a flat with her old schoofriend, Stella. Her relationship with Villy is still fraught, but she and her father are now on good terms.
Rupert lives with his second wife, Zoe and their children. He hates working for the family firm and is envious of his old friend, Archie, who married his daughter, Clary, and still manages to make a living from painting. Clary is a writer, but is finding it increasingly hard to write and bring up a family.
The first four Cazalet Novels have sold over a million copies.
Martin Amis said of Elizabeth Jane Howard, "She is, with Iris Murdoch, the most interesting woman writer of her generation. An instinctivist, like Muriel Spark, she has a freakish and poetic eye, and a penetrating sanity.".