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.
Publisher and industry reviews
UK Kirkus review
Elizabeth Jane Howard's novels of family life and relationships - in particular the Cazalet Chronicles - have given pleasure to hundreds of thousands of readers over the years; much more pleasure than her own family life and relationships ever gave to her. Jane, as she has always been known, was born in 1923, into a changing world. She was 'cared for' by a near-brutal nanny, and hardly ever saw her parents; was 'educated' mainly at home (which means not educated at all) and spent the rest of her life trying to catch up intellectually. Immature, naive and with very little self-confidence, she was easily and frequently hurt by those who saw her immediate attractiveness but were disappointed by the lack of sophistication that lay behind it. Her mother made it clear that she 'didn't like little girls' and much preferred Jane's two brothers. She was her charismatic father's favourite, but unfortunately he did not always express his very real love in a parental fashion. Consequently she has spent her whole life searching for inner security and love. With a desire (but no training) to express herself artistically she determined to become an actress - and for a time did, but was never quite good enough. Writing came slowly and laboriously, but at this she persisted, and work for publishers and magazines gave her discipline, and here, more than anywhere else, she finally found success. In the meantime she married three times. She says very little about her second marriage, but writes extensively about the first and third, both entered with happy anticipation. Peter Scott, her first husband, was already a celebrity: son of Scott of the Antarctic and a renowned naturalist and painter. Jane went into the marriage with high hopes but ignorant of anything which would have given it a fair start, or longevity. The birth of her daughter Nicola was a hell of pain and neglect which left her guilty and depressed; and gradually the relationship foundered. Her third marriage, to novelist Kingsley Amis, started more propitiously and lasted for 18 years; but Kingsley was demanding and publicly and humiliatingly critical of her, and in the end she left him. In later years psychotherapy helped her come to terms with herself and her mistakes; and her ever-extending list of friends and lovers reads like a Who's Who of the late 20th century. She writes with consummate honesty and great skill, and the reader's heart goes out to her. This is a thoughtful and moving chronicle of her remarkable life and character, and an invaluable record of a social class and artistic circle that no longer exist. (Kirkus UK)
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