Elizabeth Jane Howard

  • by Artemis Cooper
  • Narrated by Eleanor Bron
  • 15 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923-2014) wrote brilliant novels about what love can do to people, but in her own life the lasting relationship she sought so ardently always eluded her. She grew up yearning to be an actress, but when that ambition was thwarted by marriage and the war, she turned to fiction.
Her first novel, The Beautiful Visit, won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize - she went on to write 14 more, of which the best-loved were the five volumes of The Cazalet Chronicle.
Following her divorce from her first husband, the celebrated naturalist Peter Scott, Jane embarked on a string of high-profile affairs with Cecil Day-Lewis, Arthur Koestler and Laurie Lee, which turned her into a literary femme fatale. Yet the image of a sophisticated woman hid a romantic innocence which clouded her emotional judgment. She was nearing the end of a disastrous second marriage when she met Kingsley Amis, and for a few years they were a brilliant and glamorous couple - until that marriage too disintegrated. She settled in Suffolk, where she wrote and entertained friends, but her turbulent love life was not over yet. In her early 70s, Jane fell for a con man. His unmasking was the final disillusion and inspired one of her most powerful novels, Falling.
Artemis Cooper interviewed Jane several times in Suffolk. She also talked extensively to her family, friends and contemporaries and had access to all her papers. Her biography explores a woman trying to make sense of her life through her writing as well as illuminating the literary world in which she lived.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fascinating

An absolutely fascinating book. Eleanor Bron is a fine actress, but I found her narration difficult. It was as if the microphone was too close to her mouth, I could hear ever little sound from swallowing to lip licking etc. Found it really off-putting.
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- DartmoorDiva

The Thinking Man's Courtesan?

I have never read any of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novels but she has cropped up in a number of books that I have read including those concerning Tom Rolt, Robert Aickman and the early days of the Inland Waterways Association as well as Martin Amis’s memoir "Experience".

What seems to have struck everybody about EJH was her physical beauty. I have never been able to see this but obviously photographs do not do her justice as so many people were struck by it. Great beauty can be a curse as well as a blessing and, coupled with moral ambivalence can, as in her case, be very damaging, not least to its possessor.

It is perhaps unfair to call her sexually voracious but she does not seem to have done much to resist the advances of a good many men within the literary and intellectual circles in which she moved – even if they happened to be married to one of her friends!

The book gives Eleanor Bron little scope for anything but a fairly routine reading and this made me wonder whether audiobooks are really the best vehicle for biography? Great for novels but in this case I greatly missed being able to refer to photographs and, particularly, an index.

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- Trevor

Book Details

  • Release Date: 22-09-2016
  • Publisher: John Murray