On Thursday I went to Elizabeth Jane Howard’s memorial service and wrote about it here for The Bookseller.
Right now, I would like time to stop so that I could reread everything she ever wrote. I’d start with The Cazalet chronicles – I want to submerge myself in the gloriously messy affairs of Polly, Louise and Clary – then all the other novels and then go back to her autobiography Slipstream and look again at the extent to which EJH mined her own experiences to create her work.
I go a lot with my husband and child to the wetland centre in Barnes, founded by EJH’s first husband, Peter Scott. We have trained our four year old to say, ‘Hello, Sir Peter Scott’ to the statue at the entrance. I’ve started telling him about EJH.
‘She wrote lots of novels and had lots of husbands.’
‘Why did she have lots of husbands, Mummy?’
‘Sometimes people do.’
The first time I read The Cazalets I didn’t have a child and had no interest in them so I failed to appreciate that EJH draws children better than any other writer I can think of.
Please do read her, if you haven’t already, Start with either The Light Years or Slipstream. Tell me what you think.