Casting Off

by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured image for Casting Off

Whereas the first three books in the series are very much about a family spending too much time in close proximity as the result of a wartime evacuation from London to Sussex, and the problems that result from that, this book is very much about the difficulties of the post-war untangling of that situation and how it’s no easier to end things than it is to begin them. The young teenagers of the pre-war first book and now young adults making their own decisions at last. The babies have turned into proper children. The adults have grown older - sometimes wiser, sometimes not - and in many ways are finding the new world a harder place than their children are who haven’t really known anything different.

I’ve really loved reading this series, it’s been one of those “put the book down because you don’t want it to finish” experiences for me. I’m pleased to discover that despite it being advertised as a “quartet” in various places there is actually a fifth book to read which Elizabeth Jane Howard wrote some time after the others. I’m holding off on finding out exactly how auto-biographical she has been until I’ve finished the series. I started out guessing that Clary was the autobiographical character, but lately I’d be more inclined to choose Louise, mostly because it’s a much harsher portrait of a young woman’s life as she grows older. Polly has always been too happy and sensible to be any kind of self portrait. I will be interested to find out whether I am barking up completely the wrong tree.