It is the 1950s and as the Cazalets' beloved matriarch, the Duchy, passes away, she takes with her the last remnants of a world - of great houses and servants, of class and tradition - in which the Cazalets have thrived. Louise, now divorced, becomes entangled in a painful affair; while Polly and Clary must balance marriage and motherhood with their own ideas and ambitions. Hugh and Edward, now in their sixties, are feeling ill-equipped for this modern world; while Villy, long abandoned by her husband, must at last learn to live independently. But it is Rachel, who has always lived for others, who will face her greatest challenges yet . . . Events will converge at Christmas at Home Place; on which a new generation of Cazalets will descend. Only one thing is certain, nothing will ever be the same again . . . 'Elizabeth Jane Howard is one of those novelists who shows, through her work, what the novel is for . . . She helps us to do the necessary thing - open our eyes and our hearts' Hilary Mantel
Every summer, the Cazalet brothers, Hugh, Edward and Rupert, return to the family home in the heart of the Sussex countryside with their wives and children. There, they are joined by their parents and unmarried sister Rachel to enjoy two blissful months of picnics and childish games. But despite the idyllic setting, nothing can be done to soothe the siblings' heartache: Hugh is haunted by the ravages of war, Edward by his latest infidelity and Rupert by his inability to please his demanding wife. Meanwhile, Rachel risks losing her only chance at happiness because of her unflinching loyalty to the family. Howard's beautiful saga is the story of three generations of the Cazalet family. Their relatives, their children and their servants - and the fascinating triangle of their affairs . . . The Light Years is the first novel in Elizabeth Jane Howard's bestselling five-part series.