Friday, April 17, 2015

what I've been reading

I've been reading "Slipstream" a memoir by Elizabeth Jane Howard.

Elizabeth Jane Howard was the author of a series of  fictional books, about the Cazalet family, that I read recently and really enjoyed.
When I looked on Amazon for more of her books, I saw this memoir, which is no longer in print, but used copies could be ordered...from England!  I was surprised to see the shipping costs were no higher than if I had ordered from a US location.

But...back to the book.  Almost from the beginning pages I started realizing that the characters in Ms Howard's fictional books were based on many of her family members and her own life experiences.

Born in 1923, the author grew up in a well-to-do family, living in central London. The sort of family that had nannies and a chauffeur.  Her parents were loving but were absent much of the time with travel and social activities.

World War II broke out when Ms Howard was a teenager. She has a lot of interesting to say about how life changed for every one in England...rationing, air raid sirens, family members going away to war, and children sent to live in the country or to the US.

After boarding school, Ms Howard enrolled in a theatre school to follow her dream of becoming an actress. During this time she met the man who would become her first husband and the father of her only child.

Actress, playwright, model, magazine editor, the author recounts her experiences in all of these career areas. There is a lot of name dropping of famous people she becomes friends with...but they are not names I recognize since they are famous in England.

There  are more boyfriends and husbands, traveling, changing houses...she is just telling the story of her life as she looks back on it in this book written in 1998-2000.

I admire this author and enjoy her writing. She ended this autobiography with thoughts on failing health and growing older...but with a positive attitude...

"I don't want to live my life with any sort of retirement, with nostalgia and regret wrapped round me like a wet blanket. I want to live enquiringly, with curiosity and interest for the rest of my life"

Elizabeth Jane Howard died  at the age of 90 in 2014.

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