I find this time of year I need a book that completely absorbs me and takes me away from the horrible season of greed and panic shopping that seems to engulf us all. I want to be soothed and stimulated in equal amounts, a bit like nibbling a valium while sipping an espresso. If that’s possible.
Elizabeth Jane Howard does that to perfection. It’s a book of a middle-class family just before the war. Sounds boring? O ye of little faith.
It’s an absolute page-turner - and one that I come back to again and again. If you are a Kindle lover, it has the advantage of the X-ray-enabled button, as the cast of characters is vast and it certainly helps to either read the family tree at the start of the book, or simply press the button on the Kindle.
The "Brig" and the "Duchy" are the grandparents who rule the large house and family in Sussex; the detail of the house, the servants, the cars, even the horses are told in such exquisite detail and with such an eye for the unseen that it will have you enfolded in its charms very quickly.
Ignore the sales, the turkey, and the wrapping paper and enjoy a simpler, kinder and ultimately more fascinating way of life long gone.