Tea or Books? #41: novels set in one day vs many years, and The Forsyte Saga vs The Cazalet Chronicles

John Galsworthy! Elizabeth Jane Howard! Circadian novels! Find out what that means, and much more, in episode 41.

Tea or Books logoGuys, it was SUPER hot when we were recording this podcast. It’s rather cooler now that I’m editing, but I rather worry that I wasn’t making much sense in this episode… forgive any heat-induced nonsense. And potentially wavering audible quality. So hot. I have cunningly edited out the bits where I went to get more cold water.

(Blame that for me saying ‘Alan Bennett’ when I mean ‘Arnold Bennett’.)

In the first half, we look at the length we like books to cover – from books where all the action takes place in one day to those where it’s over many years. And, for the second half, we’ve read more than ever this time – two chunksters, albeit only the first books in their respective series. We’re comparing A Man of Property by John Galsworthy and The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard – the openers to the Forsyte Saga and the Cazalet Chronicles.

Thanks for the new reviews, by the way! Feel free to add them through iTunes app, or you can explore our iTunes page. Let us know which you’d choose, and any recommendations!

The books and authors we mention in this episode are, as always, below:

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Another Time, Another Place by Jessie Kesson
One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes
One Day by David Nicholls
London War Notes by Mollie Panter-Downes
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Can Jane Eyre Be Happy? by John Sutherland
Ulysses by James Joyce
Saturday by Ian McEwan
Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey
Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Jodi Picoult
The Corner That Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Weatherley Parade by Richmal Crompton
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Life and Death of Harriett Frean by May Sinclair
Alas, Poor Lady by Rachel Ferguson
Us by David Nicholls
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
Agatha Christie
Marcel Proust
The Year of Reading Proust by Phyllis Rose
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Catherine Cookson
The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard
A Man of Property by John Galsworthy
The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
A Pin To See The Peepshow by F Tennyson Jesse
The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett
H.G. Wells
Illyrian Spring by Ann Bridge
Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

6 thoughts on “Tea or Books? #41: novels set in one day vs many years, and The Forsyte Saga vs The Cazalet Chronicles

  • June 23, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Loved this episode (is that the right word?) though I think discussing The Forsyte Saga on the strength of just reading The Man of Property is either very brave or very foolhardy! Personally I love the Forsytes, the way Galsworthy draws his characters (though my view of them has changed over the years), the relationships between them, and the clash between bourgeois values and a more bohemian, creative outlook on life.

    But I found the Cazalets very difficult to get along with – I bought the books after enjoying Radio 4 dramatisations, but I’m not a fan of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s writing style, and I couldn’t engage with the characters at all (I even had problems remembering who was who and had to keep looking back to check) and I really couldn’t have cared less what happened to them.

    And I’m still considering ‘Circadian’ novels v ‘chunksters’… Don’t think I could come down either way, because I like both, and it all depends what mood I’m in!

    • June 25, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Thanks Christine! (Episode is the word I use, yes :))
      I’m sure you’re right about the bravery/madness of discussing the Saga based on one book – but reading 9, and 5 enormous Cazalet books, felt like too much homework! One day I will have, and then we can do another episode :)

  • June 23, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    I love both of these series although I couldn’t get into the Forsyte Saga after the first three (I always read these first three as one book). The two series give me very different feelings and, except for the fact of them both being family sagas, I find them very different reads. Both wonderful.

    • June 25, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      It was interesting how VERY different they were, considering the structure and set-up was pretty similar. It shows what a difference writing can make.

  • June 25, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    I loved both of them but I’ve read the Cazalets much more recently, and I do find the writing style a bit more accessible. I haven’t seen the Forsyte TV adaptation but I think the Cazalets just covers the first book or maybe two. It’s very good and stars lots of excellent actors including Hugh Bonneville.

    And regarding books set in one day vs. books over long periods of time, I did think of another Persephone set in one day — The New House by Lettice Cooper which I really liked. (That’s four for Persephone, isn’t it?) I also thought of Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, which has a really interesting structure about a woman’s life and all the possible outcomes. It’s really good. I think I prefer long books because I do love getting caught up in a good long story — right now I’m reading London Belongs to Me (based on Rachel’s raves) and I’ll be very sad when it’s over.

    Loving your podcasts as always and I’m so glad you’ve had a break from the miserable heat. I was in London last week on a family vacation and I thought I would melt, though my hotel was blessedly air-conditioned. Subways, restaurants, and theaters — not so much!


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