Odd Girl Out is the first book I’ve read by British author Elizabeth Jane Howard, and frankly, I loved the author. A friend gave me the author’s five-book series called Cazalet Chronicles; Now, I think I will read the series with pleasure, and I am very excited. Odd Girl Out, my book club’s choice, was one of the books that excited me and made me think a lot, both with its subject matter and excellent characters. Thanks to it, I added one more item to my list of places to live in England. Also, it made me think how important the houses in the novels are; I saw much better what the place can add to the story.
Odd Girl Out is a delightful account of how a ten-year marriage, a ten-year order, can change in a flash. Anne and Edmund live with their cat Ariadne in a beautiful house just outside London. Anne takes care of her house and garden while Edmund commutes to and from London every day for work. They have an order that works like clockwork and never fails. Nothing happens in their lives that could disrupt this order, and they both do their best to ensure the continuity of this simple and sweet life. But everything changes when Edmund’s stepmother’s twenty-two-year-old daughter Arabella enters their lives.
Odd Girl Out is a novel far from an ordinary story of cheating and marriage breakdown. You understand all Elizabeth Jane Howard’s finely crafted characters and see what happened through their eyes. While this adds great depth to the novel, it also involves the reader. I even found myself sympathizing with Edmund as I stood closer to Arabella in places and Anne in others.
For a while, I focused on my own marriage, my previous relationships, and the relationships around me. I examined them all one by one, and I lingered a lot with the question of what I would do in the end if I experienced something similar to the situation in the novel. And I finally came to the conclusion Howard told a finely crafted, remarkable story in Odd Girl Out.
Odd Girl Out will be one of those books that you will read with pleasure, think about, get excited about, and maybe even worry about. Enjoy!
Odd Girl Out
Odd Girl Out: Elizabeth Jane Howard presents a classic love triangle, in which a seemingly idyllic marriage is disrupted by the arrival of a beautiful young woman.
Anne and Edmund Cornhill are that rare couple: Happily married for nearly a decade, they live in a beautiful home just outside London. Their relationship is built on love and mutual respect and they, along with the family pet—the imperious, pregnant feline Ariadne—have settled into a complacent, pleasurable domestic routine. Then, one sultry summer, Arabella Dawick drops into their lives.
The “lost little rich girl” whose mother was once married to Edmund’s father, twenty-two-year-old Arabella utterly enchants the Cornhill household—Ariadne included. And after living in many exotic places, restless, rootless Arabella is surprised to feel so much at home in a strange place. But then temptation leads to illicit passion.
Relationships are altered and reexamined, and the marital stakes suddenly shoot sky-high. Like a pebble in a pond that sends out spiraling ripples, Arabella’s arrival threatens not only a marriage, but also the people Anne and Edmund believed themselves to be. As desires are succumbed to and vows broken, and life as they have known it disappears forever, all three are forced to confront their most intimate feelings—including the secrets man and wife have been keeping from each other.
From the author of the bestselling Cazalet Chronicles, Elizabeth Jane Howard’s fifth novel, Odd Girl Out, is both a dead-on dissection of a marriage believed to be indestructible and a masterful exploration of the tenuous bonds that hold us together—a deeply affecting story of love, loneliness, and intense yearning.
Elizabeth Jane Howard
Elizabeth Jane Howard, (born March 26, 1923, London, England—died January 2, 2014, Bungay, Suffolk), British writer of novels and shorter fiction who was praised for her deft characterizations of alienated people and her sensitivity to the nuances of family relationships.
Howard worked as an actress in repertory theatre in Devon, England, and at Stratford-upon-Avon, and during World War II she was a broadcaster for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). After the war she worked as an editor.
Howard’s writing was acclaimed for its technique as well as for its evocative, tightly drawn scenes delineating tensions and secrets between parents and children and between spouses. Her first novel, The Beautiful Visit (1950), won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. It was followed by The Long View (1956), The Sea Change (1959), After Julius (1965), and Something in Disguise (1969). The last two were later adapted as television plays for which Howard wrote the scripts. She was perhaps best known for the semiautobiographical novels known as the Cazalet Chronicles—The Light Years (1990), Marking Time (1991), Confusion (1993), Casting Off (1995), and All Change (2013)—the first two of which served as the basis for a 2001 BBC TV miniseries.
Howard’s other novels include Odd Girl Out (1972), Getting It Right (1982; film 1989), Falling (1999; film 2005), and Love All (2008). Among her works of short fiction are We Are for the Dark (1951), a collection of ghost stories, and Mr. Wrong (1975), a volume of collected short stories.
In addition to writing fiction, Howard edited The Lover’s Companion (1978) and Green Shades: An Anthology of Plants, Gardens, and Gardeners (1991). She also composed scripts for television, including episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs. Howard had a highly publicized love life, most notably a turbulent 18-year marriage (1965–83) to her third husband, novelist Kingsley Amis. In 2000 she was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE). Her memoir, Slipstream, was published two years later.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: