Chronicle novel

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Chronicle novels are those long fictions, or connected series of fictions, which attempt to view (usually recent) history through the experiences of a single family or group of friends. Some fine distinctions may be drawn by literary critics and theorists between the genres Chronicle novels and saga novels; but the ordinary reader can ignore these. Such chronicle novels include:

  • Galsworthy's 14 Forsyte novels (published between 1906 and 1930), which show the effects of rising prosperity on the English upper-middle class from the end of the nineteenth century to the 1920s, by recording the [fictional] history of the different members of the Forsyte family;
  • Hugh Walpole's six-novel series of historical novels (published between 1930 and 1944, with the first four published together in 1939 as The Herries chronicle : Rogue Herries (1930), Judith Paris (1931), The Fortress (1932), Vanessa (1933), The Bright Pavilions (1940) and Katherine Christian (1944) deal with events around the Cumberland area, as they affect the Herries family.
  • C.P.Snow's Strangers and Brothers series of 11 novels (published between 1940 and 1970), which show Lewis Eliot (whose life contains echoes of the author's) and his career in science and politics, reflecting the development of nuclear weapons, war, politics, and academic life between 1925 and 1964.
  • Henry Williamson's 15 volume series A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight (published between 1951 and 1969), which recount the life from the 1890s to the 1950s, of Phillip Maddison, a writer whose life is like Williamson's own.
  • Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time (published between 1951 and 1975) which deals with the social and political lives of a group of friends between about 1920 and 1971, against the background mostly of the Second World War and related developments in public life.
  • Elizabeth Jane Howard's The Cazalet Chronicles, a series of five novels, of which the first four - The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, and Casting Off - were published between 1990 and 1995 and the fifth, All Change, in 2013, only two months before the author's death in January 2014. The novels deal with the lives of the Cazalets, an upper middle class English family, from the late 1930s to the 1950s. ('Cazalet' is pronounced with the final '-t-' 'silent' KA-zer-lay, IPA: /kæz ə ˈle/.)