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A Dance to the Music of Time: 2nd Movement

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Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, busi Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art. In the second volume they move to London in a whirl of marriage and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and failures. These books "provide an unsurpassed picture, at once gay and melancholy, of social and artistic life in Britain between the wars" (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.). The third volume follows Nick into army life and evokes London during the blitz. In the climactic final volume, England has won the war and must now count the losses. In the background of this second volume of A Dance to the Music of Time, the rumble of distant events in Germany and Spain presages the storm of World War II. In England, even as the whirl of marriages and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and failures gathers speed, men and women find themselves on the brink of fateful choices. Includes these novels: At Lady Molly's Casanova's Chinese Restaurant The Kindly Ones


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Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, busi Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art. In the second volume they move to London in a whirl of marriage and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and failures. These books "provide an unsurpassed picture, at once gay and melancholy, of social and artistic life in Britain between the wars" (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.). The third volume follows Nick into army life and evokes London during the blitz. In the climactic final volume, England has won the war and must now count the losses. In the background of this second volume of A Dance to the Music of Time, the rumble of distant events in Germany and Spain presages the storm of World War II. In England, even as the whirl of marriages and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and failures gathers speed, men and women find themselves on the brink of fateful choices. Includes these novels: At Lady Molly's Casanova's Chinese Restaurant The Kindly Ones

30 review for A Dance to the Music of Time: 2nd Movement

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    Summer is a season when the nature is at its prime, it is a time of ripening fruits… The main characters of the book are at their prime too and they continue to look for the better place in the world and search for the truer love… Love is at once always absurd and never absurd; the more grotesque its form, the more love itself confers a certain dignity on the circumstances of those it torments. We don’t choose our love, love chooses us. Anthony Powell is an attentive onlooker and a subtle observer a Summer is a season when the nature is at its prime, it is a time of ripening fruits… The main characters of the book are at their prime too and they continue to look for the better place in the world and search for the truer love… Love is at once always absurd and never absurd; the more grotesque its form, the more love itself confers a certain dignity on the circumstances of those it torments. We don’t choose our love, love chooses us. Anthony Powell is an attentive onlooker and a subtle observer and he is full of commiseration and irony. The young get old and the old get yet older and then they die… And all this happens to the music of time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    I know I'm in a minority when I say that A Dance to the Music of Time is the greatest novel in the English language, but what the hell. I've read the whole thing rather more than twice, and I think it's a masterpiece: basically, what Proust would have written if he'd been English and done anything with his life apart from going to fancy parties and creating A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu. Anyway, I argue for the series as a whole in my review of the First Movement. Now let's talk about this volum I know I'm in a minority when I say that A Dance to the Music of Time is the greatest novel in the English language, but what the hell. I've read the whole thing rather more than twice, and I think it's a masterpiece: basically, what Proust would have written if he'd been English and done anything with his life apart from going to fancy parties and creating A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu. Anyway, I argue for the series as a whole in my review of the First Movement. Now let's talk about this volume. The First Movement is mostly about growing up inside the English class system, which is perhaps why some readers find it antipathetic; many of the characters do indeed come across as dim-witted, rich snobs. Powell grew up among these people, and knew everything about them. He describes them perfectly, neither excusing them nor ranting about their obvious shortcomings. As the progression of the books illustrates, ranting is not necessary. There's nothing you could wish done to them that they don't do, far more effectively, to themselves. But most of that is still in the future. The Second Movement - books 4, 5 and 6 - is about love, or I should perhaps say, Love. And here, I'd like to defend Powell from the often-repeated criticism that the main character is uninteresting, and that you don't feel he's there except as an observer. It is, indeed, true that you're never directly told anything much about his marriage with Isobel, who's often believed to be modelled on Powell's own wife. I think that this is a ridiculously simplistic reading of the novel. A lesser author might just have given a straightforward account of Nick's and Isobel's story. But Dance is a first-person narrative, and no one is able to describe their own marriage objectively. Human feelings aren't logical enough for that technique to work well: there are so many different threads tangled up together, and one is never sure what the "objective" truth is. Instead, Nick describes several different relationships he sees going on around him. We have Moreland, who seems to be happily married to Matilda, but who also, we gradually discover, has a crush on Priscilla; Templer, who's driving Betty insane with his incessant philandering; Maclintick, and his shrewish wife Audrey. I can't quite prove it, but it seems to me that these stories are really, in some way, about Nick. I don't think it's as simple as Powell transferring pieces of Nick's and Isobel's story to these other couples. Rather, I would say that the things Nick notices in his friends' marriages resonate precisely because they're the things he recognises from his own. It's an indirect way of presenting things, but Powell loves the indirect approach. The best example of all is Nick's affair with Jean, which is the focal point of the whole novel. This is the only time when you feel that he's truly present, truly involved; perhaps his distant, abstracted air throughout the rest of the series is just to heighten the contrast. Powell does the whole thing with such wonderful, understated grace. He never says that Nick is unable to forget her. He doesn't mention Jean for hundreds of pages at a time. Then, suddenly, she turns up unexpectedly for a paragraph or two, and again she's the most important person in the world. There's a moment in one of the later books, when someone casually mentions that Jean has left her husband, and is living in Rome. Nick comments in his usual dry way that "it was quite a good test, and I passed it with flying colours; that is, without an immediate desire to go to Rome". It's astonishing how much feeling he manages to compress into that single word, "immediate". Near the end of Hearing Secret Harmonies, Nick, now an old man, meets Jean for the last time. Many other people are present, and no one in the room knows that Jean is the love of his life; most of them are not even aware that they used to know each other. He says, in plain, impersonal language, that they almost embrace, but somehow don't. They chat politely for a few minutes. She smiles and turns to leave. As she goes out of the door, he remembers the words she spoke to him fifty years earlier, just before they slept together for the first time. It's one of my favourite scenes in any book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    While I enjoyed the 1st Movement of this adventuresome work, I found that Powell's writing truly came into its own more fully in this volume. Here the humor is more full, the language more consistent, the characters seem more clearly written (even when they may be somewhat unclear in their peculiarities). The eccentricities revealed among our narrator's acquaintances are so well fleshed out and characters introduced early on now become full developed people. I especially enjoyed chapter 6, "The While I enjoyed the 1st Movement of this adventuresome work, I found that Powell's writing truly came into its own more fully in this volume. Here the humor is more full, the language more consistent, the characters seem more clearly written (even when they may be somewhat unclear in their peculiarities). The eccentricities revealed among our narrator's acquaintances are so well fleshed out and characters introduced early on now become full developed people. I especially enjoyed chapter 6, "The Kindly Ones." In one of the quotes that seems to summarize so much of this book, we read: One passes through the world knowing few, if any of the important things about even the people with whom one has been from time to time in the closest intimacy. (p 689, p 217 of bk 6) And that seems to be the voyage of Nick's self-discovery in this 2nd movement of Powell's work....he is learning more, remembering more, putting pieces together in the puzzle of his life.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    While I enjoyed the prelude (A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement) to this overall series, I found this second movement to be truly fine. While the intrusions of the bombastic Widmerpool into the narrative continue to seem important -- as the composer Moreland says: Does he always haunt my worst moments? -- it is the narrator Nick's interactions with others, such as the writer Quiggin and the morose Maclintick, that I found most entertaining. While Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (this movem While I enjoyed the prelude (A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement) to this overall series, I found this second movement to be truly fine. While the intrusions of the bombastic Widmerpool into the narrative continue to seem important -- as the composer Moreland says: Does he always haunt my worst moments? -- it is the narrator Nick's interactions with others, such as the writer Quiggin and the morose Maclintick, that I found most entertaining. While Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (this movement's middle novel) is my favorite so far, the next, The Kindly Ones, was the most surprising, with its intimate look at an episode of Nick's childhood (yes, it felt a bit Proustian) and with a whole page of startling "I"'s that Nick finally gives us. Though this has always been a first-person narration, Nick was previously much more circumspect about his own thoughts, sticking to being reportorial of everyone else. As he says in an understatement in this movement's first novel, At Lady Molly's: For my own part, I always enjoy hearing the details of other people's lives, whether imaginary or not... Why is Casanova's Chinese Restaurant my favorite so far? Because of its structure, the manipulation of time in its beginning and the increasing darkness. While these elements continue in The Kindly Ones (though humor and social satire are more prominent in the latter), the power of Casanova's Chinese Restaurant's very first paragraph and very last sentence (such a great metaphor!) has made it the most memorable for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "Marriage, as I have said, is a form of action, of violence almost; an assertion of the will. Its orbit is not to be chartered with precision, if misrepresentation and contrivance are to be avoided. Its facts can perhaps only be known by implication. It is a state from which all objectivity has been removed." ― Anthony Powell, At Lady Molly's “Wisdom is the power to admit that you cannot understand and judge the people in their entirety.” ― Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movemen "Marriage, as I have said, is a form of action, of violence almost; an assertion of the will. Its orbit is not to be chartered with precision, if misrepresentation and contrivance are to be avoided. Its facts can perhaps only be known by implication. It is a state from which all objectivity has been removed." ― Anthony Powell, At Lady Molly's “Wisdom is the power to admit that you cannot understand and judge the people in their entirety.” ― Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement The Second Movement (**SUMMER**) contains the following three novels: 1. At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4) -- read March 26, 2016 2. Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time, #5) -- read April 11, 2016 3. The Kindly Ones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #6) -- read May 3 , 2016 I read these three novels starting in late March 2016 and ending May 3, 2016. I've hyperlinked to my original reviews of each book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mikela

    Completing The 2nd Movement brings me to the half way point in Powell’s epic 12-book novel, A Dance to The Music of Time, and I find that I’m growing more and more enthralled with this novel the more I read of it. While the first 3 books, which make up the 1st Movement, deal with our narrator’s early life at school and young adulthood the 2nd Movement deals more with the various characters as they mature, their careers, marriages, infidelities and, for some, divorces in the years leading up to W Completing The 2nd Movement brings me to the half way point in Powell’s epic 12-book novel, A Dance to The Music of Time, and I find that I’m growing more and more enthralled with this novel the more I read of it. While the first 3 books, which make up the 1st Movement, deal with our narrator’s early life at school and young adulthood the 2nd Movement deals more with the various characters as they mature, their careers, marriages, infidelities and, for some, divorces in the years leading up to WW2. Powell portrays the changes in society during the years between the two wars with such vivid clarity that the reader is also drawn back in time and feels familiar there, that we too have seen those changes, have lived them, have suffered through them. As we learn more about each character we recognize them instantly as people we also know, we laugh with them, we cry with them and we feel anger and disdain for others. There are some excellent reviews of this novel that give you a in-depth and thoughtful critique, mine is simply my reaction and an encouragement to read this wonderful work. Suffice it to say, this novel is superb!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Since listening to the the First Movement of A Dance to the Music of Time a couple of months ago, I've been looking forward to returning to Nick Jenkins' world in London between the wars. I wasn't disappointed. In this Movement, Powell concentrates on relationships. He portrays relationships between siblings, marriages, love affairs, friendships: relationships that last and relationships that fracture. What with the lives of all the characters from the First Movement to catch up with, lots of ne Since listening to the the First Movement of A Dance to the Music of Time a couple of months ago, I've been looking forward to returning to Nick Jenkins' world in London between the wars. I wasn't disappointed. In this Movement, Powell concentrates on relationships. He portrays relationships between siblings, marriages, love affairs, friendships: relationships that last and relationships that fracture. What with the lives of all the characters from the First Movement to catch up with, lots of new characters to get to know, a complex structure, intelligent prose, wry humour and Simon Vance's excellent narration, I've had hours of listening enjoyment. While I'm not usually a big fan of sagas, this one I like very much. That's not to say that it doesn't have its weaknesses. For me the most significant weakness is that the female characters are (with a few exceptions) neither as interesting nor as well-developed as the male characters. However, I'm still very much looking forward to the Third Movement, which takes Nick and the others into World War II.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

    Outside the moon had gone behind a bank of cloud. I went home through the gloom, exhilarated, at the same time rather afraid. Ahead lay the region beyond the white-currant bushes, where the wild country began, where armies for ever campaigned, where the Rules and Disciplines of War prevailed. Another stage of life was passed, just as finally, just as irrevocably, as on that day when childhood had come so abruptly to an end at Stonehurst. Anthony Powell's epic A Dance to the Music of Time is some Outside the moon had gone behind a bank of cloud. I went home through the gloom, exhilarated, at the same time rather afraid. Ahead lay the region beyond the white-currant bushes, where the wild country began, where armies for ever campaigned, where the Rules and Disciplines of War prevailed. Another stage of life was passed, just as finally, just as irrevocably, as on that day when childhood had come so abruptly to an end at Stonehurst. Anthony Powell's epic A Dance to the Music of Time is some good reading but it's slow reading, and taking me a while to work through it. The 2nd Movement is volumes 4-6 of the 12-volume series: At Lady Molly's, Casanova's Chinese Restaurant, and The Kindly Ones. The 1st Movement covered Nick Jenkin's youth and early adulthood in the post-WWI years. Then he was a bachelor and up-and-coming writer in the Roaring 20s. The 2nd Movement brings us into the 1930s, with nary a mention of the Depression but growing talk of Hitler and Germany. By the end of The Kindly Ones, Britain is just on the verge of war, and Nick, who is now a married man, has joined the Army. This isn't a historical drama per se, though. A Dance to the Music of Time is, fittingly enough, very much like a painting. It's one of the most passively entertaining books I've ever read. It would be wrong to say nothing happens, because things do happen: people get married, they have affairs, they die or commit suicide, and Nick is constantly meeting people he met in earlier books at the most unexpected times, and the intricate web of social connections Powell has been laying for six books now is becoming as big and interconnected and drama-ful as your wankiest Facebook friend. Yet it all happens in a very dry, understated British manner. Sex and money scandals, implied homosexuality, wartime preparations, are all threads in a tapestry and sometimes you have to look carefully to see what's going on in this corner or that. You read this because you enjoy the character portraits and the writing. Frederica saw that she had said enough to command attention. To hold the key to information belonging by its essential nature to a sphere quite other than one's own gives peculiar satisfaction. Frederica was well aware of that. She paused for a second or two. The ransoming of our curiosity was gratifying to her. At Lady Molly's introduces us to Molly Jeavons, who initially appears to be just another slightly dotty rich lady at the center of another one of those vast social networks Nick is always running into. But she's introduced for a reason, because among all her acquaintances who will figure in Nick's future is her niece. She's barely mentioned at the time; she's barely mentioned throughout this volume, even though Nick marries her. Yup, Nick gets married and it hardly seems to make a ripple in his life, though if you look carefully, you can see the deeper currents, such as when Casanova's Chinese Restaurant opens with Nick visiting Isobel "in hospital" and it emerges in almost oblique reference that his wife has just had a miscarriage. Nick, as the first person narrator of the series, is probably the least emotional of all of Powell's characters, but that's because he alone only shows us what he wants us to see, whereas all the other characters are being viewed by him. How reliable a narrator is Nick? We never get any hints that he might be deceiving us, but he does filter the world through his own perception. He'll sometimes tell us what he thinks of someone, then admit that he later learned he was wrong, but we're still seeing the character through his eyes. The series matures in this volume, as Nick does, but Powell never stops injecting humor into it. The thing about Powell's humor is that he never tells you he's being funny or does anything to draw your attention to the fact that "Hahah! This is a humorous scene!" Just as he never provides any other outward markers of emotional context or mood: it's all right there in the dialog, or sometimes reading between the lines of Nick's internal monologue. I was particularly fond of Dr Trelawney, though, who is about as close as Powell has come so far to a purely comic relief character. Trelawney is a New Age huckster whom Nick reencounters when coming to lay his Uncle Giles to rest. Uncle Giles, you may recall, or will if you read the series, was Nick's father's brother, an eternally adrift and never very pleasant relation always stirring up money drama in the family. A typical Uncle Giles line: 'I like the little man they've got in Germany now,' he would remark, quite casually. Anyway, in The Kindly Ones, which is the volume that takes place on the eve of World War II, Nick is seeing to the late Uncle Giles' affairs, and at the same boarding house where Giles was staying, he finds both Dr Trelawney and Bob Duport, who is the ex-husband of Jean Duport nee Templer, sister of Nick's old school friend Peter Templer, with whom he carried on an adulterous affair some years before. (Nick and Jean, that is.) See, you really need to read the whole thing to get these characters straight. But it all makes sense if you read it! 'There was no mystery about your uncle's grousing,' said Duport. 'The only thing he was cheerful about was saying there would not be a war. What do you think, Dr Trelawney?' 'What will be, must be.' 'Which means war, in my opinion,' said Duport. 'The sword of Mithras, who each year immolates the sacred bull, will ere long now flash from its scabbard.' 'You've said it.' 'The slayer of Osiris once again demands his grievous tribute of blood. The Angel of Death will ride the storm.' 'Could this situation have been avoided?' I asked. 'The god, Mars, approaches the earth to lay waste. Moreover, the future is ever the consequence of the past.' 'And we ought to have knocked Hitler out when he first started making trouble?' I remember Ted Jeavons had held that view. 'The Four Horsemen are at the gate. The Kaiser went to war for shame of his withered arm. Hitler will go to war because at official receptions the tails of his evening coat sweep the floor like a clown's.' 'Seems an inadequate reason,' said Duport. 'Such things are a paradox to the uninstructed - to the adept they are clear as the morning light.' 'I must be one of the uninstructed,' said Duport. 'You are not alone in that.' 'Just one of the crowd?' 'Reason is given to all men, but all men do not know how to use it. Liberty is offered to each one of us, but few learn to be free. Such gifts are, in any case, a right to be earned, not a privilege for the shiftless.' 'How do you recommend earning it?' asked Duport, stretching out his long legs in front of him, slumping down into the depths of the armchair. 'I've got to rebuild my business connexions. I could do with a few hints.' 'The education of the will is the end of human life.' 'You think so?' 'I know.' 'But can you always apply the will?' said Duport. 'Could I have renewed my severed credits by the will?' 'I am concerned with the absolute.' 'So am I. An absolute balance at the bank.' 'You speak of material trifles. The great Eliphas Levi, whose precepts I quote to you, said that one who is afraid of fire will never command salamanders.' 'I don't need to command salamanders. I want to shake the metal markets.' 'To know, to dare, to will, to keep silence, those are the things required.' 'And what's the bonus for these surplus profits?' 'You have spoken your modest needs.' 'But what else can the magicians offer?' 'To be for ever rich, for ever young, never to die.' 'Do they indeed?' 'Such was in every age the dream of the alchemist.' 'Not a bad programme - let's have the blue-prints.' 'To attain these things, as I have said, you must emancipate the will from servitude, instruct it in the art of domination.' 'You should meet a mutual friend of ours called Widmerpool,' said Duport. 'He would agree with you. He's very keen on domination. Don't you think so, Jenkins?' It's hard to explain the appeal of this book with excerpts, but it's hilarious (very, very dry, and hilarious) when you read it all in context. This is really a fine work to appreciate at leisure, but I can't read the whole series all at once, it moves kind of like paint drying.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Renee M

    The series is just fascinating. Both for the characters which whirl in and out of the narrator's life and for the glimpse it gives into a world which no longer exists. This movement takes Nick into adulthood as he navigates life post academia in the world prior to WW I until the brink of WW II. In some ways "nothing" happens. In other ways it's the story of everything. It's at once a foreign world to my experience and a reflection of the kind of universal interactions we all have as we make our The series is just fascinating. Both for the characters which whirl in and out of the narrator's life and for the glimpse it gives into a world which no longer exists. This movement takes Nick into adulthood as he navigates life post academia in the world prior to WW I until the brink of WW II. In some ways "nothing" happens. In other ways it's the story of everything. It's at once a foreign world to my experience and a reflection of the kind of universal interactions we all have as we make our way into the land of adulthood.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David M

    Pleased to say things are moving along quite nicely. After finishing this today I had to immediately run out and get the final two volumes. After wandering indecisively through the first thousand or so pages of this opus, I now feel firmly committed. The looming catastrophe of war gives shape to this volume, particularly in Casanova's Chinese Restaurant and the Kindly Ones. Powell's style is generally quite conservative, but here he takes to scrambling time a bit through pro- and analepsis. It's Pleased to say things are moving along quite nicely. After finishing this today I had to immediately run out and get the final two volumes. After wandering indecisively through the first thousand or so pages of this opus, I now feel firmly committed. The looming catastrophe of war gives shape to this volume, particularly in Casanova's Chinese Restaurant and the Kindly Ones. Powell's style is generally quite conservative, but here he takes to scrambling time a bit through pro- and analepsis. It's not until the sixth novel in the sequence that the narrator speaks at all directly of his own childhood, and even then it's not so much for the sake of introspection as to anticipate and make sense of public events. Nick Jenkins can be a maddeningly self-effacing narrator. While he captures the most minute details of his friends out in society, the milestones of his own life are noted concisely in passing, usually without a hint of passion. The inner turmoil we associate with such things as love, adolescence, marriage, artistic creation, etc. seem at first to be left out entirely. But then this is where the inordinate length of the novel does indeed serve a purpose. Something happens, but then the meaning of the event is not immediately clear, nor is the narrator necessarily even sure how he feels about it. Years later, usually in conversation with an old friend or acquaintance, he may retrospectively stumble on his own emotions.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alisa

    I read the first 23 pages of "At Lady Molly's" 3 times before I got on - and then I couldn't stop. The secret, as has been the secret to every one of these, was....if only I had known, Widmerpool was only 4 or 5 pages beyond my stumbling point. Widmerpool, Widmerpool, he totally deserves a song, a tribute of some kind. It makes me wonder...who is the Widmerpool of my life? Does everyone have one? Or only the blessed? The rest of this went by in a flash. Much of the emotional and social re-arrangi I read the first 23 pages of "At Lady Molly's" 3 times before I got on - and then I couldn't stop. The secret, as has been the secret to every one of these, was....if only I had known, Widmerpool was only 4 or 5 pages beyond my stumbling point. Widmerpool, Widmerpool, he totally deserves a song, a tribute of some kind. It makes me wonder...who is the Widmerpool of my life? Does everyone have one? Or only the blessed? The rest of this went by in a flash. Much of the emotional and social re-arranging took place here. Unexpected alliances formed, then broken, only to be re-formed along more surreal lines.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ruthiella

    And so the Dance continues as Nick moves in to his 30’s, meets his wife and adds her large family to his ever orbiting friends and acquaintances while Europe edges ever closer to world war. This volume also provides an interesting glimpse of Nick’s parents and his childhood and introduces composer Hugh Moreland who briefly supplants Barnaby, the painter, as Nick’s companion about town. There is quite a bit of musing about “Will” and action versus inaction. Someone probably wrote a dissertation o And so the Dance continues as Nick moves in to his 30’s, meets his wife and adds her large family to his ever orbiting friends and acquaintances while Europe edges ever closer to world war. This volume also provides an interesting glimpse of Nick’s parents and his childhood and introduces composer Hugh Moreland who briefly supplants Barnaby, the painter, as Nick’s companion about town. There is quite a bit of musing about “Will” and action versus inaction. Someone probably wrote a dissertation on this. I don’t want to think that hard, but I found myself thinking that Windmerpoole (forever turning up like a bad penny) is the perfect example of this idea. He asserts his will over everything; bulldozes through life. I am enjoying this series immensely and already plan to read Invitation to the Dance by Hilary Spurling when I finely finish all the books. Only 6 more to go!

  13. 5 out of 5

    J M

    Undoubtedly reading Anthony Powell is a guilty pleasure. Many people find the world he describes - of the white male elite of London in the interwar years - deeply unattractive. Who would want to spend time with these immensely privileged, yet small-minded and xenophobic people? And who could put up for long with the formal, precise to the point of finicky, prose-style they cultivated and which the first person narrator, Nick, book critic and would-be novelist, has honed to perfection? And yet, P Undoubtedly reading Anthony Powell is a guilty pleasure. Many people find the world he describes - of the white male elite of London in the interwar years - deeply unattractive. Who would want to spend time with these immensely privileged, yet small-minded and xenophobic people? And who could put up for long with the formal, precise to the point of finicky, prose-style they cultivated and which the first person narrator, Nick, book critic and would-be novelist, has honed to perfection? And yet, Powell's writing has the ability to transport the reader entirely to this world and engage us in the preoccupations of his characters as they move on from their school and university days (described in the First Movement) to their twenties as they establish careers and consider marriage, while the Second World War looms. Nick's character becomes subtly more complex in the four novels which make up the Second Movement, from uncertain, largely detached observer to someone whose perspectives on friends, relations and acquaintances can be intuited from the detail to which he points you, or what he leaves unsaid. I particularly enjoy his non-commital conversations with the dreadful Widmerpool, which effectively reveal ever greater layers of self-obsession. While the the First Movement is largely linear, the Second Movement has a more complex structure moving back and forward in time, and thus showing characters and events at different stages of development. Certain events cause Nick to revisit his childhood, which seemed to have been firmly left behind at the end of the First Movement, and thus to return to some characters whose trajectories are thus revealed to be more complex, and to discover others not mentioned before. The notion that a different memoir could be written in response to a different trigger is intriguing: what if Proust had eaten a brioche instead of a madeleine? I found the start of 'At Casanova's Chinese Restaurant' (the fifth book of the series) arresting when I first read it, and it is a good illustration of what attracts and repels readers. The careful framing of this novel by a future event (the London blitz in which the pub which forms the location for much of the action has been bombed) introduces us to a new character (Moreland) and simultaneously sets the limits of the story: the friendship started in this novel will, like the pub, be destroyed. Its vision, which sees a strange attraction in destruction, is a leitmotif for the whole sequence of novels, in which the characters' self-absorption leads, in many cases, to their own downfall, as we read on, both fascinated and appalled. If you find this engaging and want to read on, you will be hooked, as I am (but please start at the beginning of the First Movement). If you hate the kind of writing that uses words like 'purlieus' and drips with subordinate clauses, you will hate it: "Crossing the road by the bombed-out public house on the corner and pondering the mystery which dominates vistas framed by a ruined door, I felt for some reason glad the place had not yet been rebuilt. A direct hit had excised even the ground floor so that the basement was revealed as a sunken garden, or site of archaeological excavation long abandoned, where great sprays of willow herb and ragwort flowed through cracked paving stones; only a few broken milk bottles and a laceless boot recalling contemporary life. In the midst of this sombre grotto five or six fractured steps had withstood the explosion and formed a projecting island of masonry on the summit of which rose the door. Walls on both sides were shrunk away, but along its lintel, in niggling copybook handwriting, could still be distinguished the world 'Ladies'. Beyond, on the far side of the twin pillars and crossbar, nothing whatever remained of the promised retreat, the threshold falling steeply to an abyss of rubble; a triumphal arch erected laboriously by dwarfs, or the gateway to some unknown, forbidden domain, the lair of sorcerers. Then all at once, as if such luxurious fantasy were not already enough, there came from this unexplored country the song, strong and marvellously sweet, of the blonde woman on crutches, that itinerant prima donna of the highways whose voice I had not heard since the day, years before, when Moreland and I had listened in Gerrard Street, the afternoon he talked of getting married; when we had bought the bottle labelled Tawny Wine (port flavour) which even Moreland had been later unwilling to drink. Now once more above the rustle of traffic that same note swelled on the grimy air, contriving a transformation scene to recast those purlieus into the vision of an oriental dreamland, artificial, if you like, but still quite alluring, under the shifting clouds of a cheerless Soho sky. ‘Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar. Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell?’ "

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dara Salley

    I took a significant (years long) break between reading the first and second volumes of this four-book series. This leisurely pace kind of fits the novel, which deals with the passage to time through the life of the protagonist, Jenkins. The downside was that I forgot many of the multitudes of characters that populate the book. The key to the enjoyment of this lengthy series is to immerse yourself in the characters. Powell does an incredible job of making each character memorable and vivid. Once I took a significant (years long) break between reading the first and second volumes of this four-book series. This leisurely pace kind of fits the novel, which deals with the passage to time through the life of the protagonist, Jenkins. The downside was that I forgot many of the multitudes of characters that populate the book. The key to the enjoyment of this lengthy series is to immerse yourself in the characters. Powell does an incredible job of making each character memorable and vivid. Once the characters are established the reader can observe as they grow, marry, cheat, succeed and self-destruct. Through Jenkins the reader is let into a rarified world that is usually closed to outsiders. It’s the privileged world of a white man in England in the 1900’s, who knows the right people. From an early age Jenkins is accepted into the lives of lords and ladies, almost as a member of the family. He knows their intimate secretes, ambitions and weaknesses. He has a unique vantage point to view the crumbling of upper class privilege that occurred between the two world wars. This makes the novel sound ponderous, but it’s not. It is decidedly humorous in a dry, British way. Powell follows in the footsteps of the best British writers in creating absurd and ridiculous portraits of various members of British society. I often think of British caricatures in terms of animals. The grumpy bulldog, the twittering bird, the slimy snake. Powell’s characters are not drawn as broad as that, but with enough exaggeration to make the novel rise about pure, dull reality. It’s a pleasure to spend time in his world. It’s funny and elite, with unexpected moments of sadness and poignancy. It’s a good thing it’s so enjoyable, I have two more volumes to go.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    he meets his future wife and marries but doesn't say much about her though has a great passage about marriage on page 97 of the first book; WWII is on the horizon, ominous...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Cregor

    Since this book is the second in a series of four novels (actually twelve...but...), it is difficult to entirely know how to review it. Does it stand on its own merits? Yes. Anthony Powell is no doubt one of England's most accomplished and "British" authors. This is apparent in this work, with Powell's vivid, eloquent sense of humor and absolute joy of using language to depict the dealings of mankind. After reading this "movement", I did some research on Powell's (pronounced like/pole/) life. Inter Since this book is the second in a series of four novels (actually twelve...but...), it is difficult to entirely know how to review it. Does it stand on its own merits? Yes. Anthony Powell is no doubt one of England's most accomplished and "British" authors. This is apparent in this work, with Powell's vivid, eloquent sense of humor and absolute joy of using language to depict the dealings of mankind. After reading this "movement", I did some research on Powell's (pronounced like/pole/) life. Interesting. As with Dickens's masterpiece, DAVID COPPERFIELD, there are parallels to the author's life, making the details the text offers on the lives of the characters even more intriguing. Fact, they say, is stranger than fiction. If this is so, and Powell, wrote these novels based on his real-life experiences and interactions with others...gulp. England's middle and upper crust were living the "vida loca" in the 30's and 40's. The main character is Nicholas Jenkins. Towards the end of this novel, he is a little over thirty years old. World War II is beginning to grip Europe. Jenkins, much younger than many of his fellow military men, joins up with the war effort. Wouldn't you know it? Anthony Powell joined a regiment...and was more than ten years older than most of the men he worked with. The war? World War II. More parallels are apparent, but there is no need to delineate them here. To call the work "gripping", thus far, would be...well, a lie. That is not what impresses me. My mind is drawn to the work because of how accurately Powell is able to depict the way other lives affect ours, for...a lifetime. And, in addition, the story seems to convey how really "small" we truly are in the events which sweep through nations and the world, and yet how significant we feel, in spite of this truth. *********************************************************************************************************** FAVORITE QUOTES: Work, sometimes organized at artificially high pressure, would alternate with stretches of time in which a chaotic nothingness reigned: periods when, surrounded by the inanities and misconceptions of the film world, some book conceived in terms of comparative reality would to some extent alleviate despair. Everyone knows the manner in which some specific name will recur several times in quick succession from different quarters; part of that inexplicable magic throughout life that makes us suddenly think of someone before turning a street corner and meeting him, or her, face to face. In the same way, you may be struck, reading a book, by some obscure passage or lines of verse, quoted again, quite unexpectedly, twenty-four hours later. I was firmly of the opinion that even the smallest trace of nostalgia for the immediate past was better avoided. A bracing future was required, rather than vain regrets. Realism goes with good birth...The statement might be hard to substantiate universally, but, by recognizing laws of behaviors operating within the microcosm of a large, consanguineous network of families, however loosely connected, individuals born into such a world often gain an unsentimental grasp of human conduct: a grasp sometimes superior to that of apparently more perceptive persons whose minds are unattuned by early association to the constant five and take of an ancient and tenacious social organism. I found later that she was indeed what is called a "tease", perhaps the only outward indication that her inner life was not altogether happy; since there is not greater sign of innate misery than a love of teasing. "...melancholy is the curse of the upper class." Life is full of internal dramas, instantaneous and sensational, played to an audience of one. This was just such a performance. As an aspect of my past he was an element to be treated with interest, if not affection, like some unattractive building or natural feature of the landscape which brought back the irrational nostalgia of childhood. "...the determination that existence must be governed by the will." His manner of asking personal questions was of that kind not uncommonly to be found which is completely divorced from any interest in the answer. There is, for some reason, scarcely any subject more difficult to treat with gravity if you are not yourself involved. Where the opposite sex is concerned, especially in relation to marriage, the workings of the imagination, or knowledge of the individuals themselves, are overwhelmed by the subjective approach. Only by admitting complete ignorance from the start can some explanation sometimes slowly be built up. Most individual approaches to love, however unexpected, possess a logic of their own; for only by attempting to find some rationalization of love in the mind can its burdens be easily borne. Such rough and ready accommodation might easily be in keeping with his tenets: except that the sofa looked rather too comfortable to assuage at night-time his guilt for being rich. It was easy to see that he found the afflictions of the human condition hard even to contemplate; indeed, took many of them as his own personal responsibility. Like [him], he did not care for eating or drinking: was probably actively opposed to such sensual enjoyments, which detracted from preferable conceptions of pure power. In due course one learns, where individuals and emotions are concerned, that Time's slide-rule can make unlikely adjustments. So often one thinks that individuals and situations cannot be so extraordinary as they seem from outside: only to find that the truth is a thousand times odder. What was it Foch said, "War not an exact science, but a terrible and passionate drama? " Something like that. Fact is, marriage is rather like that too. I suppose one might be said to be true to a woman in TIme and unfaithful to her in Space. The great artists have always decided beforehand what form looks are to take in the world... The lusty spring smells well; but drooping autumn tastes well... Gossip is the passion of his life, his only true emotion--but he can also put you on the rack about music. However much one hears about individuals, the picture formed in the mind rarely approximates to the reality. I turned over the pages of an illustrated book about opera, chiefly looking at the pictures, but thinking, too, of the curious, special humor of musicians, and also of the manner in which they write; ideas, words and phrases gushing out like water from a fountain, so utterly unlike the stiff formality of painters' prose. I discounted [his] casual outbursts against marriage as an institution; indeed, took his word for it that, as he used to explain, these complaints were a sign of living in a world of reality, not a palace of dreams. "We can all settle down happily to discussions every evening about Love and Duty." "Fascinating subjects." " They are in one's own life. Less so, where others are concerned." "Truth Unveiled by Time" [ a small bronze] If one hasn't any self-discipline, something of the sort unfortunately has to be applied from the outside. That odd feeling of excitement began to stir within me always provoked by news of other people's adventures in love; accompanied as ever by a sense of sadness, of regret, almost jealousy, inward emotions that express, like nothing else in life, life's irrational dissatisfactions. I know you are married to him, and marriage gives everyone all sorts of special rights where complaining is concerned. Do you too suffer in your domestic life--of which you speak with such a wealth of disillusionment--from the particular malaise I describe: the judgment of terrible silences? This glimpse of him, then total physical removal, brought home, too, the blunt postscript of death. There is probably something wrong about thinking you've realized your ideal--in art or anywhere else. It is a conception that should remain in the mind. The fact is most people have not the smallest idea what is going on round them. Their conclusions about life are based on utterly irrelevant--and usually inaccurate--premises. All sides of such a situation are seldom shown at once, even if they are shown at all. Only one thing was certain. Love had received one of those shattering jolts to which it is peculiarly vulnerable from extraneous circumstance. ...the Greeks, because they so greatly feared the Furies, had named them the Eumenides---the Kindly Ones--flattery intended to appease their terrible wrath. Verbal description of everything, however, must remain infinitely distant from the thing itself, overstatement and understatement sometimes hitting off the truth better than a flat assertion of bare fact. Bearing in mind, therefore, the all but hopeless task of attempting to express accurately the devious involutions of human character and emotions. "Just like a man, " [she] used to say, in her simile for human behavior at its lowest, most despicable. As a child you are in some ways more acutely aware of what people feel about one another than you are when childhood has come to an end. "The Essence of All is the Godhead of the True." Human beings are sad dupes, I fear. The priesthood would have a thin time of it were that not so. In due course, as he grew older, [he] became increasingly committed to this exclusion of what made him think, so that finally he disliked not only books, but also people---even places---that threatened to induce this disturbing mental effect. On the contrary...the day---with its antithesis night---is but an artificial appointment of what we artlessly call Time. Is art action, an alternative to action, the enemy of action, or nothing whatever to do with action? I have no objection to action. I merely find it impossible to locate. Is it better to love somebody and not have them, or have somebody and not love them...from the point of view of action---living intensely. Does action consist in having or loving? In having--naturally--it might first appear. Loving is just emotion, not action at all. But is that correct? I'm not sure...Or is action only when you bring off both--loving and having...I get the worst of all worlds, failing to have the people I love, wasting time over the others, whom I equally fail to have. The arts derive entirely from taking decisions...That is why they make such unspeakably burdensome demands on all who practice them. ...he must have moved further to the Left--or would it be to the Right? Extremes of policy have such a tendency to merge. He took no pleasure in reading. No doubt that was a wise precaution for a man of action, whose imagination must be rigorously disciplined, if the will is to remain unsapped by daydreams. He looked hard, even rather savage, as if he had made up his mind to endure life rather than, as formerly, to enjoy it. ...for although by then I no longer thought about her, there is always a morbid interest in following the subsequent career of a woman with whom one has once been in love. One is never a student at all in England. ...my observation shows me that undergraduates having nothing in common with what is understood abroad by the word student--young men for ever rioting, undertaking political assassination, overturning governments. I don't know. Love means such different things to different people. She was starting a baby. I wondered what life would be like lived in this largely memoryless condition. Better? Worse? Not greatly different? It was an interesting question. I was bound to him throughout eternity...I had undermined my own critical standing.[His] emergence in this manner cut a savage incision across Time. There was nothing like facing facts. They blew into the face hard, like a stiff, exhilarating, decidedly gritty breeze, which brought sanity with it, even though sanity might be unwelcome. Every man bears on his forehead the story of his days, an open volume to the initiate. Reason is given to all men, but all men do not know how to use it. Liberty is offered to each one of us, but few learn to be free. Such gifts are, in any case, a right to be earned, not a privilege for the shiftless. The education of the will is the end of human life. To attain these things, as I have said, you must emancipate the will from servitude, instruct it in the art of domination. One always imagines things happen in hot blood...An ill-considered remark starts a row. Hard words follow, misunderstandings. Matters can be put right in the end. Unfortunately, life doesn't work out like that. First of all there is no row, secondly, nothing can be put right. One of the worst things about life is not how nasty the nasty people are. You know that already. It is how nasty the nice people can be. In real life, things are much worse than as represented in books. In books, you love somebody and want them, win them or lose them. In real life, so often, you love them and don't want them, or want them and don't love them. You know, one of the things about being deserted is that it leaves you in a semi-castrated condition. You're incapable of fixing yourself up with an alternative girl. Deserting people, on the other hand, is positively stimulating.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Battaglia

    Stories set just before WWII are almost automatically interesting, especially when the story is written some time after the events depicted, thus allowing the author to indulge in delightful bits of foreshadowing, giving the whole affair an atmosphere of impending doom the likes of which the characters simply cannot conceive. It'd be like watching footage of a town going about its business right before a tornado hits. You know something bad is going to happen and they're got a pretty decent idea Stories set just before WWII are almost automatically interesting, especially when the story is written some time after the events depicted, thus allowing the author to indulge in delightful bits of foreshadowing, giving the whole affair an atmosphere of impending doom the likes of which the characters simply cannot conceive. It'd be like watching footage of a town going about its business right before a tornado hits. You know something bad is going to happen and they're got a pretty decent idea that something bad is about to happen but beyond that feeling it's impossible to really put into words and as it turns out, words aren't quite adequate for the sensation of having not only your whole world upended but an entire way of life being swept away in the matter of a few years, never to return again. If you have any idea what this sensation is like, congratulations, you were probably a member of the British upper class in the waning days of when being rich was your ticket to printing your license to being absolutely awesome. It's one thing to have an idea that you're better than other people, it's another to have God and circumstance prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are better than everyone else, except for your peers, who are pretty cool, too. At least when they're not trying to steal your spouse or otherwise overshadow you. But these are petty details, old bean. In the second movement comprising the next group of three novels that ultimately number to twelve, Powell continues to march his narrator Nick Jenkins through both society and those aforementioned pre-war years in merry olde England. For the most part anyone who liked the style in the three novels is going to be just as amused here as Powell seemed to enter into the series fully-formed, there's very little sense of him finding his footing or getting used to a certain prose style. While it's a little disappointing to not really see him striving for new heights or experimenting with the format slightly (except for a notable sequence in the sixth novel here, which we'll get to) there is something to be said for comforting consistency and anyone who reads this series is probably going to quickly discover whether it's worth their time to read all twelve books or not. Part of this is because Powell does make this look extraordinarily easy, using the narration to cleverly mask or wallpaper over what should be blatant plot-hammering coincidences (such as Jenkins being the 1930s English equivalent of Kevin Bacon, not only connected to but capable of running into pretty much anyone he's ever met ever at any random place he happens to be at, by the sixth time this happens in the course of a single novel you pretty much have to just roll with it) and allowing that smooth, gently comic voice to let the characters dart at each other as they find themselves ranting, arguing, agreeing, debating, pontificating about life and art and politics whenever the need arises, all the while letting Jenkins remain the detached commentator on the scene. Powell's gift for characterization and his ability to set a scene are the reasons to stick with this series beyond anything else. Jenkins as a narrator remains likable but the insights come more from watching the characters go through their paces than anything he says or does in particular. Once in a a while he gets a good line in (most of them involving that unstoppable plot-bending phenomenon known as Widmerpool) but he also continues to be frustratingly obtuse, hardly relaying any information to the reader about his personal life beyond what he tells other people (a personal tragedy is only commented on in dialogue and you'd even think the guy was married for all the scenes that exist with his wife), which means that the scenes themselves better sing or we're going to be in for a very boring three thousand page journey. But it delivers. Novels like "At Lady Molly's" basically exist to continually feed us set pieces where the characters run into each other and have excuses to interact, but the initial party at Lady Molly's and the later encounters with the head of the Tolland family at their cottage all sparkle in how true to life they seem even when the scenes are structured for the maximum comic effect. Powell has a gift for making some characters come across as both buffonish high comedy and realistic eccentrics (notably Errige Tolland) and their interactions only seek to liven up the story. At the very least their scenes kill time until Jenkins inevitably runs into Widmerpool, who then proceeds to twist the novel without fail into a shape more pleasing to him, as if he has a certain gravity and thus the ability to warp all of space around him. He's one of those characters that in a movie version would probably be played by Michael Shannon ("Revolutionary Road" era, not whatever acting muscles are required to play a Kryptonian general), and his rampant singlemindledness and inability to be kept down no matter what the situation is make you not care that Jenkins seems to run into him around every corner. Things start to get more serious with "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant", despite the goofy name. The interweaving of flashbacks in a story that seems to be all flashback start to become more purposeful, as Jenkins runs back in time to give background details he missed the first time before roaming forward in his roughly linear fashion. Not only are worldwide events heating up (the Spanish Civil War is often a topic of conversation) but the series starts to achieve something resembling a body count (inevitable in a series called "A Dance to the Music of Time" and "Yay Everyone Lives Forever") as at least one minor character bites it and another commits suicide, all the strayings and arguments beginning to take their toll on people as they leave each other for other lovers with an offhand casualness. A standout scene set at the unveiling of a new symphony showcases Powell's ability to weave all the characters and themes together seamlessly, moving from comedy to drama to a darker kind of drama as one longtime character's drinking problem stops being so funny. It never goes as dark as you might expect, hardly deviating from the lightly witty comic tone set by the earlier novels (if I've got one complaint about the series it's probably that it's like smooth jazz, it seeps into the brain nice and easy but never hits the real searing emotions that a story like this probably should) but Powell keeps events proceeding like a well oiled machine. "The Kindly Ones" probably has the most surprises (mostly that it's not the pivotal Neil Gaiman arc in "Sandman" although both titles are referring to the same thing, i.e. the Furies of Greek mythology), especially in the opening sequence flashing back to British life and Jenkins' homelife just before WWI breaks out, giving us a day in the life before British society experiences its first seismic shift, and then proceeding to the rest of the novel in the days before society cracks open entirely and never becomes the same again. There's a gentle daffyness to it but again, knowing what's going to happen later adds a weight to the events that the novel never has to explicitly state. The onrush of the nearing war puts a thin coat on everything, putting a blinking but blurred sign in the background that proclaims "This Is About to Get Real", whether it's the sight of Widmerpool in an army uniform, the constant talk of whether Germany is going to invade Poland (and whether the non-aggression pact between Russia and Germany is a bad thing or not (hint: yes)), or Jenkins' attempts to get himself enlisted as an officer so he can do his part. The novel is bookended by two of the more remarkable scenes in the book, the aforementioned opening in the pre-WWI days (almost a short story in itself and showcasing Powell's ability to convey a history without delving into too much actual detail) and the closing scenes as Jenkins has to clean up after the death of a relative as war breaks out around him. He runs into an old flame of an old flame, watches a man go through the throes of a drug addiction and even gets to mix it up with Widmerpool one last time before everything goes abruptly downhill. That thematic weight winds up making the book thus far the most memorable the series, if only because they feel more attuned to history and about something more than simply watching people be mean to each other at parties. The whole point of the series seems to be giving us a front-row seat to the gradual collapse of a way of life without the people in that way of life realizing what's happening but the start of the war is such a pivotal shift that it's like spending five books watching all the dominoes be set up so that everything descending into madness can knock them all down. The question will remain who will still be standing when all the dust settles (my money is on Widmerpool, the legend that walks like a man) and it's that infusion of real history that quietly accelerates a series that is gently amusing but has been so deliberate in its laying out of what it's trying to say that you could start to wonder if the series was just going to smoothly skate over its own themes with all the grace of an expert but never let you get close enough to see the sweat forming on their brow. I don't need Powell to show me the work but six novels in that strike different subtle variations of the same tone it's fair to wonder if we'd be in for six more novels of this before Jenkins calls it a day. The ending of "The Kindly Ones" suggests both a shift and a focus and the fact that it comes at this moment is probably yet another sign of how precisely planned this whole enterprise is.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I enjoyed this, but wasn't utterly captivated as I was with the First Movement. And I found it harder to keep track of what was going on. So apologies for all the spoilers, but I need to note plot points here as a reference for the next two volumes. (And I wish I'd done it with Volume 1). The burlesque tone of Book 4 is signalled by the title, At Lady Molly's, since the name Molly is more often associated with servants than with the aristocracy. It is 1934 and the Great Depression is in full swi I enjoyed this, but wasn't utterly captivated as I was with the First Movement. And I found it harder to keep track of what was going on. So apologies for all the spoilers, but I need to note plot points here as a reference for the next two volumes. (And I wish I'd done it with Volume 1). The burlesque tone of Book 4 is signalled by the title, At Lady Molly's, since the name Molly is more often associated with servants than with the aristocracy. It is 1934 and the Great Depression is in full swing, but there is little commentary about this (except perhaps obliquely in that Nick's work as a scriptwriter meets with little success). Widmerpool turns up again, this time with plans to marry twice-widowed and slightly barmy Mildred Haycock, whose parents are much puzzled by this upstart and they badger Nick about his antecedents throughout the novel. Coincidental meetings abound. Nick bumps into Quiggin and they set off together for a weekend visit to the country where Quiggin and Mona Templer are staying in a cottage. This visit facilitates a meeting with the eccentric Lord Warminster, otherwise known as Erridge, because he owns the cottage. Their excursion to the Tolland estate, Thrubworth Park, leads to Nick meeting up with Isobel, his future wife. Then there is a subsequent visit to Umfraville's nightclub with Lady Molly's husband Ted Jeavons - and who should be there but lo! the ubiquitous Widmerpool, together with Mrs Haycock and Templer. Somehow I knew that the Widmerpool engagement would fall through because he is clearly destined for greater things. Book 5 (Casanova's Chinese Restaurant) begins with some recapitulations from the 1920s so that characters can be introduced or revisited, the most memorable of whom are Mr Deacon, the composer Moreland and the McLinticks whose disastrous marriage is dissected in gloomy detail. Nick, on the other hand, marries Isobel but there is very little about this, Isobel making only occasional appearances to visit other more significant characters such as Matilda Moreland when she goes into hospital to have a baby, an episode that also allows for an encounter with Widmerpool who is having treatment for unmentionable ailments that he is only too happy to talk about. (Ugh!) Nick's new in-laws the Tollands deplore (in the usual laid-back way) Erridge's escapade in the Spanish Civil War. And Stringham, more than a little pickled, turns up at a party given by Mrs Foxe (to celebrate Moreland's new symphony) but he is quickly whisked away by the indefatigable Miss Weeden. (Of whom, more in the next book). By Book 6 (The Kindly Ones) patterns begin to emerge as the story moves to the period between the wars, together with a somewhat disorientating flashback to just before WW1. Nick's marriage thus far has defied the trend towards divorce and remarriage. It's interesting that the commentary is so sanguine about this, I expect that most readers would have formed the impression that flimsy marriages are a comparatively recent phenomenon. Divorce was always affordable for the upper classes long before ordinary people could access it, but I had thought that divorced women were social pariahs. Certainly not so in this book! The decline of the aristocratic classes seems to gather pace in this volume. Miss Weeden makes a startling marriage usurping affronted offspring, and Widmerpool becomes a military man of note. Even allowing for his self-aggrandising claims to have access to major military secrets, he has clearly grasped the opportunities offered by war - not just social opportunities afforded by rank but also investment opportunities. Nick, on the other hand is still floundering around going nowhere much, and only succeeds in getting a commission by chance. As estates are requisitioned for military purposes and the prospect of having to take in evacuees is only forestalled by discreet corruption of the process, the writing seems to be on the wall for the leisured classes. It is a scene at Stourwater which sets the tone of The Kindly Ones (an ironic title, since it alludes to the vengeful Greek furies). In the year before the war, Nick visits the Morelands in the country and along with Templer they go to dinner at Sir Magnus Donners' stately home. As an amusement they decide to perform a series of tableaux, dressing up as The Seven Deadly Sins so that Sir Magnus can photograph them with his new camera. It is Lust, of course, that causes the trouble, and Templer's second wife, Betty, whose mental health is noticeably fragile from the outset, has a nervous breakdown. Just before the war Uncle Giles dies and there is another burlesque, this time at one of those Fawlty Towers type seaside hotels, run by Albert (who used to be cook for the Jenkins' family). Dr Trelawney gets stuck in the bathroom only to be released by Nick’s incantation of the pseudo-religious mumbo-jumbo that Trelawney preaches. This calms Trelawney down so that he ‘masters his asthma’, tries the key again and lo! the door opens. Dupont turns up again, sleazy as ever, but when Nick’s curiosity gets the better of him he soon comes to regret Dupont’s confidences about his ex-wife Jean and (unknown to Dupont) Nick's former lover. Like many a man tolerant of male philandering (including his own) Nick isn’t as sanguine about women using men for their own purposes. On to The Third Movement!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gary Lee

    Novels 4-6 of Powell's overall twelve At Lady Molly's -- 3/5 The growing pains of adulthood are over, and the characters have settled into life a bit more comfortably. Templer and Stringham have been reduced to occasional cameos and background figures; Members and Quiggin have taken their respective places as sidekicks. And Widmerpool has evolved in Jenkins' thematic counterpoint -- fate vs. will. This one started out sloooooooowly. Drawing room discussions about the grumblings of the growing disse Novels 4-6 of Powell's overall twelve At Lady Molly's -- 3/5 The growing pains of adulthood are over, and the characters have settled into life a bit more comfortably. Templer and Stringham have been reduced to occasional cameos and background figures; Members and Quiggin have taken their respective places as sidekicks. And Widmerpool has evolved in Jenkins' thematic counterpoint -- fate vs. will. This one started out sloooooooowly. Drawing room discussions about the grumblings of the growing dissent in pre-WWII eastern Europe, psychoanalysis, Communism, anti-Fascism -- all within the first 100 pages. There's even a brief discussion of Woolf's recently published Orlando. But the second half fared much better -- engagements made, engagements broken off; affairs ended, affairs began; old characters popping up in unlikely places. Uneven, to be sure, but the second half was enjoyable enough to make up for having to slog through the first half. Casanova's Chinese Restaurant -- 4/5 This one started out almost as slow as the previous novel, but also started out quite differently from any of the others (so far). Up to this point, all of the novels have followed a straightforward, chronological order; this fifth installment, however, starts at a time somewhere between the second and third novels. Memory is oft-times faulty and doesn't always follow a linear, chronological path -- so why should these novels be expected to. And much like the last novel, this novel (once it jumps ahead to the current point in the story) finds the characters even older and dealing with a world that is growing older with them. There are marriages, affairs, miscarriages, death, suicide, a quick descent into alchoholism -- all in the ever-growing shadow of the looming Nazi uprising. I enjoyed this one more than the previous installment. It started out slow and tedious, but (much like with the last novel) the last two chapters more than made up for the first two. The Kindly Ones -- 5/5 Yet another fantastic third-book from Powell's arch. Starting out with another strange shift, the novel begins with a scene from Jenkins' childhood. Jenkins' parents and early home life are fleshed out a bit, and we're introduced to the messiah-in-waiting of Dr. Trelawney. Once the narrative shifts back to the current point, the story really soars. The plot continues to move forward -- a major-ish character dies, marriages are ended, babies are made, war finally begins to break out; however the novel also acts as a recap for everything that has happened up to this halfway point -- every character is at least heard from/about if they aren't actually seen, and previous events begin to tie in together and connect. Powell continually looks backwards as he moves the reader forwards. So far, this has been my favorite novel of the bunch. But once again, I'm left wondering if it has to do with the actual strength of the novel itself, or if it simply has to do with how well Powell brings everything together and justifies the previous five novels.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    “My father,” says Nick Jenkins, the narrator of Anthony Powell’s four movement, twelve novel, social epic, “really hated clarity.” To a certain degree Nick shares this quality. He is a close observer of others but a reserved, even evasive chronicler of events where he is not a witness but the subject. It is frustrating, intentionally so, but revealing in its own way. In this movement we learn in what appears to be a transitional sentence that Nick meets the girl he knows he will marry. But we fo “My father,” says Nick Jenkins, the narrator of Anthony Powell’s four movement, twelve novel, social epic, “really hated clarity.” To a certain degree Nick shares this quality. He is a close observer of others but a reserved, even evasive chronicler of events where he is not a witness but the subject. It is frustrating, intentionally so, but revealing in its own way. In this movement we learn in what appears to be a transitional sentence that Nick meets the girl he knows he will marry. But we follow other characters romances, marriages, and divorces instead. Nick doesn’t properly introduce his readers to the girl he will marry or even address how or why he knew he was going to marry her. Instead, he woos and marries her in the white space between novels. We will learn that she is confined in a nursing hospital, along with another character’s wife, where Nick will meet up with Widmerpool after a few years of being out of touch and that’s mostly it as far as she goes (for now). But the blend of revelation and reticence that comprises Powell’s odd genius is deftly afoot and we follow what Nick sees and hears, not what is in his internal world. The promising literary, artistic, political, musical, and business careers waffle in the winds of indifference or failed capacity. The rise of the Nazis, the Spanish Civil War, and the coming world war throws deeper shadows on the lives of men and women who people the novel. Some new characters show up, some featured figures from the first movement depart. Characters are more mature, some worse for the wear (Stringham), and some bitter or inspired by how life in their 30s during the 30s can be. As the third novel ends, Nick is looking to get in the military as a new European war is arriving. His wife is in the country. Widmerpool is busy transitioning from business to military importance with the same officious, too serious view of himself. And the myriad other colorful characters are bracing themselves for patriotic disaster. Powell has deepened his portraits, expanded the stage of consideration, and complicated everyone’s choices. I am hooked and have already purchased the third movement of A Dance to the Music of Time.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    "A Dance to the Music of Time" is Anthony Powell's sequences of twelve novels which follow the narrator Nicholas Jenkins and his social circle from youth in the period following World War I to old age and death in the 1970s. Jenkins' reminisces are inspired by Poussin's classic painting where the four Seasons dance with arms linked, and this second trio of novels do represent the summer of life. AT LADY MOLLY'S, CASANOVA'S CHINESE RESTAURANT and THE KINDLY ONES cover the period From 1934 to 1939 "A Dance to the Music of Time" is Anthony Powell's sequences of twelve novels which follow the narrator Nicholas Jenkins and his social circle from youth in the period following World War I to old age and death in the 1970s. Jenkins' reminisces are inspired by Poussin's classic painting where the four Seasons dance with arms linked, and this second trio of novels do represent the summer of life. AT LADY MOLLY'S, CASANOVA'S CHINESE RESTAURANT and THE KINDLY ONES cover the period From 1934 to 1939. We see Jenkins settling into marriage, other characters divorcing and embarking on fiery second marriages, and yet more characters unable either from failure or unrelenting ambition to establish their comfortable niche in life. We continue to mainly inhabit upper-class drawing rooms and dinner parties. The tumultuous political events of 1930s Europe are only alluded to, and the characters who are caught up in the Spanish Civil War or appeasing Hitler do it offstage. Still, the plot continued to hold my interest, for Powell has a gift for depicting various personalities. Jenkins' schoolmates Templer, Stringham and Widmerpool return, and though Widmerpool comes more and more to seem the perverse antagonist of the series, Stringham and Templer fade in and out of Jenkins' life. A great many new characters are introduced, with Jenkins' wife's family, the Tollands, providing much of the drama. I've reviewed the individual novels in the Dance here on Goodreads, and if you want more information about each volume, look at those listings. But I will say here that in general I am happy that I pressed ahead with the Dance after the first "movement". The latter two novels in this part of the sequence are especially finely crafted, and the outbreak of World War II in THE KINDLY ONES put me in such suspense that I felt driven on to the third movement.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Simon Mcleish

    Originally published on my blog here in September 1999. The sixth volume of Powell's Dance to the Music of Time concludes the second trilogy within the series, Summer. Judging solely from internal evidence, this would be hard to see. The first two books deal with the second half of the thirties, the events in the back ground forming the lead-in to the Second World War. In The Kindly Ones, war breaks out, though remaining comparatively distant from everyday British life for the period sometimes kn Originally published on my blog here in September 1999. The sixth volume of Powell's Dance to the Music of Time concludes the second trilogy within the series, Summer. Judging solely from internal evidence, this would be hard to see. The first two books deal with the second half of the thirties, the events in the back ground forming the lead-in to the Second World War. In The Kindly Ones, war breaks out, though remaining comparatively distant from everyday British life for the period sometimes known as 'the Phoney War'. The rest of the background is shared with the other books from the first half of the series. The Kindly Ones doesn't seem to be an ending, more a transition between the peacetime and wartime novels. The title refers, of course, to the euphemistic term used by the Greeks to refer to the Furies, supernatural beings who avenged crimes against the family. (It was believed unlucky to refer to them more directly.) They most famously appear in the third play of Aeschylus' Oresteia, when their legal case against matricide Orestes is the foundation of the Athenian court, the Areopagus. The name was often used to refer to violent women, and I believe was applied to the suffragettes by their opponents. However, there are no appropriate women in the novel to suggest that this is the reason for the title. I found it difficult to see why Powell chose it at all, unless it has a reference to the outbreak of war. (As well as the Second World War, the novel contains a flashback to Jenkin's childhood, to the day on which Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, precipitating the First World War.)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ronald Wise

    A well-written story which follows a group of school boys through the two great wars of the 20th century and, for those who survived World War II, their integration into British society following that war. One of their classmates, Widmerpool, seems to pop up everywhere during the narrator's life, and to serve as a topic of humor. Widmerpool, despite his untiring efforts to be a respected member of British society, usually ends up being a type of schmurz. Unfortunately the library did not have a A well-written story which follows a group of school boys through the two great wars of the 20th century and, for those who survived World War II, their integration into British society following that war. One of their classmates, Widmerpool, seems to pop up everywhere during the narrator's life, and to serve as a topic of humor. Widmerpool, despite his untiring efforts to be a respected member of British society, usually ends up being a type of schmurz. Unfortunately the library did not have a complete collection of all four volumes of this series, so I had to read the Little, Brown publication for the first two movements, listen to the first two thirds of the third movement on tape, miss the last third of the third movement, and read the fourth movement from the University of Chicago edition. Actually hearing the third movement on tapes strengthened my visualization of the characters, especially Widmerpool. Of particular interest to me, from a historical perspective, was how effectively the two world wars and technology chipped away at British aristocratic bullshit. I learned of this collection through a tribute to Powell's birthday (12/21/1905) on Writer's Almanac and its inclusion on the Seattle Public Library's reading list "British Classics".

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    As befits the turbulent and increasingly ominous decade in which this sequence of novels is set (the 1930's), the "second movement" of Dance to the Music of Time has darker, more complex shadings than the first. The volume begins with Nick Jenkins's recollection of childhood events, weird and interesting in themselves, which turn out to precede the beginning of World War I; it ends with the onset of World War II. In between there are marriages, miscarriages, divorces, deaths; love affairs and bu As befits the turbulent and increasingly ominous decade in which this sequence of novels is set (the 1930's), the "second movement" of Dance to the Music of Time has darker, more complex shadings than the first. The volume begins with Nick Jenkins's recollection of childhood events, weird and interesting in themselves, which turn out to precede the beginning of World War I; it ends with the onset of World War II. In between there are marriages, miscarriages, divorces, deaths; love affairs and business deals come to naught; political and economical storm clouds gather. New characters enter, and familiar ones, often greatly changed by circumstance, reappear. Jenkins -- I am discovering -- is a very careful narrator, and doesn't reveal too much about himself, so part of the fun is finding out more about him, more than he wants to tell us; another enjoyment is the almost Dickensian wealth of eccentric secondary characters, like the raffish Jeavons, or his scatty wife Lady Molly, or the unfortunate embittered music critic Macklintick, or the ominous seeress Mrs. Erdleigh. It's all mesmerizing, and I'm both eager and somewhat fearful of what happen in Movement 3, which unfolds during World War II.

  25. 5 out of 5

    carl theaker

    The mix of relationships and entanglements continues 'At Lady Mollys' where things are hopping. Worn out by it all, Jenkins is feeling old and ready to settle down. 'Days of Our Lives' meets Masterpiece theater. 'Casanova's Chinese Restaurant' could well be called Powell's introspection on marriage. Jenkins marries, but this is mentioned as almost an aside. We meet Moreland, a composer who drags Jenkins over to the Maclinticks, the Mr. a music critic. There we witness the battling marriage from hell, The mix of relationships and entanglements continues 'At Lady Mollys' where things are hopping. Worn out by it all, Jenkins is feeling old and ready to settle down. 'Days of Our Lives' meets Masterpiece theater. 'Casanova's Chinese Restaurant' could well be called Powell's introspection on marriage. Jenkins marries, but this is mentioned as almost an aside. We meet Moreland, a composer who drags Jenkins over to the Maclinticks, the Mr. a music critic. There we witness the battling marriage from hell, both ready to strangle each other, yet they can't do without each other. This allows Moreland and Jenkins to philosophize on the institution at length. In 'The Kindly Ones' Powell continues on the intricacies of marriage. Again Jenkins' wife is rarely mentioned in any insights. Many situations occur involving spouses having to spend time with people who have previously slept with their mates, causing all kinds of consternations and musings about jealousy and attendant emotions. The Munich agreement is the current event subject and as the war begins, all the men want to be in the military.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    Book 4 At Lady Molly's (★★★★☆) Book 5 Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (★★★★☆) Book 6 The Kindly Ones (☆☆☆☆☆)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Brilliant. This sequence of books is one of the masterworks of the 20th century. Utterly addictive reading

  28. 5 out of 5

    Edmund Pickett

    see comments on first movement

  29. 5 out of 5

    Levi

    My favorite novel.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten "Ghost Deserved Better"

    This is an incredible achievement by the author. The central character (Nick Jenkins) is the observer and our guide to this world of middle class and upper class Brits from the pre-World War II period and (apparently) all the way to the 1960s by the last volume. A 12-volume set, I have finally hit the halfway mark. According to the audio extra at the end of this section (movement) states that there are actually over 300 (!!) characters in this series. One wonders how he kept track of all his cha This is an incredible achievement by the author. The central character (Nick Jenkins) is the observer and our guide to this world of middle class and upper class Brits from the pre-World War II period and (apparently) all the way to the 1960s by the last volume. A 12-volume set, I have finally hit the halfway mark. According to the audio extra at the end of this section (movement) states that there are actually over 300 (!!) characters in this series. One wonders how he kept track of all his characters. Considering when they were written, he must've used index cards. It is hard for me, however, to keep track of them. But I do like these books. They are like taking a long river cruise through British society.

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