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A Dance to the Music of Time – his brilliant 12-novel sequence, which chronicles the lives of over three hundred characters, is a unique evocation of life in twentieth-century England. The novels follow Nicholas Jenkins, Kenneth Widmerpool and others, as they negotiate the intellectual, cultural and social hurdles that stand between them and the “Acceptance World.”


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A Dance to the Music of Time – his brilliant 12-novel sequence, which chronicles the lives of over three hundred characters, is a unique evocation of life in twentieth-century England. The novels follow Nicholas Jenkins, Kenneth Widmerpool and others, as they negotiate the intellectual, cultural and social hurdles that stand between them and the “Acceptance World.”

30 review for Casanova's Chinese Restaurant

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kalliope

    5 -- CASANOVA'S CHINESE RESTAURANT This fifth period is a bit different. So far, all the volumes were consecutive in time, sometimes with a few years gap between one and the next. While at the beginning of Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant we jump back in time a few years and the Narrator introduces a different set of dancers. After the initial flashback however, the story continues and we find ourselves in the second half of 1936, when the Civil War in Spain has begun (and where I encounter the 5 -- CASANOVA'S CHINESE RESTAURANT This fifth period is a bit different. So far, all the volumes were consecutive in time, sometimes with a few years gap between one and the next. While at the beginning of Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant we jump back in time a few years and the Narrator introduces a different set of dancers. After the initial flashback however, the story continues and we find ourselves in the second half of 1936, when the Civil War in Spain has begun (and where I encounter the best sentence I have read so far on that war I think both sides are odious), and the time of the abdication of Edward VIII. The new group of dancers in the fifth volume are, appropriately, a coterie of musicians. If painters and painting make a striking visual presence in the Dance from the beginning, and writers have been running with the narrative all along--for the Narrator is after all a writer-- in this volume the society he observes is of the musicians: the most abstract of all artists. We are made to feel that musicians stand apart .. … thinking of the curious special humour of musicians, and also of the manner in which they write; ideas, words and phrases gushing out like water from a fountain, so unlike the stiff formality of painters’ prose. And the attraction of music is precisely its abstraction, the lack of identifiable narrative, which leads Powell’s dialoguing characters to criticise the new painting ('the literary content of some Picassos makes The Long Engagement or A Hopeless Dawn seem dry, pedantic studies in pure abstraction) and the new literature (You might as well argue that Ulysses has more ‘story’ than Uncle Tom's Cabin or The Rosary) when it claims, unsuccessfully, to shun narratives - precisely what music has always done. So, a whole symphony of composers is evoked, and one wants to put on the CDs as Liszt, Brahms, Shostakovich (with Communism as its accompaniment), Sibelius and Les Six, Debussy (offering the entry into the Spain of the war through his Iberia), resound through the novel. Another striking element is that for the first time the reader is made aware that the Narrator may be not entirely reliable. In one scene his wife corrects his account, when he says she was present at a particular dinner: ‘No, I wasn’t’. This particular dinner party had been treated in a previous volume and the wife is right. The reader can now doubt other accounts, and can also infer something about the personality or sentiments of this constantly elusive narrator. After all, he does sometimes take his wife for granted. The Dance is taking now a new ‘gravitas’ – not just because it contains a tragic element – but because of its soberer tone. Deaths have been encountered before but now the tragic is presented in the context of the complexities that humans have to face through our destinies. One of the effects of Time passing.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    The Spanish Civil War and the Abdication Crisis, music and fine arts, bohemians and socialites: all is interwoven into a complicated and admirable ornament. Casanova's Chinese Restaurant is as exotic and spicy as Chinese cuisine. In Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant Anthony Powell occupies himself by comparing the ways and styles of married life of the different personages. …in the end you discover that all this ill humour is nothing to do with yourself at all. In fact your wife is hardly aware that s The Spanish Civil War and the Abdication Crisis, music and fine arts, bohemians and socialites: all is interwoven into a complicated and admirable ornament. Casanova's Chinese Restaurant is as exotic and spicy as Chinese cuisine. In Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant Anthony Powell occupies himself by comparing the ways and styles of married life of the different personages. …in the end you discover that all this ill humour is nothing to do with yourself at all. In fact your wife is hardly aware that she is living in the same house with you. It was something that somebody said about her to someone who gossiped to somebody she knew when that somebody was having her hair done. Neither less nor more than that. All the same, it is you, her husband, who has to bear the brunt of those ill-chosen remarks by somebody about something. We literally pass through a gallery of odd human types and strange behavioural patterns. ‘Hullo, Little Bo-Peep,’ he said. ‘What have you done with your shepherdess’s crook? You will never find your sheep at this rate. Don’t look so cross and pout at me like that, or I shall ruffle up all those dainty little frills of yours – and then where will you be?’ A human being seems to be an eccentric creature when observed from afar… “They say the onlooker sees most of the game” though.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    Anthony Powell is not the first writer to compare marriage to a state of war. He is nevertheless in a class of his own as he goes about pleading his case. Book five of his Dance sequence is centered around the study of several couples in the years leading to the World War Two. As he did in the previous novels, Powell starts with a reminiscence, a memory trigger for Nick Jenkins to take a look back at the defining events of his younger, pre-war years. In the present case we have a double exposure Anthony Powell is not the first writer to compare marriage to a state of war. He is nevertheless in a class of his own as he goes about pleading his case. Book five of his Dance sequence is centered around the study of several couples in the years leading to the World War Two. As he did in the previous novels, Powell starts with a reminiscence, a memory trigger for Nick Jenkins to take a look back at the defining events of his younger, pre-war years. In the present case we have a double exposure : a place and a song. The place is the bombed out shell of a bar where he used to meet with his friend Moreland, a new character introduced now who is a composer and a conductor and who expands the artistic scope of the series from paintings and literature to music. The song is a haunting popular tune from the 1930's, called "Kashmiri Love Song", a reference that can only be appreciated at its true value in retrospect, looking back from the future at the desolate landscape left behind by the passing of Love: Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar, Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell? and, A direct hit had excised even the ground floor, so that the basement was revealed as a sunken garden, or site of arheological excavation long abandoned, where great sprays of willow herb and ragwort flowered through the 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 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 word 'Ladies' 'Cherchez la femme' should be the alternate title of the book. After such an ominous debut, I was not surprised that the whole fifth novel has a darker, bleaker tonality than the party atmosphere and the almost burlesque mishaps in courting described in the visits to Lady Molly's salon. Like its narrator Nick Jenkins, the Dance enters into a more mature, deliberate and pragmatical phase, discarding some of its youthfull enthusiasm for a gain in sobriety and depth. A minor disappointment for me is the step back taken by Nick Jenkins after what is probably the biggest decision so far in his life: getting married to Isobel Tolland. I notice now Nick is back to his old role of passive observer of the events going on around him, hardly even participating in the conversations with his friends. His eye has become keener, and his pen sharper, but his personality is turning in my opinion more and more introverted. Readers who had hopes of finding out more about his married life will also be disappointed, but maybe not surprised, by his coyness and reluctance to spill out the goods, even as he seems to be an avid consumer of other people's domestic tragi-comedies. Nick does make a good argument for his discretion, but I still feel the author could have been more open about his own marriage: A future marriage, or a past one, may be investigated and explained in terms of writing by one of its parties, but it is doubtful whether an existing marriage can ever be described directly in the first person and convey a sense of reality. Even those writers who suggest some of the substance of married life best, stylise heavily, losing the subtlety of the relationship at the price of a few accurately recorded, but isolated, aspects. To think at all objectively about one's own marriage is impossible, while a balanced view of other people's marriage is almost equally hard to achieve with so much information available, so little to be believed. Objectivity is not, of course, everything in writing; but even after one has cast objectivity aside, the difficulties of presenting marriage are inordinate. Its forms are at once so varied, yet so constant, providing a kaleidoscope, the colours of which are always changing, always the same. The moods of a love affair, the contradictions of friendship, the jealousy of business partners, the fellow feeling of opposed commanders in total war, these are all in their way to be charted. Marriage, partaking of such - and a thousand more - dual antagonisms and participations, finally defies definition. Keeping an open mind is for Nick, and by implication for Powell, the most important quality in a writer. Observe but don't judge, learn something new every day, but never believe you have found the ultimate answer to all Life's questions - especially where Women and emotions are involved. Do you remember that night at Casanova's Chinese Restaurant years ago? We talked about seducers and Don Juan and that sort of thing. The painter, Barnby, was there. I believe you were with us too, weren't you, Jenkins? (view spoiler)[ Do you remember when he talked of suicide in Casanova's? (hide spoiler)] The title of the present novel is relevant not in any interest for the Eastern schools of thought or for its exotic cuisine, but simply as an excuse to introduce the topic of Love among friends : Jenkins the writer, Barnby and Deacon the painters, Moreland the composer, Carolo the child prodigy soloist, Maclintick and Gossage the music critics. The meeting take place several years before the events from Lady Molly's, but the main timeline is soon recovered (not before another wild and unexpected return of Widmerpool to the limelight) as most of the participants in the conversation are now married. Of particular interest are the relationships of Moreland and Maclintick - two disfunctional couples whose tribulations form the backbone of the present novel. Maclintick caught her words. He swung round in such a rage that for a moment I thought he was going to strike her; just as I had thought she might stick a dinner knife into him when I had been to their house. There is drama here, and pain, and sometimes unexpected flashes of humour, plus the usual return of part-time characters seen in a new light ( You can't imagine what a pleasure it is to come unexpectedly upon an old friend one knew several million years ago. ). The Civil War in Spain, the turbulence brought by the rise of extremist parties in Europe, the famous abdication of the King to marry a divorcee, job insecurities and even poverty are all experienced at second hand as dinner conversations, gossip or speculations about friends caught in the conflict, like Lord Erridge who has gone to Barcelona in support of the left wing parties. The whole novel has a slight air of unreality, of living inside a bubble of social conventions and artistic detachement. At the same time, the sound of war drums and marching feet is getting harder and harder to ignore around a glass of champagne and a conversation about the latest symphony: The world was moving into a harassed era. [...] foreign news more and more often causing domestic events to be passed over almost unnoticed. The closing image of the novel is as powerful and disturbing as the ruins of a place of leisure presented in the introduction. Life moves in mysterious ways, but most of them are scary as a House of Terror ride, and the destination is something most of us refuse even to contemplate: Once, at least, we had been on a Ghost Railway together at some fun fair or on a seaside pier; slowly climbing sheer gradients, sweeping with frenzied speed into inky depths, turning blind corners from which black, gubbering bogeys leapt to attack, rushing headlong towards iron-studded doors, threatened by imminent collision, fingered by spectral hands, moving at last with dreadful, ever increasing momentum towards a shape that lay across the line. After giving five stars to the previous novel in the series, I feel disloyal to give any less to the present one, especially since my complaints are that it was more disturbing and more cynical about relationships and I'm the one who needs to grow up and accept that I am no longer young and irresponsible. The prose is just as good as I have come to expect from Powell, and the desire to continue with the Dance is just as strong. I expect the remaining episodes will achieve the same high literary standards.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    It is doubtful whether an existing marriage can ever be described in the first person and convey a sense of reality … To think at all objectively about one’s own marriage is impossible. Well. I read the trilogy Spring in 2012. Then I read the first book of Summer in February of 2015. Now, over a year later, I’ve read the fifth of Powell’s 12 novels. And I’m aiming to read the rest of them before the year is out. or, if you prefer, Takes place: first chapter, 1933 (reminiscences of 1928-9); rest It is doubtful whether an existing marriage can ever be described in the first person and convey a sense of reality … To think at all objectively about one’s own marriage is impossible. Well. I read the trilogy Spring in 2012. Then I read the first book of Summer in February of 2015. Now, over a year later, I’ve read the fifth of Powell’s 12 novels. And I’m aiming to read the rest of them before the year is out. or, if you prefer, Takes place: first chapter, 1933 (reminiscences of 1928-9); rest of book, during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-7. Jenkins is 30 years old in most of the book, and married to Isobel Tolland. Book published: 1960. Anthony Powell was in his mid-50s. Main characters (view spoiler)[bold appear in the very first novel (hide spoiler)] that visit the narrative: Ralph Barnby, St John Clarke, Edgar Deacon, Sir Magnus Donners, Viscount Erridge (now called Alfred at times by Jenkins, since they have become brothers-in-law), Amy Foxe (Stringham’s mother), Buster Foxe (third husband of Stringham’s mother), Uncle Giles (brief mentions), Mark Members, Hugh Moreland (new in this novel), Quiggin, Sillery, Charles Stringham, Jean Templer, Widmerpool. = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = In the fifth novel Powell’s narrative undergoes a change. To me, the first four books were alternately funny, erudite, somewhat light-hearted, and keenly observant of the human condition (at least as exemplified among his class of British characters). Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant, despite its rather amusing title, shows a cloud beginning to drift into the fair weather skies of these former books. Characters which would previously have been described in a way to bring at least vague smiles to the reader, here begin instead to evoke a furrowed brow, even a slight foreboding. The dialogues, the speculations on what the characters find relevant to their lives, become more serious. = = = = = = = The reasons for this not always apparent shift in the narrative are many. Partly just mention of the Spanish Civil War produces a feeling of unrest; as Naomi Mitchison wrote in one of her stories in The Fourth Pig, I can smell the wolf’s breath … I can hear the padding of the wolf’s feet a very long way off in the forest, coming nearer. And I know there is no way of stopping him. But apart from any hint at a darker view, the perception of a deeper, more intense aspect of the character’s lives is suggested, to me, by the increasing reference to the “lives of the artists”. As Jenkins and his school chums pass into their thirties, ambition and disappointment become more pronounced. And the introduction of Moreland, a composer, and Maclintick, a character in the musical script both furious and desperate, illustrates that many of the characters, certainly Jenkins, are perceiving a depth and subtlety to life (especially as illustrated by writers, painters, musical artists) which escapes those of younger age. But the most obvious reason for the shift is the recurring interest that Jenkins has in a more mature view of marriage. This harks back to the last scene of the previous volume, when Widmerpool (rather ridiculously) offers to pass on his observations about marriage to Jenkins. At this point it appeared (to me) as simply a parting humorous shot by Powell. But in CSR Powell shows us that though Widmerpool may perhaps not be an authority, he was spot-on in noting the importance of the topic. Examination of this theme in the novel would be a review in itself, which I would be ill-advised to pursue. Instead, let’s look at the final lines of the novel.’Did Chips mention when he and Priscilla are going to be married?’ asked Isobel. The question reminded me that Moreland, at least in a negative manner, had taken another decisive step. I thought of his recent remark about the Ghost Railway. He loved these almost as much as he loved mechanical pianos. Once, at least, we had been on a Ghost Railway together at some fun fair or other on a seaside pier; slowly climbing sheer gradients, sweeping with frenzied speed into inky depths, turning blind corners from which black, gibbering bogeys leapt to attack, rushing headlong towards iron-studded doors, threatened by imminent collision, fingered by spectral hands, moving at last with dreadful, ever increasing momentum towards a shape that lay across the line. The depth of the story has increased. As if the narrator, in prior volumes, was wading into the waters of time, but staying close to what was familiar, not too far from shore. Now he begins to venture further out, his toes perhaps no longer touching bottom, with both trepidation - am I being foolish? - but also with a certain excitement at this confrontation with aspects of life that assume a new meaning when visited from a more personal, and mature, perspective.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    Writer Nick Jenkins and his artist friend Barnby spend an evening at the Mortimer pub and Casanova's Chinese Restaurant. Nick is introduced to a group of musicians, and becomes close friends with composer Hugh Moreland (based on Powell's friend Constant Lambert). This book revolves around the musicians and their marriages. Nick also marries, but still plays the role of the observer and does not reveal details of his own marriage. His leftist brother-in-law goes to Spain during the Spanish Civil Writer Nick Jenkins and his artist friend Barnby spend an evening at the Mortimer pub and Casanova's Chinese Restaurant. Nick is introduced to a group of musicians, and becomes close friends with composer Hugh Moreland (based on Powell's friend Constant Lambert). This book revolves around the musicians and their marriages. Nick also marries, but still plays the role of the observer and does not reveal details of his own marriage. His leftist brother-in-law goes to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The Abdication Crisis also is in everyone's thoughts, and fits in with the book's emphasis on marriage. Set mostly in 1936, "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" is the fifth book in a twelve book series, and cannot be read as a stand alone novel. I enjoyed the social satire, the new characters, and getting reacquainted with some favorites that pop up in every book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    Marriage, fidelity, infidelity, relationships, friendships, death and all things having to do with life as our hero grows older and deals with new information and family ties. Part 5 is excellent, and whets my enthusiasm for the rest of the series.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    "Even the worst marriage is better than no marriage at all" I can only reiterate some of the praise I have previously lavished on this series - it's pure pleasure. The writing is some of the best I have ever read. In "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" (Vol 5) we've reached the mid-1930s, the backdrop includes the Abdication crisis and the Spanish Civil War. These seismic events, and the storm clouds gathering over Europe, are of only tangential concern to our narrator Nick Jenkins and his companion "Even the worst marriage is better than no marriage at all" I can only reiterate some of the praise I have previously lavished on this series - it's pure pleasure. The writing is some of the best I have ever read. In "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" (Vol 5) we've reached the mid-1930s, the backdrop includes the Abdication crisis and the Spanish Civil War. These seismic events, and the storm clouds gathering over Europe, are of only tangential concern to our narrator Nick Jenkins and his companions: marriage and relationships are at the heart of "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant". Before we get into the issue of marriage, Anthony Powell takes us back to the late 1920s from a vantage somewhere after World War 1. It's an unsettling introduction, but an important one, as the reader is introduced to a new group of Nick's friends and acquaintances, including composer Hugh Moreland who it transpires is probably his best friend. Widmerpool, sadly, makes only a cameo appearance and Templar doesn't appear at all, however Stringham makes a dramatic return at a party for Moreland given by Stringham's mother Mrs Foxe in the novel's most memorable scene. "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" abounds with adult themes - marriage, depression and alcoholism - and it all feels a far cry from the school days that started the A Dance To The Music of Time books. That said, there is still much subtle humour and some wonderful new plot twists. As I state at the outset, this series is a delight. I look forward to continuing the series with "The Kindly Ones" (Vol 6). 4/5

  8. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

    The detachment of the narrator really comes out in this volume of "A Dance to the Music of Time". Early on, in a reported conversation there is reference to Nick's wife being in a nursing home, and eventually it turns out she has had a miscarriage. For all the concern he has, you would think she had lost a pencil, or something equally unimportant. Another character and his wife have a child who lives for only a few hours. Again, it creates barely a ripple. It's brilliantly done but curiously bloo The detachment of the narrator really comes out in this volume of "A Dance to the Music of Time". Early on, in a reported conversation there is reference to Nick's wife being in a nursing home, and eventually it turns out she has had a miscarriage. For all the concern he has, you would think she had lost a pencil, or something equally unimportant. Another character and his wife have a child who lives for only a few hours. Again, it creates barely a ripple. It's brilliantly done but curiously bloodless. The British stiff upper lip at its best I suppose! And of course the period is the late 1930s, when it didn't do to get emotional about such things.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    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." ― Anthony Powell, Casanova's Chinese Restaurant Powell's fifth book opens with a flashback to the late 20s, and a discussion about love, marriage, and suicide. The book processes through the challenging marriages of Hugh Moreland (composer friend) and Maclintick (music critic friend) and their two difficult marriages. St John Clarke dies Erridg 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." ― Anthony Powell, Casanova's Chinese Restaurant Powell's fifth book opens with a flashback to the late 20s, and a discussion about love, marriage, and suicide. The book processes through the challenging marriages of Hugh Moreland (composer friend) and Maclintick (music critic friend) and their two difficult marriages. St John Clarke dies Erridge (see Orwell) is back from Spain. Af far as plots go, like most of Powell's books, there really isn't much happening. A couple dinner. A couple parties. Memories and flashes of insight into friends and their motives. Art, music, writing is discussed at length. People die. If I was pitching it as a movie, it would be a difficult pitch, but it is beautiful, thoughtful, and gentle. The entire novel reminds me of listening to the 3rd movement of Mahler's 5th symphony. Powell's prose just glides. As you are spinning though the chapters and scenes, Powell throws a couple prose flowers of truth at you, and you spin on. Faces are recognized, spin, and blur out. Themes emerge, crystalize, and disappear just as quick. Yet, at the very end, you also find a dark pull to the gravity of this novel. What you initially took for a carousel is actually a ghost railway, and all at once the reader is "slowly climbing sheer gradients, sweeping with frenzied speed into inky depths, turning blind corners from which black, gibbering bogeys leapt to attack, rushing headlong towards iron-studded doors, threatened by imminent collision, fingered by spectral hands, moving at last with dreadful, ever increasing momentum towards a shape that lay across the line."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paola

    Maturity starts setting in - and perhaps symbolically, historical events now come more forcefully to the fore - we are in the days of the Spanish Civil War, which however still manifests as almost academic discussions of a war between different ideologies which is actually being played out in what still feels like a distant land. And even when one of their own gets involved, it is still mostly an extravagance which after all is to be expected of such a character. Yes there is political debate, b Maturity starts setting in - and perhaps symbolically, historical events now come more forcefully to the fore - we are in the days of the Spanish Civil War, which however still manifests as almost academic discussions of a war between different ideologies which is actually being played out in what still feels like a distant land. And even when one of their own gets involved, it is still mostly an extravagance which after all is to be expected of such a character. Yes there is political debate, but it plays out in the drawing rooms of the good families, and life still goes on amid a whirlwind of social activities. As usual, Powell manages to intertwine many themes in a short book - so another big topic under scrutiny here is marriage: Powell puts forward various alternative versions of it, though there seems to be an underlying pessimism that marriage can ever work as an institution, no matter which particular shade it takes. As usual, Nick’s personal circumstances are only sketched in the background. The third main theme is friendship, and we see again so many alternatives ways for it to manifest: Powell is masterful at this, and in showing as completely believable and natural relationships that might at first sigh look improbable - not just that between Nick and Windmerpool, which seems more of a need that both have to probably feel better about themselves, but the one between Moreland and Maclintick, its strengths Failure is one more theme emerging through Stringham and Maclintick, both tragic figures in different ways, compared and contrasted in the cruel light of yet another fashionable party. Stunning.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This is the fifth book of the series "A Dance to the Music of Time and was originally published in 1960. Exploration of themes of time and memory are developed here. As with several of the earlier volumes, there is a substantial time-overlap with previous books, the first part returning to the period before the death of Mr. Deacon. However, Casanova's Chinese Restaurant concentrates on a new set of characters, principally the composer Hugh Moreland, (based on Powell's close friend Constant Lamber This is the fifth book of the series "A Dance to the Music of Time and was originally published in 1960. Exploration of themes of time and memory are developed here. As with several of the earlier volumes, there is a substantial time-overlap with previous books, the first part returning to the period before the death of Mr. Deacon. However, Casanova's Chinese Restaurant concentrates on a new set of characters, principally the composer Hugh Moreland, (based on Powell's close friend Constant Lambert), his fiancée Matilda, and the critic Maclintick and his wife, Audrey, whose unhappy marriage forms a key part of the narrative. 4* A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1) 4* A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2) 4* The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3) 4* At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4) CR Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time, #5) TR The Kindly Ones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #6) TR The Valley of Bones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #7) TR The Soldier's Art (A Dance to the Music of Time, #8) TR The Military Philosophers (A Dance to the Music of Time, #9) TR Books Do Furnish a Room (A Dance to the Music of Time, #10) TR Temporary Kings (A Dance to the Music of Time, #11) TR Hearing Secret Harmonies (A Dance to the Music of Time, #12)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Something tells me this isn't the last we'll hear of Audrey Maclintick. It was going to be 4 stars until something clicked on the last page, so I re-read some passages and yes, it is 5 stars. I've learnt not to read a number of other books while reading the Dance books. This book focuses on Moreland, the composer. There's a great discussion on marriage on pages 156-158. Widmerpool is a no-show in this outing. Some gems of lines throughout: 'professionally nauseous' 'carefully hedged praise' 'One alway Something tells me this isn't the last we'll hear of Audrey Maclintick. It was going to be 4 stars until something clicked on the last page, so I re-read some passages and yes, it is 5 stars. I've learnt not to read a number of other books while reading the Dance books. This book focuses on Moreland, the composer. There's a great discussion on marriage on pages 156-158. Widmerpool is a no-show in this outing. Some gems of lines throughout: 'professionally nauseous' 'carefully hedged praise' 'One always finds the answer to everything in one's own ego.' 'The ransoming of our curiosity was gratifying to her.' 'possessed those desiccated good looks which also suggest the theatre.'

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    More of the same ... but maybe a little bit more maudlin, ever-so-slightly sadder ... than its predecessors. The only important thing one needs to take away from this review is that it would be absurd to start the series here. If you plan to dip your toe into Powell's deep and highly nuanced waters, you'll need to read the books in order. The carousel of characters, the families, the players, the friends and lovers, professional colleagues, rivals, mentors, and antagonists, constantly rotate More of the same ... but maybe a little bit more maudlin, ever-so-slightly sadder ... than its predecessors. The only important thing one needs to take away from this review is that it would be absurd to start the series here. If you plan to dip your toe into Powell's deep and highly nuanced waters, you'll need to read the books in order. The carousel of characters, the families, the players, the friends and lovers, professional colleagues, rivals, mentors, and antagonists, constantly rotate around the narrator/protagonist ... and, frankly, that's all the story is really about. It's the march of time, evolution, growing up and maturing and growing older, experiencing and perceiving and learning, and ... growing steadily older and experiencing the world and the city (London) and family and friends in different ways. There's a reason so many consider Powell a giant in the literary field, and there's a similar reason that readers consider this such a remarkable period piece filled with snapshot or bite-sized insights into a certain slice of British high society (or at least monied and educated London-based social circles). Frankly, I don't love the books - rather, I find reading them, hmmm, I dunno, comfortable, ... but I can't imagine (at least at this point) not continuing through the series. Reader's nit: One of the many reasons that it doesn't work to analogize this series to the kind of parlor room observation that made Jane Austen great is that Nick, the narrator, is so disciplined in remaining largely invisible and irrelevant and unimportant while - at the same time - remaining central to the story line, the very axis around which the books' event revolve. In this book, the jarring jump (leap) over any courting or even marriage to his spouse - there is simply no bridging the gap whatsoever - is entirely true to character, but nonetheless disappointing.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    The fifth book in Powell’s epic sequence opens as several others have done, with some reminiscence. Presumably during the Second World War our narrator Nick Jenkins considers the bombed out remains of a pub he once frequented, with a group of friends. However Nick’s memories do not yet take us to the war years, as he so often does, Powell plays around a little with time here. Returning to the late 1920’s early 1930’s Jenkins remembers the time when he first knew some musician acquaintances who h The fifth book in Powell’s epic sequence opens as several others have done, with some reminiscence. Presumably during the Second World War our narrator Nick Jenkins considers the bombed out remains of a pub he once frequented, with a group of friends. However Nick’s memories do not yet take us to the war years, as he so often does, Powell plays around a little with time here. Returning to the late 1920’s early 1930’s Jenkins remembers the time when he first knew some musician acquaintances who he met in company with artists Barnby and Deacon who we first encountered in A Buyer’s Market. These remembered meetings of Jenkins, with Maclintick, Gossage, Carolo, Moreland and some others take place at this old pub; The Mortimer from where they once or twice decamped to the restaurant named in the title. The significance of these meetings is naturally returned to later in the novel, as one conversation in particular that took place at this time is destined to resonate strongly years later. This section of the novel brings us up to date in a sense, as Nick marries Isobel, an event that was imminent at the end of At Lady Molly’s. As the story moves through the latter part of the 1930’s – Moreland who I’m sure we haven’t met before (can we ever be certain of this?) turns out to be one of Jenkins’ really good friends. Jenkins doesn’t reveal too much about his marriage to Isobel yet I get the impression that it is a happy union, despite the fact that Isobel suffers a miscarriage early in the novel. Moreland’s wife Matilda becomes something of a friend of Isobel’s after herself losing a child soon after birth. In the company of Moreland, Jenkins endures the uncomfortable association of Maclintick one of those acquaintances from the days of The Mortimer, and his wife, with their lodger; fellow musician Carolo. The Maclintick’s are infamous for their unhappy marriage, and Nick and Moreland have to endure dinner with them sniping at each other while Carolo sits in the corner of the room working away on his sheets of music. The story of this instalment mainly concerns the marriages of the Morelands and the Maclintick’s – a subject no doubt dear to Jenkins’ own heart as he is fairly newly married himself. Although he never specifically tells us what he thinks about marriage as an institution himself, while some of his friends are becoming disenchanted with the realities of marriage, Jenkins holds his peace. Widmerpool makes a brief appearance – as he seems always destined to do, still a rather ridiculous figure, one can never quite shake off that image of him in his peculiar coat, as seen by Jenkins through the fog while still a schoolboy. “The meeting had, indeed taken place, Isobel had mentioned it. She had not cared for Widmerpool. That was one of the reasons why I had made no effort to keep in touch with him. In any case I should never have gone out of my way to seek him, knowing, as one does with certain people, that the rhythm of life would sooner or later be bound to bring us together again. However, I remembered that I owed him a meal. Guilt as to this unfulfilled obligation was strengthened by awareness that he was capable of complaining publicly that I never invited him in return.” Stringham also pops up unexpectedly, now rather bizarrely living with Molly and Ted Jeavons, he turns up drunk at a reception given for Moreland. As the novel ends, one marriage is ended and with it comes a tragic death, another death is announced – and Moreland is briefly infatuated with a woman not his wife. The brilliance of this sequence of novels lies in it being such a superb testament of the twentieth century. From the pathos of Nick’s Second World War reminiscence as the novel opens, to a London of the late 1930’s with occasional talk of war, while the Spanish Civil War tempts young idealists, like the utterly divine Erridge to join the fray. Anthony Powell’s writing is brilliant – the sense of time and place so absolutely spot on that the reader –(certainly this reader) feels a part of that world that Powell himself surely must have known. Everything seems to link together so beautifully, nothing is wasted; there is a point to everything, Powell of course and therefore we his readers understand just how everything is connected. I am really getting into my stride with this sequence now, I found Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant, to be an extremely readable novel, and has made me look forward more than ever to the next book The Kindly Ones in June.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Reading "Dance" is pure pleasure - this one is no exception. I don't want to finish the series in a hurry so I space them out, reading one every few other books. That way I have the next one to look forward to, as they are a wonderful antidote to some of the difficulties one may encounter in life! The writing is superlative too, so expect to find many other writers rather clunky, when you have just finished one of Powell's books.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brooklyn

    I loved this volume the 5th in the A Dance to the Music of Time, Complete Set: 1st Movement, 2nd Movement, 3rd Movement, 4th Movement series by Anthony Powell- my second go round and if possible loving it even more this time. Casanova's Chinese Restaurant starts a more somber note in the series taking place in the mid 1930s (with a notable flashback in the first chapter to the late 1920s). The news is all about the Abdication and the Spanish Civil War - but the news here is all about the continu I loved this volume the 5th in the A Dance to the Music of Time, Complete Set: 1st Movement, 2nd Movement, 3rd Movement, 4th Movement series by Anthony Powell- my second go round and if possible loving it even more this time. Casanova's Chinese Restaurant starts a more somber note in the series taking place in the mid 1930s (with a notable flashback in the first chapter to the late 1920s). The news is all about the Abdication and the Spanish Civil War - but the news here is all about the continuation of movement in the dance of time for our characters. A new series of characters focused on music (as art and literature had already been covered) focusing on Moreland (and also MacLintock and Carolo) with a bare cameo by Widmerpool. Stringham also makes an appearance in a one of the most memorably poignant moments in the series - his life reduced to alcoholism and Miss Weedon. Very sad. Also there are deaths and suicides. We are at the point in the dance when most of our characters are in their mid-30s and have experienced success.... and disappointment in their aspirations and careers. Like the figures in Poussin's Dance which inspires the series - characters disappear - and then reappear - while some leave forever - and some are introduced - and sudden vertiginous changes are always on the menu - and simple twists of fates that someone always seem deserved though not always expected. The set pieces at Mortimer's pub, the party at Mrs Foxe's and the dinner at the MacLinktocks are quite well written and orchestrated. I loved Widmerpool's iconic appearance (with boils) - and mysterious pronouncement of some possible royal connection for him? Powell does seem to take a light view of Isobel's and Matilda's miscarriage and baby death at birth - perhaps it was common at the time. I read one volume at a time - sometimes two - between new books. I find Powell works best for me a little at a time - to appreciate the writing and take in all the details. "’Did Chips mention when he and Priscilla are going to be married?’ asked Isobel. The question reminded me that Moreland, at least in a negative manner, had taken another decisive step. I thought of his recent remark about the Ghost Railway. He loved these almost as much as he loved mechanical pianos. Once, at least, we had been on a Ghost Railway together at some fun fair or other on a seaside pier; slowly climbing sheer gradients, sweeping with frenzied speed into inky depths, turning blind corners from which black, gibbering bogeys leapt to attack, rushing headlong towards iron-studded doors, threatened by imminent collision, fingered by spectral hands, moving at last with dreadful, ever increasing momentum towards a shape that lay across the line."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lars Guthrie

    Closing in on the halfway mark in the twelve volume 'Dance to the Music of Time' opus with number five. It is so entertaining reading this episodic work in order--just as much fun as a TV mini-series, or for that matter, 'The Sopranos.' This novel paricularly stood out because of its very clever and effective fast-forward-then-flashback opening used to introduce Moreland and other characters new to the reader but not to Nick Jenkins, the narrator. That fast forward opening lets you know that Wor Closing in on the halfway mark in the twelve volume 'Dance to the Music of Time' opus with number five. It is so entertaining reading this episodic work in order--just as much fun as a TV mini-series, or for that matter, 'The Sopranos.' This novel paricularly stood out because of its very clever and effective fast-forward-then-flashback opening used to introduce Moreland and other characters new to the reader but not to Nick Jenkins, the narrator. That fast forward opening lets you know that World War II is going to have a heavy impact on Powell's cast, and this novel brings in current events of the day--Edward's marriage and abdication, the Spanish civil war--to a greater degree than the first four novels. It also gives us a lengthier look at the once golden and now dissolute Stringham, bereaved of all his former promise, a bereavement only hinted at in the previous 'At Lady Molly's.' Working wih children, I'm ever concerned about how to move them toward more flexible and adaptable thinking, and I believe this is Stringham's stumbling block, and a central motif of Powell's. Here's a bit gleaned from a conversation between two characters in 'Casanova's Chinese Restaurant' (that name itself is a melange of odds and ends): 'Every Tom, Dick, and Harry thinks he knows what is probable. The fact is most people have not the slightest idea what is going on around them. Their conclusions about life are based on entirely irrelevant—and utterly inaccurate—premises….it takes a bit of time to realise that all the odds and ends milling round one are the process of living.'

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Simply amazing. At once profound, yet gossipy and laugh out loud funny. the characters are so richly drawn, I have recognized them by the description of the gait of the character before the name was mentioned.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Catullus2

    Touches on the Spanish Civil War, marriage, alcoholism, and despair.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    I love this series - so moving, so engaging, so brilliant.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Simon Mcleish

    Originally published on my blog here in August 1999. With the fifth volume of Dance to the Music of Time, Powell reaches the mid-thirties, when conversation in England was dominated by the abdication crisis and the Spanish Civil War. These events form the background to the novel, and yet these hardly concern the narrator Nick Jenkins. Casanova's Chinese Restaurant is about marriage. Powell makes a change to the way that his characters interact for this novel. In the earlier volumes in the series, Originally published on my blog here in August 1999. With the fifth volume of Dance to the Music of Time, Powell reaches the mid-thirties, when conversation in England was dominated by the abdication crisis and the Spanish Civil War. These events form the background to the novel, and yet these hardly concern the narrator Nick Jenkins. Casanova's Chinese Restaurant is about marriage. Powell makes a change to the way that his characters interact for this novel. In the earlier volumes in the series, the reader's attention is focused on Nick's continuing relationship with his schoolfriends, and their periodic encounters in London society form the basis for the books' plots. Here, though, Templer does not appear at all, and Stringham and Widmerpool only have cameo roles. Instead, two completely new characters are introduced, the composer Moreland and the music critic Maclintock. It is their marriages, as well as Nick's own, that Powell uses to illustrate some of the ways in which this institution can develop. Each relationship is seen mainly from the masculine point of view; after all, the narrator is a man and, in London society in the thirties, more likely to have close relationships with other men rather than their wives. Nick himself says little about his own marriage, Isobel being a fairly minor character, but from what we see it seems placidly happy in a low key kind of way, despite Isobel's miscarriage near the beginning of the novel. The Morelands have a more complex relationship, in which they remain together even though he ends up committing adultery. The Maclintock's marriage has almost completely broken down before Nick becomes acquainted with them. They live in a state of perpetual warfare which is unpleasant for everyone, themselves and their friends. The main difference between Dance to the Music of Time and Remembrance of Things Past, to which it has often been compared, is that Powell's aims seem to be much simpler than Marcel Proust's. (The comparison is often made, I suspect, by English-speaking critics who feel that Remembrance of Things Past should have an English equivalent.) Proust's work has a philosophical side; he is trying to give the reader an insight into the true underlying nature of his themes, particularly the main one of memory. Powell, on the other hand, is more concerned to paint an effective picture of life in English society in the twenties, thirties and forties. The name of the novel comes from the bizarre (fictional) restaurant in Soho in which Nick first met Maclintock. Originally an Italian restaurant decorated with pictures commemorating the famous lover, it was taken over by a Chinese restaurant further up the street, and the name and décor retained. Powell introduces a rare note of foreboding into the novel at its beginning, where Nick revisits Soho after the restaurant has been destroyed by wartime bombing, which causes him to remember the events of this time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Illiterate

    Now we are married, and it isn't pretty.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stenwjohnson

    Is Anthony Powell really the “English Proust"? Reading "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" (1960), the fourth installment of his 12-part epic "Dance to the Music of Time" (1951-75), it's clear that this extended "novel" is more a series of individual sprints that an unbroken marathon. Characters reappear and time moves forward at a deliberate pace, but Powell tends to repeat his approach volume-by-volume: A virtuoso overture sets a melancholy scene, followed by roughly four dialogue-driven social se Is Anthony Powell really the “English Proust"? Reading "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" (1960), the fourth installment of his 12-part epic "Dance to the Music of Time" (1951-75), it's clear that this extended "novel" is more a series of individual sprints that an unbroken marathon. Characters reappear and time moves forward at a deliberate pace, but Powell tends to repeat his approach volume-by-volume: A virtuoso overture sets a melancholy scene, followed by roughly four dialogue-driven social set-pieces that invert the Proustian model. In “Remembrance of Things Past,” the life of the mind floats above earthly realities; a redolent subjectivity dominates, attuned to social worlds but relentlessly ideating in its own orbit. In Powell, society takes the lead, with the deepest introspection emerging only periodically. In the end, an English Proust may not be appropriate to Powell’s rigid, insular upper- and upper-middle class world. "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant” is a more effective standalone work than the first four volumes. A more disciplined narrative structure works to the reader’s benefit, offering more background and exposition, which is welcome in a series top-heavy with dialogue. Its core action takes place in 1936, but narrator Nick Jenkins fleshes out the histories of his relationships with earlier (and some now-deceased) characters such as Deacon, Maclintick, Gossage, Carolo, and the composer Moreland, whose presence dominates the present-time plot. Nick’s own marriage to Isobel Tolland is barely mentioned in a novel focused on the theme of marital disappointment. In the course of the novel, Moreland meets, nearly abandons and finally achieves détente with his actress wife Matilda, and Moreland and Nick observes the disastrous marriage of music critic Maclintick. Old schoolmate Charles Stringham even reemerges as a distruptively rakish, alcoholic wedge between Maclintick and his wife during a surreal party held for Moreland after his symphony debuts. Priscilla Tolland, obliquely linked to Moreland, finally announces her engagement to Chips Lovell as Nick reflects bleakly on the future in a final virtuoso paragraph. Like the other installments of "Dance to the Music of Time," "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant” is mainly a vehicle for Powell’s brilliant prose and observations, through which he tells the story of a world that socializes endlessly, but lacks even the shallowest intimacy. Ideas are often expressed as remembered bon mots, as if thoughts barely exist outside of the clever opinions of a small coterie. It’s a stark vision, expressed with dark humor and charged with virtuoso language. Powell is a matter of taste, but those with a taste for dense, sparkling between-the-wars British tales will find him a master of the genre. You know who you are.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David Mcangus

    Casanova's Chinese Restaurant begins in a slow and disorientating manner. It jumps between past present while introducing new characters and refuses (like the other novels) to ease the reader into the narrative in a conventional manner. Years have passed, and while plot threads from At Lady Molly's remain. Jenkins's life has changed once again and taken a turn towards the bohemian. In the previous entry I noticed my enjoyment of each novel was largely decided by the company that Jenkins keeps. Th Casanova's Chinese Restaurant begins in a slow and disorientating manner. It jumps between past present while introducing new characters and refuses (like the other novels) to ease the reader into the narrative in a conventional manner. Years have passed, and while plot threads from At Lady Molly's remain. Jenkins's life has changed once again and taken a turn towards the bohemian. In the previous entry I noticed my enjoyment of each novel was largely decided by the company that Jenkins keeps. This is decidedly true in the case of this entry as well, but the full mastery of how Powell handles his characters' development allowed me to understand that I was reading human beings, not simply characters on a page. I've read effective characterisation before, in multiple genres, but what's unique about this story is that with each instalment the characters develop in minimal increments. Therefore, the change in personality isn't plain from novel to novel. It's subtle, purposeful and maintained with the measure and discipline that can be deceptively simple. This sentiment is none truer than in the case of Powell's narrator. I had a bit of a falling out with Jenkins in At Lady Molly's, as I was getting rather tired of his commitment to gossip and judgement, without showing an iota of introversion or self realisation. On further reading and reflection, it's apparent to me that this actually highly intelligent and genuine use of first person narration. It seems Jenkins comes from the school of life philosophy that believes: If the world is already enthusiastic to point out one's failings, why encourage it in the effort? This therefore boils down to a question of the reliability of our narrator, and if this is what Powell's doing and not me reading fiction within fiction, it's very well implemented. Beyond all this I also found the plot in Casanova's Chinese Restaurant more interesting that some of the previous novels. For perhaps the first time, dark topics are dealt with head on and characters are more likely to reveal the cracks in their public persona. All of which increases my interest in how they might develop when confronted with Europe's downward spiral in the coming years, and how my relationship will in turn develop with them.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Realini

    Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant by Anthony Powell This is the fifth volume of A Dance to the Music of Time. There is a perceptible change of tune. First of all we have musicians in the center of the stage, the tone is different, and the atmosphere is heavier, darker. The mood is rather gloomy at times; we have dramas unfolding and less humor. The name comes from a restaurant were protagonists talk about…Casanova, Don Juan and seduction: “seduction is to do and say the banal thing in the banal way…” T Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant by Anthony Powell This is the fifth volume of A Dance to the Music of Time. There is a perceptible change of tune. First of all we have musicians in the center of the stage, the tone is different, and the atmosphere is heavier, darker. The mood is rather gloomy at times; we have dramas unfolding and less humor. The name comes from a restaurant were protagonists talk about…Casanova, Don Juan and seduction: “seduction is to do and say the banal thing in the banal way…” The Chinese restaurant “linked the East with the West, present with the past” “people talk about affairs of love as if you spent your whole time in bed. I find most of my emotional – not to say physical energy- is exhausted in making efforts to get there” The discussions are very interesting , touching the subjects of Time and Space, a “fashionable „item of conversation…” “the two are identical” “One might be true to a woman in Time and unfaithful to her in Space” I guess this is one characteristic of A Dance to the Music of time- we travel between esoteric, serious, metaphysical, philosophical, even supernatural subjects and funny, mundane stories: Powell finds humor in tragedy and drama - take for instance the ordeal of Stringham, coming drunk to his mother’s party, depicted in this volume. I learned that both Don Juan and Casanova liked power, the latter becoming a complete Narcissus. Politics is a topic which covers an extended “Space and Time „in this volume: Erridge is going to (and coming from) the civil war in Spain. Quite a few of the characters have leftish, communist tendencies even if the voice of reason can be heard: “Shostakovich, was not allowed to have his opera performed because the dictatorship of the proletariat finds that work decadent, bourgeois, formalist” I continue to enjoy greatly this wonderful masterpiece, moving to The Kindly Ones, where it is already exciting to find that the name takes us to Ancient Greece, where our ancestors spoke of the Furies as The Kindly Ones, in order to appease them…

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mario Hinksman

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The fifth of the twelve books that make up Anthony Powell's 'A Dance to the Music of Time'. For the first time there is a flashback to introduce more characters, mainly from the arts. A comically unhappy couple are introduced but the end of the book still produces a shock. For the first time Widmerpool barely makes an appearance. There is a growing sense of a gathering storm with one character making a half-hearted contribution to the Spanish Civil War and a range of views being expressed on the The fifth of the twelve books that make up Anthony Powell's 'A Dance to the Music of Time'. For the first time there is a flashback to introduce more characters, mainly from the arts. A comically unhappy couple are introduced but the end of the book still produces a shock. For the first time Widmerpool barely makes an appearance. There is a growing sense of a gathering storm with one character making a half-hearted contribution to the Spanish Civil War and a range of views being expressed on the abdication crisis. There are deaths among some of those in the 'Dance' but there is a sense that these are also starting to accelerate. Jenkins' school contemporary Stringham, once a man about town, has retreated to become a rather tragic figure. Jenkins as narrator continues his detached observation although a few details of his own life, including the 'minor' and hardly mentioned fact of his marriage to Isobel Tolland. The book has little obvious plot, focusing rather on the development of and interaction between the characters in various dinners, parties or concerts. The depth of the characters and there interactions is impressive, in line with the earlier books in the series. The relevance of the times they are living in becomes more pronounced.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karyn

    This is a book reflecting on relationships between men and women, focusing primarily on marriage, and it adopts a realistic, if slightly pessimistic, viewpoint. The restaurant itself, with its imperfect blending of disparate elements, may reflect something of how marriage is viewed, and the question is raised early in the book of whether the worst of marriages is better than none at all. The narrator is Nicholas Jenkins, remembering the past, and taking on the role of observer: it is not his own This is a book reflecting on relationships between men and women, focusing primarily on marriage, and it adopts a realistic, if slightly pessimistic, viewpoint. The restaurant itself, with its imperfect blending of disparate elements, may reflect something of how marriage is viewed, and the question is raised early in the book of whether the worst of marriages is better than none at all. The narrator is Nicholas Jenkins, remembering the past, and taking on the role of observer: it is not his own marriage he reflects on but those of his friend Moreland, and his acquaintance Maclintick. Read more

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sammy

    Set amidst the heady 1930s of the abdication of Edward VIII, the Spanish Civil War, and the unsettling feeling of a war brewing across Europe, the fifth volume in Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time shifts away from the old in favour of the new. Jean and Peter are nowhere to be seen; Widmerpool makes but a cameo; Stringham has a single memorable appearance as his life continues its downward spiral. Instead, the recently-married Nick (he and his wife remaining ciphers, as is Powell's wont) is t Set amidst the heady 1930s of the abdication of Edward VIII, the Spanish Civil War, and the unsettling feeling of a war brewing across Europe, the fifth volume in Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time shifts away from the old in favour of the new. Jean and Peter are nowhere to be seen; Widmerpool makes but a cameo; Stringham has a single memorable appearance as his life continues its downward spiral. Instead, the recently-married Nick (he and his wife remaining ciphers, as is Powell's wont) is thrust into the world of musicians and artists, and of his wife's aristocratic family, for another series of social engagements, dinners, parties, and reflections on marriage and relationships in general. Powell has by now settled into an easy rhythm with these novels. Whether it is his skills maturing with age or simply his connection to the characters becoming more natural as he moves from youth to adulthood, the author here captures an easy, convivial, ever-shifting world. Having both read the book and listened to an audiobook version, I perhaps recommend the latter, since it allows 21st century people into the speech patterns and hidden meanings of a generation of people now lost to us. The cultural shifts make some of the dialogue read quite plainly on the page, where it would have had layers of intent and inflection for people reading at the time. The novel feels somewhat softer than the previous volumes, lighter, despite that shadow of war creeping ever so slowly along the horizon. What lies ahead remains unknown, but the old generation is dying out - literally, in this volume - and Nick's peers are coming to the fore. Truth Unveiled by Time is the name of a piece of art recurrent throughout the book. Is there a more apt allegory?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    I liked this one! There was a very distinct tone running throughout: a kind of stiff melancholy (emotionally traumatic events are brushed off as nothing) mixed with British awkwardness (as in the moment where Nick talks to Matilda and she's skirting around the Moreland/Priscilla thing). I should point out that there's an instance where Nick gets something wrong: I think up until now, he's been seen as omniscient. But now that he's got a wife (whom we barely see any of, by the way, and that's a c I liked this one! There was a very distinct tone running throughout: a kind of stiff melancholy (emotionally traumatic events are brushed off as nothing) mixed with British awkwardness (as in the moment where Nick talks to Matilda and she's skirting around the Moreland/Priscilla thing). I should point out that there's an instance where Nick gets something wrong: I think up until now, he's been seen as omniscient. But now that he's got a wife (whom we barely see any of, by the way, and that's a calamity) she's close enough to him to twig out his errors, and there's an instance where Nick says "we were there" meaning he and Isobel, and Isobel goes "nope actually I was being ill somewhere else". It aggravates me that Isobel's so close to Nick that she's been sucked into his un-self-interested void too. The few things she says are witty and entertaining, and it's a goddamn loss that we don't hear more from her, though Powell is obviously aware of this complaint and justifies it by saying something philosophical about marriage and one's own. But still, this book is on a whole other level of omitting things from Nick's own life. Probably this is some theory that a narrator cannot be self-involved; that in getting to the truth you need to turn the mirror outwards. You cannot observe yourself to any degree of objectivity. I wrote out quotes I liked in shorthand because I'm trying to learn it, but my level is currently less than a beginner and I can only decipher one. This one: I can never see the objection to being a snob. It seems far the most sensible thing to be.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

    I remember in my early teens being intrigued by the title of this book on my mother's shelves and trying to read it. What a disappointment - I thought it was going to be funny, and it was just a lot of very long dinner party conversations. I didn't get very far. This is book five in the series. It's 1936 (except for a brief prologue set some years earlier, introducing the eponymous restaurant and the new characters for this book), Nick has been married for a year or two, and this book looks at ma I remember in my early teens being intrigued by the title of this book on my mother's shelves and trying to read it. What a disappointment - I thought it was going to be funny, and it was just a lot of very long dinner party conversations. I didn't get very far. This is book five in the series. It's 1936 (except for a brief prologue set some years earlier, introducing the eponymous restaurant and the new characters for this book), Nick has been married for a year or two, and this book looks at marriage - but not Nick's. We see couples at second hand. In the background is the abdication of Edward VIII and the Spanish civil war. Anyone who has got this far in the series should definitely read this one. I thought it was one of the best. But don't start here - I'd recommend reading them in order, so the style can grow on you.

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