web site hit counter The Valley of Bones - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Valley of Bones

Availability: Ready to download

With their lives drastically remodeled by World War II, the characters of The Dance to the Music of Time series continue their colorful exploits. Nicholas Jenkins, the narrarator, now in his thirties, is second-lieutenant in an infrantry regiment and life in the army is examined at startingly close range. Like its predecessors, this volume in the series is witty, sparkling With their lives drastically remodeled by World War II, the characters of The Dance to the Music of Time series continue their colorful exploits. Nicholas Jenkins, the narrarator, now in his thirties, is second-lieutenant in an infrantry regiment and life in the army is examined at startingly close range. Like its predecessors, this volume in the series is witty, sparkling, entertaining, but adds a new twist as a whole new world of wartime people and circumstances are investigated.


Compare

With their lives drastically remodeled by World War II, the characters of The Dance to the Music of Time series continue their colorful exploits. Nicholas Jenkins, the narrarator, now in his thirties, is second-lieutenant in an infrantry regiment and life in the army is examined at startingly close range. Like its predecessors, this volume in the series is witty, sparkling With their lives drastically remodeled by World War II, the characters of The Dance to the Music of Time series continue their colorful exploits. Nicholas Jenkins, the narrarator, now in his thirties, is second-lieutenant in an infrantry regiment and life in the army is examined at startingly close range. Like its predecessors, this volume in the series is witty, sparkling, entertaining, but adds a new twist as a whole new world of wartime people and circumstances are investigated.

30 review for The Valley of Bones

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kalliope

    7.-- THE VALLEY OF BONES Not Dry. What I mean is that the title of the Seventh period of The Dance seems to be based on a passage by Ezequiel, but the epithet Dry has not been selected out of the original text. The Valley of Dry Bones The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  H 7.-- THE VALLEY OF BONES Not Dry. What I mean is that the title of the Seventh period of The Dance seems to be based on a passage by Ezequiel, but the epithet Dry has not been selected out of the original text. The Valley of Dry Bones The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezequiel 37: 1-4. We are then at the beginning of the war, the “comparatively halcyon days” of the bloody war, and the protagonist, Jenkins, has joined the barracks. All the military jargon, the acronyms, the structure, the hierarchy of different ranks etc., was, however, somewhat lost on me. What was less lost on me was the humour. Against a backdrop of dooming and increasingly terrifying military events, the Dance of a few individuals continues. Germany invades the Netherlands, Churchill becomes Prime Minister in extremis, Belgian Government surrenders, Italy joins the war, and the Germans are in the outskirts of Paris. But all of these are just mentioned--in passing. The focus is in front of the stage, not in the military front. At least for now. And in spite of the mise en scène, this has been one of the funniest volumes so far. The mix of Arthurian elements; the evocations of Tweedledum and Tweedledee; the farce with top ranks obsessively concerned with porridge; the champagne-like quality of a nice cuppa tea; the ridiculous dialogue out of code words, kept me hooked to the book. But not all was laughter. For this continues to be a meditation about people. Jenkins is the extraordinary observer of others. His own intimate thoughts and feelings remain veiled for the reader. But then we should not be surprised, because one of the traits he sharply always detects is egotism. It baffles him. Before this volume we have already seen him meditating on the immutable characteristics of self-absorption, but he returns to it in the Valley of Bones. On the more serious tone Powell’s rich references to art (with Viennese Kunsthistorisches with their extraordinary collection of Bruegels), and to literature and philosophy continue. Descartes, Vigny, Byron, Nietzsche have also been given a seat to the Dance.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    Well, Nick Jenkins, you're in the army now! and a change of tune is in order for the seventh installment of the Dance. The almost carnival atmosphere of high society saloon intrigues and romantic entaglements is replaced by a darker, bleaker, all-male world guided by endless regulations and tedious routines. Powell, through the eyes of his perennial narrator Nick, is still able to find humour in his surroundings and in his fellow officers, but the laughs sound hollow when the outcome is more tha Well, Nick Jenkins, you're in the army now! and a change of tune is in order for the seventh installment of the Dance. The almost carnival atmosphere of high society saloon intrigues and romantic entaglements is replaced by a darker, bleaker, all-male world guided by endless regulations and tedious routines. Powell, through the eyes of his perennial narrator Nick, is still able to find humour in his surroundings and in his fellow officers, but the laughs sound hollow when the outcome is more than once a life cut short in its prime. The opening scene of the present episode reminds me of the black & white, stark style of early German Impressionist movies. The author describes it in terms of the paintings of a French satirist: A Daumier world of threatening, fiercely slanted shadows, in the midst of which two feeble jets of bluish gas, from which the pungent smell came, gave irregular, ever-changing contours to an amorphous mass of foggy cubes and pyramids. The new characters introduced now reinforce the impression of tragic farce, of dancing under the gallows pole. An early reference to the Bible serves to explain both the title of the novel and the probable fate of most of the players, here engaged in the still peaceful activities or organizing and training an infantry batallion in the early days of 1940, as the Germans face the Anglo-French forces across the Maginot Line. The novel will deal thus not in dramatic action scenes but in character studies that will define the new society Nick Jenkins has volunteered to join. The army is at once the worst place for egoists, and the best. Thus it was in many ways the worst for Bithel, always being ordered about and reprimanded, the best for Gwatkin, granted - anyway up to a point - the power and rank he desired. Nick Jenkins remains true to his own nature : a keen observer and chronicler of his times more than an action figure. He lets the other officers take center stage and define the parameters of the army culture. Captain Gwatkin is a former banker who holds romantic notions of heroism and duty. Second Lieutenant Bithel is an opportunist and a libertine out to make the best of a bad situation. Petty officers and soldiers dance in and out of focus to shine a new light on the old Dance conflict between will and dream. But for now, it is the will that holds the upper hand, and old acquaintances like Widmerpool and Sir Magnus Donners that will rise to the top of the new social structures. ... the army is a world of the will, accordingly, if the will is weak, the army is weak. Such weaknesses are not immediately apparent as we first meet Gwatkin or Bithel, but the point will be reinforced by the end of the novel. (view spoiler)[ as once again Widmerpool makes a spectacular entrance, Gwatkin pays the price of his self-dellusions of grandeur, and Bithel is sent to a sinecure post where he can do minimal damage (hide spoiler)] The tone of the novel swings from the absurdly humorous ( "Do you like porridge?" he almost shouted. ) to the bone weary routine of daily trudge, with brief episodes of philosophical musings and an even briefer return to the high society dance of who is sleeping with whom during a weekend leave at a country manor. Here are a few quotes to illustrate the points: - on the theme of soldierly aptitude: Vigny says a soldier's crown is a crown of thorns, amongst its spikes none more painful than passive obedience. [...] He sees the role of authority as essentially artificial, the army a way of life in which there is as little room for uncontrolled fervour as for sullen indifference. The impetuous volunteer has as much to learn as the unwilling conscript. - on the theme of boredom and stress, something I remember most vividly from my own brief stint in the armed forces, almost three decades ago : At Castlemallock I knew despair. The proliferating responsibilities of an infantry officer, simple in themselves, yet, if properly carried out, formidable in their minutiae, impose a strain in wartime even on those to whom they are a lifelong professional habit; the excruciating boredom of exclusively male society is particularly irksome in areas at once remote from war, yet opressed by war conditions. - on the incompatibility between the world of will and the world of romance: All love affairs are differet cases, yet, at the same time, each is the same case. Moreland used to say love was like sea-sickness. For a time everything round you heaved about and you felt you were going to die - then you staggered down the gangway to dry land, and a minute or two later could hardly remember what you suffered, why you had been feeling so ghastly. Gwatkin was at the earlier stage. The novel ends with the news of the German breakthrough in Belgium and with the first deaths among the family members and officers met in training. This early phase of almost peaceful and comical preparation for slaughter is replaced by the real thing, as from one day to the next arrangements for a marriage lead to an unmarked grave in a foreign country (view spoiler)[ the secretive Robert Tolland and his surprise affair with Flavia Wisebite (hide spoiler)] : As in musical chairs, the piano stops suddenly, someone is left without a seat, petrified for all time in their atitude of that particular moment. Nick's own path is heading into unknown territory, the only certainty being the need to adapt to a world ruled by will (view spoiler)[ with Widmerpool as his immediate superior (hide spoiler)] : Castlemallock was to be left behind. I heard the news without regret; although in the army - as in love - anxiety is an ever-present factor where change is concerned. As for Gwatkin and Bithel, the two opposite incarnations of the amateur officer, I am sure we will come across them again in a future episode of the Dance, as we did with almost every one of the characters in the series up to now. None of them is wasted or gratuitous in the big picture that Anthony Powell draws for us with such consummate skill and wit: ... it was no good battling against Fate, which, seen in right perspective, almost always provides a certain beauty of design, sometimes even an occasional good laugh. What is not guaranteed is that these dancers will grow wise from their experiences. Art can provide answers to the big questions of Life and Fate, but only to those willing to listen: I was impressed for the ten thousandth time by the fact that literature illuminates life only for those to whom books are a necessity. Books are unconvertible assets, to be passed on only to those who possess them already. This last quote serves as a great companion to the whole Dance sequence, an experience that I have come to cherish and wait with impatience for each monthly installment in our 2016 group read project, an illumination of a momentous part of the twentieth century that teaches a lot of useful lessons to our present generation.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones… Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord…” Ezekiel 37. Anthony Powell portrays the army as a legion of resurrected dry bones serving to the god unknown and s “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones… Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord…” Ezekiel 37. Anthony Powell portrays the army as a legion of resurrected dry bones serving to the god unknown and silently obeying all the commands coming from beyond the clouds… But those revived warriors don’t forget to have their own intrigues, pursuit their own ambitions, design their various schemes and even contrive love affairs… “…the heroes of yesterday are the maquereaux of tomorrow.” The Valley of Bones is laden with effervescent sarcasm that at times viciously turns cynical.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    The General carried a long stick, like the wand of a verger in a cathedral, and wore a black and brown checked scarf thrown carelessly about his neck. A hunting horn was thrust between the buttons of his battle-dress blouse. or, if you prefer, Takes place: First half of 1940. Jenkins in his early 30s. Book published: 1964. Anthony Powell was in his late 50s. Significant characters (view spoiler)[bold that appear in the very first novel (hide spoiler)] that visit the narrative: Ralph Barnby, Ge The General carried a long stick, like the wand of a verger in a cathedral, and wore a black and brown checked scarf thrown carelessly about his neck. A hunting horn was thrust between the buttons of his battle-dress blouse. or, if you prefer, Takes place: First half of 1940. Jenkins in his early 30s. Book published: 1964. Anthony Powell was in his late 50s. Significant characters (view spoiler)[bold that appear in the very first novel (hide spoiler)] that visit the narrative: Ralph Barnby, General Conyers, Edgar Deacon, Sir Magnus Donners, Bob Duport, Viscount Erridge (usually called Alfred by Jenkins), Pamela Flitton, Amy Foxe (Stringham’s mother), Buster Foxe (third husband of Stringham’s mother), Lady Molly & Ted Jeavons, Uncle Giles, Chips Lovell, Hugh Moreland, Charles Stringham, Jean Templer, Peter Templer, Widmerpool. Besides these, all nine of Jenkins’ siblings-in-law – the Tolland flock - find places in the narrative, though some only by very brief mention. (view spoiler)[[in birth order, Viscount Erridge (Alfred), Frederica (Budd), Norah, George, Susan, Blanche, Robert, Isobel (his wife), Hugo and Priscilla. (hide spoiler)] These brief mentions, for example a memory of something once said by a character, must satisfy many of the continuing characters. With very few exceptions, we have entered an entirely new movement of The Dance, introduced in this book with Jenkin’s first six months in the Army. Britain had declared war on Germany in September 1939, as obliged by terms of the Anglo-Polish military alliance; and British units of the regular Army had soon begun filtering into France. The narrative here relates Jerkins’ experiences at various locations in England and Northern Ireland as he undergoes training. As could be expected, there are a great number of new characters introduced in the book, some of them with Army sobriquets such as “Jones, D.” and “Williams, T.”; but more important characters are named otherwise, and some of these, besides having roles both minor and major in this book, will find mention, or even parts to play, in the final five volumes.Most particularly, keep in mind Rowland Gwatkin, David Penistone (view spoiler)[who turns out to be an unnamed young man Jenkins met “a thousand years ago”, in A Buyer’s Market (hide spoiler)] , Lieutenant Bithel and Odo Stevens. In my review of The Kindly Ones, I suggested that the ending of that book suggested that, “Now real life, the life of the man of action, a life to live intensely, seems about to begin for Jenkins and others of his generation – those who missed the first war, who dodged that assault of the Kindly Ones, must now prepare themselves to experience their fury.” This view may ultimately prove to have a modicum of validity; yet in the present volume it is definitely not borne out. The Valley of Bones, taking place entirely in the home islands, is concerned with Jenkins interacting with classes and types of men not previously mentioned, as well, of course, as his submersion into the society of warriors. In this society he finds unexpected friendships, as well as anticipated types which both bemuse him and amuse the reader. but … the book’s title? The brief description above, and the admission that the fury of the Kindly Ones is not yet unleashed in this volume, does not mean that the ominous title is misleading. It is, rather, a more nuanced reference, not so much to a valley, as to what rises out of a valley. At the end of the first chapter, Jenkins and other officers attend a service in a local parish church. There, the Church of England padre attached to Jenkins’ battalion, the Rev. Iltyd Popkiss, delivers a sermon - reading directly and at length from Ezekiel: “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the valley which was full of bones … and the breath came unto them and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army …” Popkiss concludes his sermon to his listeners, "very quiet in the pitch-pine pews."Journey with me, my brethren, into that open valley ... Know you not those same dry bones? ... They are our bones, my brethren, the bones of you and me,bones that await the noise and the mighty shaking, the gift of the four winds of which the prophet of old did tell ... Must we not come together, my brethren, everyone of us, as did the bones of that ancient valley, quickened with breath, bone to bone, sinew to sinew, skin to skin … Unless I speak falsely, an exceeding great army …

  5. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “War is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” -- old combat adage Powell's 'The Valley of Bones' is a war novel that has nothing to do with war. Well, that is not right, there are signals that the war is beginning and the Nazis are invading countries in Europe. Nick Jenkins finds himself in command of a platoon training for war with the Germans. His company is a company whose officers are all primarily bankers and whose enlisted ranks seem filled with miners. Instead of “War is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” -- old combat adage Powell's 'The Valley of Bones' is a war novel that has nothing to do with war. Well, that is not right, there are signals that the war is beginning and the Nazis are invading countries in Europe. Nick Jenkins finds himself in command of a platoon training for war with the Germans. His company is a company whose officers are all primarily bankers and whose enlisted ranks seem filled with miners. Instead of a novel about a battle, or valor, or strategy -- we get a novel about marches, stolen rifles, moldy cheese, drinks, fights, and bureaucracy. Having two brothers and a brother-in-law, a father-in-law, and a father who have all served overseas during the 1st Gulf War, the Afghanistan War, or the War in Iraq, I can attest from their stories that the introductory quote is absolutely true. One of the biggest parts of war is the sitting, the boredom, the drudgery. It is punctuated by insanity and violence, but the violence is rare often only felt by the tip of the spear. The romance of war is both a myth and a lie. There is a quote that stuck with me from this novel, "A company commander...needs the qualifications of a ringmaster in a first-class circus, and a nanny in a large family" (pg 47). If the idea of boredom, duty and bureaucracy seems to persuade you to look elsewhere for your Sunday, literary entertainment, you must not yet understand the full appeal of Powell. He is able to examine this reality of the rearguard of war with an eye that picks up little gems about war, the military, and those engaged in war that seem to transcend time and sides. "Looked at calmly, war created a situation in which the individual -- if he wished to be on the winning side -- was of importance only in so much as he contributed to the requirements of the machine, not according to the picturesque figure he cut in the eyes of himself and others" (113). Anyway, Powell is able to paint a picture of the boredom of war that reminds me of the literary equivalent of the Flemish masters. This novel is not the equivalent of a soldier throwing himself on a grenade. This novel is a painting of three soldiers, hung-over, pealing potatoes in the rain. And yes, even that has its own majesty.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    Now WWII has started, and Nick is thrown into a completely different society. Military life is not exactly what he had thought, by turns boring and insane, with some strange characters in the mix. This installment goes in a much different direction from earlier ones, while still keeping us in the loop with familiar characters from the past. Still enjoying this series immensely, and looking forward to #8.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    I thought of this book when I was reading New Moon last week. In Stephenie Meyer's novel, the heroine is abandoned by her boyfriend, whom she believes to be the love of her life, and goes into a black depression. Meyer completely chickens out of describing what this is like. The early parts of the book are arranged as a diary; she just presents four months as empty, with no entries at all. Well, given the general level of her writing skills, she no doubt made a good pragmatic decision, but it is I thought of this book when I was reading New Moon last week. In Stephenie Meyer's novel, the heroine is abandoned by her boyfriend, whom she believes to be the love of her life, and goes into a black depression. Meyer completely chickens out of describing what this is like. The early parts of the book are arranged as a diary; she just presents four months as empty, with no entries at all. Well, given the general level of her writing skills, she no doubt made a good pragmatic decision, but it is in fact possible to do better than this. So, let's look at The Valley of Bones, Volume 7 of Powells's utterly brilliant Dance to the Music of Time. The first six books are full of incident. Nick has some memorable adventures at school, gets invited to classy and decadent parties, has a brush with the spirit world, and meets a variety of extraordinary people. Incidentally, it just occurs to me that he's also been recently abandoned by the love of his life. Give me warm, living, treacherous Jean any day in preference to cold, dead, faithful Edward. The scene where she opens the door to him naked is generally agreed to be the focal point of the entire series, and it's no accident that the BBC adaptation started here. In Volume 7, World War II has broken out, and Nick, who's really too old to serve but feels he has to anyway, has pulled strings to get himself into the Army. The choices were limited, and he's been assigned to a Welsh regiment, stuck in Northern Ireland and doing, basically, nothing very much. Instead of his usual cohort of glittering artists, socialites and eccentric peers, he's surrounded by dull-as-ditchwater miners and clerks, most of whom are ten to twenty years younger than him, and who view him with a mixture of suspicion and contempt. Stephenie Meyer would probably have given us four or five empty chapters. Powell describes it all, in perfect and understated detail. I remember reading this for the first time (I've since re-read it twice), and thinking how boring it was. About 50 pages in, I suddenly got the point. Of course it's boring. That's what Nick's existence is like. Boredom is also a part of life, and knowing how to deal with it is extremely important. And after a while, he sees, and you do too, that his life isn't nearly as boring as he'd imagined. There are some surprising dramas going on among these, at first sight, incredibly dull people. And the next two books, which have rather more happening, wouldn't be as realistic without the low-key introduction. But it's true, Powell is probably never going to outsell Meyer, so from that point of view she got it right. Though I still prefer Powell's treatment. As usual in Dance, the moral is that you get what you pay for.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    Another Powellian delight The Valley of Bones is Volume 7 of "A Dance to the Music of Time" and is yet another great instalment in this wonderful 12 novel series. I am now finding it harder and harder to read other books as I work my way through the "A Dance to the Music of Time" novels. Indeed I have now concluded that this effort of will is beyond me and, as far as possible, I am going to exclusively read this series until that sad day arrives when I turn the last page of Volume 12. The Valley Another Powellian delight The Valley of Bones is Volume 7 of "A Dance to the Music of Time" and is yet another great instalment in this wonderful 12 novel series. I am now finding it harder and harder to read other books as I work my way through the "A Dance to the Music of Time" novels. Indeed I have now concluded that this effort of will is beyond me and, as far as possible, I am going to exclusively read this series until that sad day arrives when I turn the last page of Volume 12. The Valley of Bones begins in Wales. It's early 1940, the beginning of World War 2, and narrator Nick Jenkins, having secured a full time role in the army, is with his new platoon. This development heralds the introduction a host of new characters. Indeed, with the exception of a weekend's leave, where we catch up with various members of the Tolland family, and a few other familiar older characters, the entire book is about Nick's new army world. I noticed many parallels with Evelyn Waugh's splendid "Sword of Honour" in particular the tedium, the mix of eclectic and disparate characters having to live in close proximity, and the self-delusion and vanity which accompanied some of the nascent military careers at the onset of war. The most notable character, amongst a host of great cameos, is Captain Gwatkin whose dreams of personal and military ambition are thwarted in a cruel black comedy. There is one person who is curiously absent from this book, excepting for a few oblique references, however as the book closes there he is in all his idiosyncratic glory - Kenneth Widermpool. So, onwards and upwards as I move on to The Soldier's Art ("A Dance to the Music of Time" Volume 8) which I eagerly anticipate. 4/5

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

    This sequence of novels continues to delight. This time, Nick is dealing with the tedium and inefficiencies of being in the army in the early days of the war, nowhere near any active service. The problem of not knowing what a codeword means is wonderfully illustrated when Nick is on phone-answering duty in the Company Office. "It was Maelgwyn-Jones, Adjutant of our Battalion. 'Fishcake,' he said." ... After repeats of this: "'Fishcake, I tell you ...' I know Leather and Toadstool ...' 'Fishcake has tak This sequence of novels continues to delight. This time, Nick is dealing with the tedium and inefficiencies of being in the army in the early days of the war, nowhere near any active service. The problem of not knowing what a codeword means is wonderfully illustrated when Nick is on phone-answering duty in the Company Office. "It was Maelgwyn-Jones, Adjutant of our Battalion. 'Fishcake,' he said." ... After repeats of this: "'Fishcake, I tell you ...' I know Leather and Toadstool ...' 'Fishcake has taken the place of Leather - and Bathwater of Toadstool. What the hell are you dreaming about?'" Nick goes off to see Gwatkin, the captain: "'But we were not to get Fishcake until we had been signalled Buttonhook.' 'I've never heard of Buttonhook either - or Bathwater. All I know are Leather and Toadstool.'" Wonderful stuff.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is the seventh novel in the sequence of twelve books of the series "A Dance to the Music of Time." It was published in 1964, it is the first of the war trilogy, poignantly capturing the atmosphere of the time whilst offering a subversively comic view of Army life. Its sequel is "The Soldier's Art." 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 This is the seventh novel in the sequence of twelve books of the series "A Dance to the Music of Time." It was published in 1964, it is the first of the war trilogy, poignantly capturing the atmosphere of the time whilst offering a subversively comic view of Army life. Its sequel is "The Soldier's Art." 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) 4* Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time, #5) 4* The Kindly Ones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #6) 4* 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)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    In "The Valley of Bones" Nick Jenkins is a Second Lieutenant in the army. Set in 1940, his regiment has been training in Wales and Northern Ireland. The regiment, composed mostly of former Welsh bankers, has not seen any action yet. Powell includes lots of military humor in this book, as well as some philosophical thoughts about war. When Nick is on leave from an Aldershot training course, he visits his wife and catches up on the news of his old friends in London (characters from previous books). In "The Valley of Bones" Nick Jenkins is a Second Lieutenant in the army. Set in 1940, his regiment has been training in Wales and Northern Ireland. The regiment, composed mostly of former Welsh bankers, has not seen any action yet. Powell includes lots of military humor in this book, as well as some philosophical thoughts about war. When Nick is on leave from an Aldershot training course, he visits his wife and catches up on the news of his old friends in London (characters from previous books). As usual in this series, Kenneth Widmerpool, Nick's obnoxious school acquaintance, pops up somewhere in the book. This is one of my favorites in the twelve-volume "A Dance to the Music of Time" which follows the lives of Nick and his English acquaintances from 1914 to 1971. As the story was ending, Nick received the ominous news that the Nazis were marching close to Paris so I anticipate that the next book will have a darker tone to it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    I really enjoyed this reread. It's a really interesting examination of army life in the Second War World. I really enjoyed this reread. It's a really interesting examination of army life in the Second War World.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kim Kaso

    The author caught the quotidian nature of serving in the military, the monotonous routine combined with serving with a variety of personalities. Petty politics exacerbate everyday life. Another good entry in the series.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    The Valley of Bones is the seventh book in Anthony Powell’s epic twelve novel sequence. With this novel, Powell leaves behind the familiar London streets, the society of large houses and clubs that in the previous six novels we spent so much time. War has come to Europe, and changed everything for many people. As the novel opens in 1940 we find Nicholas Jenkins a Second Lieutenant in Wales. Here we are introduced to a host of new characters including Jenkins’ commanding officer Captain Gwatkin a The Valley of Bones is the seventh book in Anthony Powell’s epic twelve novel sequence. With this novel, Powell leaves behind the familiar London streets, the society of large houses and clubs that in the previous six novels we spent so much time. War has come to Europe, and changed everything for many people. As the novel opens in 1940 we find Nicholas Jenkins a Second Lieutenant in Wales. Here we are introduced to a host of new characters including Jenkins’ commanding officer Captain Gwatkin and the alcoholic Lieutenant Bithel. Bithel is a particularly brilliantly drawn character, a figure whose totally inaccurate reputation has apparently preceded him, and to which Bithel himself cannot possibly live up to. Jenkins - considered to be getting on a bit in his mid-thirties, undergoes training in Wales, and along with his battalion colleagues endures the tedium of army life while waiting for military operations to begin. Powell portrays the everyday minutiae of army life, the pranks and squabbles that only momentarily distract these men forced to suddenly live together. This is a different kind of world for Jenkins, and one he manages to fit himself into rather well. “I indicated that I wrote for the papers, not mentioning books because, if not specifically in your line, authorship is an embarrassing subject for all concerned. Besides, it never sounds like a serious occupation. Up to that moment, no one had pressed inquiries further than that, satisfied that journalism was a known form of keeping body and soul together, even if an esoteric one.” Jenkins’ battalion is moved to Castlemallock in Ireland, where Captain Gwatkin makes a mistake during an exercise, and there’s an inspection by an absurdly young General Liddament who is hilariously more concerned with whether the men have had porridge for breakfast than with much else. Jenkins is sent to Aldershot to a training course, on route to the course, Nick meets and becomes friendly with David Pennistone – who he vaguely recognises from years earlier. At Aldershot Jenkins meets Odo Stevens, and Jimmy Brent - another figure from the past. Rather uncomfortably Jenkins is required to listen to Brent’s account of his affair with Jean Templer, in a scene reminiscent of a similar one between Jenkins and Duport in The Kindly Ones. “Even when you have ceased to love someone, that does not necessarily bring an indifference to a past shared together. Besides, though love may die, vanity lives on timelessly. I knew that I must be prepared to hear things I should not like. Yet, although where unfaithfulness reigns, ignorance may be preferable to knowledge, at the same time, once knowledge is brutally born, exactitude is preferable to uncertainty.” It is Odo Stevens who gives Jenkins a lift to the house of his sister in law Frederica Budd, where Nick’s heavily pregnant wife Isabel is staying. Here Nick is to spend the weekend before heading back to Ireland. Robert Tolland and Priscilla are also staying, and Stevens manages to make something of an impression on Priscilla. At Frederica’s house Jenkins meets other familiar faces, including Umfraville, and Buster who pitches up just as Robert receives news his leave has been cancelled. Back in Ireland, Nick finds that Gwatkin has fallen for the charms of a local barmaid, who doesn’t appear to return his feelings. There is also something of a running battle going on between Bithel and Gwatkin – who is soon replaced. Jenkins is ordered to report to headquarters to meet the DAAG (a military acronym that remains meaningless to me) who naturally turns out to be an old friend. As always I enjoyed my monthly portion of Anthony Powell, however of the seven I have read so far this is the one I liked least. Powell’s world is one I enjoy reading about, his writing is really excellent, the characterisation complex and endlessly fascinating. However all those new characters at the beginning, and the change of place unsettled me more than I had expected, mirroring perhaps the unsettling nature of the changes brought to people by the war. At the same time I am looking forward to discovering what will be next for Nick Jenkins and his friends, and now I have met these new characters at least they will be familiar should I encounter them again. I really found myself missing those familiar old London haunts of the previous novels. Powell remains endlessly readable however, and my reading of this novel may well have been affected by my extreme tiredness, which makes remembering new characters more of a challenge.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sammy

    ‘No porridge?’ ‘No porridge, sir.’ General Liddament pondered this assertion for some seconds in resentful silence. He seemed to be considering porridge in all its aspects, bad as well as good. At last he came out with an unequivocal moral judgement. ‘There ought to be porridge,’ he said. In my review of The Kindly Ones, I said that the carnival of Europe was over after that heartbreaking day in September 1939. Here, however, in the 7th volume of Powell's Dance to the Music of Time, the carousel is ‘No porridge?’ ‘No porridge, sir.’ General Liddament pondered this assertion for some seconds in resentful silence. He seemed to be considering porridge in all its aspects, bad as well as good. At last he came out with an unequivocal moral judgement. ‘There ought to be porridge,’ he said. In my review of The Kindly Ones, I said that the carnival of Europe was over after that heartbreaking day in September 1939. Here, however, in the 7th volume of Powell's Dance to the Music of Time, the carousel is still moving. The calliope is starting to wheeze, true. The horses' faces have taken on a slightly macabre appearance in the fading neon lights. But there is still merriment. The Valley of Bones follows Nicholas Jenkins after he enlists in the army, posted to his Welsh regiment (training primarily in Northern Ireland) during 1940. The war is still an unknown quantity; there is little talk here of being posted overseas or of the grim horrors taking place on the continent. Instead, Powell's knack for deft character sketches, moments of high comedy, and comedies of errors proliferate. Aside from a brief stopover in London - where some old scenes are reframed in a new light - and the ominous final few pages, we see nothing of existing characters from Nick's background. This is a new war, a new world, and we are successfully estranged from his previous world. It is almost exclusively a comic novel, with a tiny number of pathos-laden passages baked in - especially the death of a supporting character reported from the continent. More tellingly, the final scene is the first time that Powell has left a book without a feeling of independent closure. War does not offer such certainties. This is wonderful stuff. As always, at least for readers who are (like me) younger and/or not British, I heartily recommend the unabridged recording of the novels by Simon Vance. So much of the dialogue in these books was designed to recall people - either specific individuals or more often well-known types from the era. Three generations and half a globe removed from Powell, I find Vance indispensable in introducing me to the speech patterns of these characters, and through their speech their personality - especially here, where dialect plays such an important role. I will feel more comfortable returning to the Dance - as I know I will several times - now that I have grasped the characters in all their complexity.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    This is the 7th book in Powell's 12 volume A Dance to the Music of Time and it as interesting as all of the books that preceded it. This book begins during the so-called phony war (late 1939 until the spring of 1940) where the narrator of the series Nick Jenkins finds himself commanding a platoon of British infantryman at a military base in England. At no point in the novel does Jenkins or his compatriots come anywhere near seeing military action. Powell effortlessly captures the boring mundanit This is the 7th book in Powell's 12 volume A Dance to the Music of Time and it as interesting as all of the books that preceded it. This book begins during the so-called phony war (late 1939 until the spring of 1940) where the narrator of the series Nick Jenkins finds himself commanding a platoon of British infantryman at a military base in England. At no point in the novel does Jenkins or his compatriots come anywhere near seeing military action. Powell effortlessly captures the boring mundanity of military life in what amounts to peace time conditions. The British society that Nick Jenkins maneuvers through in the previous six books is largely absent here. Jenkins goes on leave and visits his pregnant wife Isobel and various other members of her family as well as the charming reprobate Dicky Umfraville who seizes a chance to advance himself at the expense of Commander Buster Foxe Jenkins finds himself interacting with a host of soldiers who are clearly in a different strata of British society but the novel focuses of his interactions with his fellow officers. Company commander Roland Gwatkin, a banker in civilian life envisions the life of a warrior but fails in matters military and romantic. There is also the idiot alcoholic Bithel who lacks any social graces and is booted out of the company via promotion to command the regimental laundry. At the very end of the novel Jenkins is promoted to divisional headquarters at the behest of the ubiquitous Kenneth Widemerpool who needs a loyal associate to assist him in his never ending efforts to advance himself in British society. Jenkins agrees to accept this role as it is reported that the German are outside of Paris.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Catullus2

    The book mostly documents army life during WWII. However did we win?

  18. 4 out of 5

    David Mcangus

    With Britain on the precipice of full immersion into WW2. I thought it might give Powell the chance to expand his style and take his characters into environments they wouldn't be comfortable with. The jolt of living a relatively upper class existence and at once being thrust into a situation where they would be interacting and depending on people from all walks of life, I found an interesting prospect. Unfortunately that is yet to happen. Despite the drastic change in situation, the style and fo With Britain on the precipice of full immersion into WW2. I thought it might give Powell the chance to expand his style and take his characters into environments they wouldn't be comfortable with. The jolt of living a relatively upper class existence and at once being thrust into a situation where they would be interacting and depending on people from all walks of life, I found an interesting prospect. Unfortunately that is yet to happen. Despite the drastic change in situation, the style and focus of narration does not change as one might expect. This is largely because Nick is stationed in training throughout the novel and therefore the story is centred on the intermittent relationships that Nick establishes there. The focus of this instalment seemed to be on the farcical nature of military structure. This is a common theme in both the novels and memoirs that I've read that cover war. The lampooning of activity for activity's sake and the general chaos of bureaucracy under strict secrecy, all make an appearance and with humourless effect. If this is what you were hoping for at this point in The Dance, then it's likely that you will enjoy this next stage in Nick's life and the new characters he meets. But personally, it all felt a little too pleasant for its own good. As Nick constantly reiterates throughout the series, he is largely only concerned in his own life and immediate surroundings. There's certainly human truth here, but at times it's like a war isn't even going on. The reports that filter through regarding failed military operations are internalised and brushed off with little or no emotion. In many ways, it seems Powell has resolutely transposed the upper class life to the army, where almost all his characters are kept out of harm's way and allowed to converse as normal. This is accurate, as any memoir will show, normality is pursued at all times. But by choosing to not place Jenkins in the war directly, Powell discounts an opportunity to explore war through the eyes of a man, as readers, we have come to know rather well. This might change in the future books, but as it stands, I was somewhat disappointed the style wasn't challenged as I had hoped.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    THE VALLEY OF BONES, the seventh volume of Anthony Powell's sequence "A Dance to the Music of Time" sees World War II well under way. In early 1940 Nicholas Jenkins is assigned as a subaltern in a Welsh infantry unit, which is soon posted to Northern Ireland. The Dance perennially exhibits to the reader comical and grotesque personalities, and anyone who has ever done military service knows that nowhere else do you meet such a variety of odd people in such a short time. Thus we meet Gwatkin, a b THE VALLEY OF BONES, the seventh volume of Anthony Powell's sequence "A Dance to the Music of Time" sees World War II well under way. In early 1940 Nicholas Jenkins is assigned as a subaltern in a Welsh infantry unit, which is soon posted to Northern Ireland. The Dance perennially exhibits to the reader comical and grotesque personalities, and anyone who has ever done military service knows that nowhere else do you meet such a variety of odd people in such a short time. Thus we meet Gwatkin, a banker who sees being called up as a path to glory; Bithel the officer and Sayce the private who someone persist in the army in spite of poor turnout and criminal incompetency; Gittins who mans the company store as if it were the world's most valuable treasure, and many more. Indeed, so absorbing are these new figures that the usual cast of characters sit out most of the novel, visited only in one portion where Jenkins is on leave. Widmerpool appears at the close of the novel, again performing his role as the antagonist of the series. In spite of some tragedies -- many characters we have followed to date are to perish in the War -- this is one of the most uproariously funny volumes so far. The mysterious commander of their division is ultimately revealed to be a eccentric old man obsessed with eating a proper breakfast. Incidental matters of military routine descend into farce. And then there is an apocryphal quotation from Lord Byron that, like the earlier parody of Pepys, shows Powell's keen familiarity with the English canon. THE VALLEY OF BONES maintains the high standard of Powell's 12-volume work and I look forward to moving onto the next.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tom Ewing

    A pleasure to return to Anthony Powell's series, which begins its wartime, 'Autumn' trilogy with a novel centred on the haphazard bureaucracy of the early Second World War and an almost entirely new cast. As is usually the case, the arc of one particular character gives the book its individual shape within the sequence - in this case, the truncated military career of Rowland Gwatkin, Welsh bank employee turned eager officer. While the narrator, Nick Jenkins, has joined up out of duty and reacts A pleasure to return to Anthony Powell's series, which begins its wartime, 'Autumn' trilogy with a novel centred on the haphazard bureaucracy of the early Second World War and an almost entirely new cast. As is usually the case, the arc of one particular character gives the book its individual shape within the sequence - in this case, the truncated military career of Rowland Gwatkin, Welsh bank employee turned eager officer. While the narrator, Nick Jenkins, has joined up out of duty and reacts to the necessary pettiness of military life with stoicism, Gwatkin, his Commander, is a man keen to make an impression. As it turns out, Gwatkin is looking to make good on the unspoken frustrations of his life and fulfil an inarticulate need for a fresh start. If you've read the previous books in the series, however, you'll know which way to bet on a Powell character's ability to change. War provides an interruption in cast and scene, and much broader comedy after the more finely observed jousting of the 'Summer' books. But Jenkins' (and Powell's) observations and self-reflections are as astute as ever, and The Valley Of Bones never feels like a break in its narrator's journey. Gwatkin and the rest of the military cast are an opportunity to reflect on what makes a good soldier - but ultimately this is a novel of work as much as war, and like all the books in the dance, a novel about ageing. For the first time the characters of Jenkins' generation are seen in steady contrast with much younger newcomers, and begin to divide into those whose lives retain momentum (the dreadful Widmerpool naturally included) and those who are beginning to simply run down.

  21. 4 out of 5

    gwayle

    This installment widens the series' social lens: Nick is in the army now, and those that come under Powell's probing gaze are no longer part of the upper class or intellectuals or those Nick has known since childhood--in fact, only a few regular characters appear briefly in this novel. Powell's insights on human nature remain compelling, and we get more of Nick's feelings of boredom and depression (he's not--yet?--in active combat) as the machine grinds him down and he fulfills his unglamorous, This installment widens the series' social lens: Nick is in the army now, and those that come under Powell's probing gaze are no longer part of the upper class or intellectuals or those Nick has known since childhood--in fact, only a few regular characters appear briefly in this novel. Powell's insights on human nature remain compelling, and we get more of Nick's feelings of boredom and depression (he's not--yet?--in active combat) as the machine grinds him down and he fulfills his unglamorous, frustrating, and tedious duties. (How does Powell achieve such a wonderful read in spite of this drudgery?!) Throughout, Powell explores the types of personalities attracted to the military for one reason or another (romance, patriotism, sense of order, sense of duty, ambition). Though Nick is surrounded by strangers, many of the soldiers in his company know each other, and their ranks don't necessarily line up with the pecking orders long established in their civilian lives, and this paves the way for some tense and revealing scenes. The military seems to favor and reward a certain type of zeal that Nick, of course, lacks, and in his mid-thirties, Nick is seen as past his prime and therefore expendable in the armed forces' cult of youth. I'm surprised at how fascinating I found the military stuff; thus far, everything that Powell touches turns to gold. Onward!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Arukiyomi

    For me, the beginning of three books that make up the war trilogy section of A Dance to a Music of Time was an entertaining read with more of a tendency to farce than any of the previous novels so far. I wondered if this was the result of Powell’s own experience in the war. Those of you hoping for any action sequences will be disappointed. Nick Jenkins sees no combat service and is, instead, involved in a series of bureaucratic posts that seem, to me at least, interminably dull occupations. There’ For me, the beginning of three books that make up the war trilogy section of A Dance to a Music of Time was an entertaining read with more of a tendency to farce than any of the previous novels so far. I wondered if this was the result of Powell’s own experience in the war. Those of you hoping for any action sequences will be disappointed. Nick Jenkins sees no combat service and is, instead, involved in a series of bureaucratic posts that seem, to me at least, interminably dull occupations. There’s the occasional military exercise to spice things up a bit but, for the most part, this novel in the sequence is most memorably characterised by comic events involving various army personnel. When I say ‘comic’ here, please bear in mind that they might raise a faint smile rather than see you split your sides laughing. Like the narrator he has created, Powell seems far too straight laced to actually be able to make anyone laugh out loud. The characters plod on. Widmerpool surfaces again (as I believe he does in all 12 novels at some point), this time in the role of a rising star of wartime administration. But several more are introduced often with most ludicrous names. What parents would ever call their son Odo for goodness sake?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Third time through, this time on audio. I had forgotten (or never realized -- not sure which) how funny this volume is. As others have pointed out, the vast array of characters developed in the first six novels are not all that prominent. In a way, I think this novel is the pivot point away from the more insular world of the interwar England and the pointer to the larger world of the war and postwar world to come. It's also a way to show the tedium of military life away from the front and the sh Third time through, this time on audio. I had forgotten (or never realized -- not sure which) how funny this volume is. As others have pointed out, the vast array of characters developed in the first six novels are not all that prominent. In a way, I think this novel is the pivot point away from the more insular world of the interwar England and the pointer to the larger world of the war and postwar world to come. It's also a way to show the tedium of military life away from the front and the shock of being thrown in with large numbers of people not of one's "natural" milieu. And, Powell is able to draw a lot of humor (or humour) from the many minor inconveniences and nuisances of army life as well as from the very different types that Nick encounters. But, never at their expense or, at least, no more so than from his usual circles.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    I love this series. It's as rich as any fiction I've read and the deeper one goes into the 12-novel cycle the better it gets. I love this series. It's as rich as any fiction I've read and the deeper one goes into the 12-novel cycle the better it gets.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    And the gossip and ennui moves to the war...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Hunter

    Yet again, an infinitely lovable book from Anthony Powell. The Valley of Bones is the seventh installment in Powell's twelve-novel series A Dance to the Music of Time, and the first part of what's called the war trilogy. The entire book is set in the British Isles during the early months of World War II. Tedium and mounting fear of invasion impact all forms of relationship. Powell uses the backdrop of war on the Continent to unleash some of his best character development work to-date. Perfect exa Yet again, an infinitely lovable book from Anthony Powell. The Valley of Bones is the seventh installment in Powell's twelve-novel series A Dance to the Music of Time, and the first part of what's called the war trilogy. The entire book is set in the British Isles during the early months of World War II. Tedium and mounting fear of invasion impact all forms of relationship. Powell uses the backdrop of war on the Continent to unleash some of his best character development work to-date. Perfect example - Captain Rowland Gwatkin. Powell's early description of the dramatic "split" in personality signaled by Gwatkin's name sets the bar high for the remainder of the read:Even his name seemed to split him into two halves, poetic and prosaic, 'Rowland' at once suggesting high deeds: ... When Rowland brave, and Olivier, And every paladin and peer, On Roncesvalles died! 'Gwatkin', on the other hand, insinuated nothing more impressive than 'little Walter', which was not altogether inappropriate.I'm not sure who "little Walter Gwatkin" might have been, but I'm guessing a person with rube-like qualities. Whatever the case, brilliant. Powell's use of Nick's random encounter with acquaintance David Pennistone to philosophize about soldiering is equally awesome:" ... the soldier is a dedicated person, a sort of monk of war ... Those in uniform have made the greater sacrifice by losing the man in the soldier - what he call's the warrior's abnegation, his renunciation of thought and action. Vigny says a soldier's crown is a crown of thorns, amongst its spikes none more painful than passive obedience ... the army [is] a way of life in which there is as little room for uncontrolled fervour as for sullen indifference. The impetuous volunteer has as much to learn as the unwilling conscript."Great, right? Then there's Powell's description of complex feelings experienced when hearing for the first time of an ex-lover's romantic history:“Even when you have ceased to love someone, that does not necessarily bring an indifference to a past shared together. Besides, though love may die, vanity lives on timelessly. I knew that I must be prepared to hear things I should not like. Yet, although where unfaithfulness reigns, ignorance may be preferable to knowledge, at the same time, once knowledge is brutally born, exactitude is preferable to uncertainty.”Astute stuff! No doubt, Powell speaks from personal experience. Not surprisingly, war disrupts all social and professional relationships in Powell's England. Army life pushes narrator Nick outside of London - city, social gatherings and all - for the novel's entirety. New and peripheral characters abound. As a result, I found myself missing the social gatherings and Nick's adventures with older "Bright Young Things" friends like Stringham, Templer, Moreland and others. Powell took me from the social center of his A Dance to the Music of Time and left me feeling a bit dislocated. I suspect the influx of new war-linked characters will add plenty of zest to later installments in the series. Onward to book 8, The Soldier's Art!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    My first completed book of the new year. And a good one it was. This series continues to impress this reader. My favorite quote from this volume: I was impressed for the ten thousandth time by the fact that literature illuminates life only for those to whom books are a necessity. I totally relate to the character Nick Jenkins frustration in trying, in vain, to convey the beauty and power of literature to those who simply do not read books. This, alas, seems to be the vast majority of people i My first completed book of the new year. And a good one it was. This series continues to impress this reader. My favorite quote from this volume: I was impressed for the ten thousandth time by the fact that literature illuminates life only for those to whom books are a necessity. I totally relate to the character Nick Jenkins frustration in trying, in vain, to convey the beauty and power of literature to those who simply do not read books. This, alas, seems to be the vast majority of people in my little circle of life. Oh well...cheers and onwards!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    War begins. The boredom and absurdity of military life. The loosening of class barriers and sexual norms.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. With book VII in the twelve-part series of A Dance to the Music of Time, Anthony Powell brings us into the beginning of the war years. It is early 1940, and Nick Jenkins, our narrator, has joined the British army where he begins his service as a platoon leader. The trouble with an epic tale that attempts to kick off the shackles of traditional plot is that it’s very hard to feel the import of any particular occurrence. In fact, the whole idea that happenings have import at all is challenged by P With book VII in the twelve-part series of A Dance to the Music of Time, Anthony Powell brings us into the beginning of the war years. It is early 1940, and Nick Jenkins, our narrator, has joined the British army where he begins his service as a platoon leader. The trouble with an epic tale that attempts to kick off the shackles of traditional plot is that it’s very hard to feel the import of any particular occurrence. In fact, the whole idea that happenings have import at all is challenged by Powell’s series. In a traditional novel, there are arcs in both plot and theme that shape the events. In this series, Powell replaces those arcs with the crossing of paths. The unifying force of the novel is the cast of characters that dance in and out of the narrator’s life. As I’ve said in my other blogs about this series, this makes for both very interesting reading as well as what sometimes feels at least like pointless reading. Will all this add up to anything? Is it critical in the long run to remember who is who and who did what? Naturally, some of the books in the series are more riveting than others. The Valley of Bones is one of the less riveting books. It feels like Act One of a larger drama about to unfold throughout the three books of the third “movement” of the series (the edition I have groups the series into four sets of three and calls each set a “movement”). The stage has been set for army life and for a new group of characters to come in and out of Nick’s life. As for actual doings, not much that is exciting transpires. Nick meets Jimmy Brent and learns about why Jean left Nick those many years ago. There is a military exercise. Nick is set up in Aldershot at the Anti-Gas school. His brother-in-law Robert Toland dies in the war. Priscilla is hit on by one of Nick’s military acquaintances, Odo Stevens. Charles Stringham’s mother has left Buster in favor of Norman Chandler. Dicky Umfraville becomes engaged to Frederica Budd. I feel like I’m spreading gossip more than summarizing events in a novel. To me, the weight of each book exists in relation to each other. I find it hard to imagine someone reading the books as they were individually published over the twenty-plus years it took to write them. Each book can technically stand on its own, but I can’t imagine what an uninteresting read it was when read by itself. The writing is admirable and intelligent, and Nick is a fun guide through the world, but each book on its own has only a few wow moments and very little narrative drive. So what’s Powell doing in this seventh book? I don’t know. The title, The Valley of Bones, is taken from a sermon delivered at the end of the first chapter. Ironically the titular valley is not about those fallen in battle, but about the breathing of life into men already dead who will come together and build up an army. Both life and death are sewn together in the one title—but what that adds up to, I can’t tell you. Are the men here given new life by the coming of the war? I don’t think so. Is this about the romanticism of war in the early years? That seems more likely, especially since Nick does not find army life especially agreeable to him. Age seems to be a recurring theme in the novel. Nick is older than he should ideally be to join the army, and he engages either with other men in the same boat where age is concerned, like Captain Gwatkin, or with youthful men full of energy and zealousness, like Kedward. Why is this age stuff here, beyond the general demands of realism? Just as the war thrusts Britain into a new age, are Nick and his generation transitioning into a new stage of life, the middle age? The same issues of class seem to be at play, as the army elevates those business minded individuals like Widmerpool, Sunny Farebrother, and the staff of erstwhile bankers. Those who were once miners are now foot soldiers, however, and do not seem to be flying up the ranks. There is movement in some quarters then and stagnation in others. I’m not even at all sure that Powell thinks in terms of themes, though he does seem to know how to milk symbols and meaningful moments, so I can’t help believing that he is “saying” something in the end. But I’m afraid I won’t have a handle on that until, appropriately enough, the end.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Judi Moore

    I have found all 7 of these volumes of A Dance to the Music of Time glorious and unputdownable. Mr Powell's sentence construction is oddly un-modern (he uses many, many commas) but that doesn't matter. Not an awful lot happens in each book (I'm a big fan of plot) but time and again I find it's 4 in the morning and my eyes refuse to focus on the next paragraph. I have 2 more volumes on the 'to read' pile (goody) and then I await Christmas when my kindly brother will supply the final 3. They're ab I have found all 7 of these volumes of A Dance to the Music of Time glorious and unputdownable. Mr Powell's sentence construction is oddly un-modern (he uses many, many commas) but that doesn't matter. Not an awful lot happens in each book (I'm a big fan of plot) but time and again I find it's 4 in the morning and my eyes refuse to focus on the next paragraph. I have 2 more volumes on the 'to read' pile (goody) and then I await Christmas when my kindly brother will supply the final 3. They're about a middle-class Englishman (Nick)beginning with his school days just after WWI and then following him through his life. One supposes that they are actually a memoire of Anthony Powell, who is the same age as the protagonist (volume 7 was first published in 1964). There is, indeed, a guide to the 12 volumes ('Invitation to the Dance')which investigates the characters 'fictional and factual', music, literature and art contained in them. I haven't read it. It helps if you read them reasonably close together or (like War and Peace, which I never finished for this very reason) one tends to forget who's who. But ADTTMOT is much less complicated than War and Peace. There was a TV dramatisation which, like all TV dramatisations which one would really like to see again (except The Camomile Lawn which was on recently)They have never repeated. In each of the 12 volumes occurs Widmerpool - a toad of a character who looms over the books, by the time you get to Volume 7, in a 'where's Wally?' sort of way.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.