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Publisher's Summary

Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art.
In the second volume they move to London in a whirl of marriage and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and failures. These books "provide an unsurpassed picture, at once gay and melancholy, of social and artistic life in Britain between the wars" (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.).
The third volume follows Nick into army life and evokes London during the blitz. In the climactic final volume, England has won the war and must now count the losses. Four very different young men on the threshold of manhood dominate this opening volume of A Dance to the Music of Time. The narrator, Jenkinsa budding writer shares a room with Templer, already a passionate womanizer, and Stringham, aristocratic and reckless. Widermerpool, as hopelessly awkward as he is intensely ambitious, lurks on the periphery of their world. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, these four gain their initiations into sex, society, business, and art. Considered a masterpiece of modern fiction, Powell's epic creates a rich panorama of life in England between the wars. Includes these novels: A Question of Upbringing, A Buyer's Market, The Acceptance World.
As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Anthony Powell's book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews Charles McGrath about the life and work of Anthony Powell – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.
©1951 Anthony Powell (P)2010 Audible, inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Anthony Powell is the best living English novelist by far. His admirers are addicts, let us face it, held in thrall by a magician." (Chicago Tribune)
"A book which creates a world and explores it in depth, which ponders changing relationships and values, which creates brilliantly living and diverse characters and then watches them grow and change in their milieu. . . . Powell's world is as large and as complex as Proust's." (New York Times)
"Vance's narration captivates listeners throughout this outstanding examination of a life in progress." (AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Jennifer on 02-03-11

A Masterpiece on All Counts

A Dance to the Music of Time, inspired by the painting of the same name by Nicolas Poussin, was rated by Time magazine as one of the 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. Written by the English novelist Anthony Powell, who took almost 25 years to create the 12-volume set, provides a highly-literate and highly-amusing look into the English upper-middle class between the 1920s and the 1970s. The book covers politics, class-consciousness, society, culture, love, social graces, manners, education, power, money, snobbery, humour, and more.

Although daunting in terms of length, the absolutely brilliant narration by the talented Simon Vance rewards the reader over thousands of pages, hundreds of characters, and twelve installments of gorgeous prose. This is a not-to-be-missed collection of novels for any serious reader of English literature.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful


By Edith on 01-20-11

Unappreciated Gem

I won't belabor the point, earlier positive reviewers are right, this is an excellent production of an overlooked gem. It is full of lovely prose and a fascinating re-creation of a bygone era. The interview which accompanies the First Movement, which you should read first, makes an apt comparison to Proust, while pointing out that Powell's acute observations of character focus much less on the narrator and more on the other characters. There is little navel gazing here, and you come to appreciate the narrator "Jenkins" and his modesty which enables him to cast more light on other characters.

Readers of contemporary novels may struggle with the minimal plot of this book... very little happens during the first six hours of narration! But hang in there as Powell populates his world with memorable characters and transports you to another place and time.

Simon Vance does an excellent job.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Peter on 11-19-10

The best way to enjoy this true classic

The written version of this book is rightly regarded as an English classic, but its size (4 volumes)can be off-putting but this unabridged audio version makes it more accessible taking some of the pressure off of your time being read to you whilst driving or working with your hands or when your eyes are 'tired'. This reading highlights the perfect way in which the English language is used throughout the book. Only an unabridged version can really do this book justice. You will find yourself becoming attached to a whole host of characters and following them through their lives and traumas and 4 volumes. And as for value for money... it makes membership even more attractive!!

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful


By Louisa on 05-31-12

Completely compulsive and absorbing

This is a listening experience not to be missed! It’s true that the first three books (the first download) are not the best, but I’m giving 5 stars to the whole series because you have to get to grips with the first books in order to understand the whole series. Powell introduces nearly all the characters in the first books and you really have to work your way through the 12 books quite fast in order to remember who is who. Recognised as a 20th century classic, A Dance to the Music of Time holds up a mirror to a certain part of British society in the mid-20th century. It is completely compulsive. Once you have got to know the characters they take on depth and as you listen you become increasingly intrigued and involved in the story. Where the books are at their best is in the mid century, when they describe the war years and then the late 40s. With a very light touch, they evoke both post-war depression (gloomy, dark streets) and post-war optimism (new magazines and art movements). As things gradually get better in London, and Britain in general, the story comments on the major social improvements of the period, and some of the truly weird things which happened in the 60s and 70s – explaining, without judging, both the paranoia of some and the search for an alternative society of others. Simon Vance’s reading is masterly – every character has his or her own voice. He keeps faith with the main character, Nick, who looks on but never judges. This is not however, a bodice ripper – only a brilliant explanation of the 20th century. As far as listening is concerned it’s one of the very best books I’ve ever listened to – absolutely absorbing - you don’t want it to end, but it’s also one of those books you can just start all over again!

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By David Bloomsbury on 07-04-17

Alright performance, slow start to the saga.

clearly narrated, however the imitations made for the largely young cast of characters does not match the more elderly voice. I just hope that this comes to suit better as the main character grows older, along with, I assume, the general lot of other characters.

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By Robert on 05-04-16

As good as reading the book.

Love it, and I'm a long-term, yearly, reader of this 12 volume novel. Vance's reading of the characters voice's fitted with my existing expectations well

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