Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art.
In the second volume they move to London in a whirl of marriage and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and failures. These books "provide an unsurpassed picture, at once gay and melancholy, of social and artistic life in Britain between the wars" (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.).
The third volume follows Nick into army life and evokes London during the blitz. In the climactic final volume, England has won the war and must now count the losses. In this third volume of A Dance to the Music of Time, we again meet Widmerpool, doggedly rising in rank; Jenkins, shifted from one dismal army post to another; Stringham, heroically emerging from alcoholism; Templer, still on his eternal sexual quest. Here, too, we are introduced to Pamela Flitton, one of the most beautiful and dangerous women in modern fiction. Wickedly barbed in its wit, uncanny in its seismographic recording of human emotions and social currents, this saga stands as an unsurpassed rendering of England's finest yet most costly hour. Includes the novels: The Valley of Bones, The Soldier's Art, and The Military Philosophers.
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.
"Nick's bewilderment, frustrations, and brief moments of joy as he negotiates life in the service are expertly conveyed by narrator Simon Vance. From the pomposity of the newly promoted to the silent acceptance of those assigned to menial labor, Vance captures the surreal world of the noncombatant soldier." (AudioFile)
"One of the most important works of fiction since the Second World War. . . . The novel looked, as it began, something like a comedy of manners; then, for a while, like a tragedy of manners; now like a vastly entertaining, deeply melancholy, yet somehow courageous statement about human experience." (The New Yorker)
"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)
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Engrave no battle on his cheek...
Lose Yourself in Time
I made it through all 12 of the Powell novels, and I found myself enjoying this set of three as much as any of them. The war years put Nick's experiences against a backdrop I feel I know, and the war itself brings a casual violence to the proceedings that I missed in some of the other dinner-party and art gallery scenes of the other movements.
That said, I think you have to start with the First Movement and move forward. These ultimately aren't independent novels so much as a continuation of what's come before.
I would not have made it through these books without his sustained excellence. He does different voices with staggering subtlety and he reads with unusual speed, a definite plus when you're talking about more than 80 hours of listening.
- Joe Kraus