I'm a geologist and I use Audible books to while away long hours on the road... My pickup truck is my reading room!
Anthony Powell never manages to raise English public school angst to the intensity that Waugh does. Too much rumination, too much action left latent, to little drama. The only thing that recommends this series is that Audible's library of unabridged Evelyn Waugh novels is so inadequate....
As usual, Simon Vance's narration is excellent.
Listening to “A Dance to the Music of Time” is like hearing someone reminisce about his life – school years, vacations, parties, people he knew, etc. The first-person narrator, Nick Jenkins, talks a lot, but his recollections don’t go anywhere. There’s little plot, no drama, sporadic thoughtful observations, but, overall, no real insight to be gained.
As for the audio book narrator, Simon Vance, I have listened to his works probably a dozen times, and I don’t think this lilting, sonorous performance is his best. He needed to slow down and enunciate. I found that every time I started listening to this book, my mind wandered, and it became background noise. Frankly, for several weeks, I used it to lull myself to sleep at night, without feeling any real need, the next day, to rewind passages to find out what I’d missed.
Dull as dishwater. I couldn't find anything compelling in this story, and did something I very rarely do: stopped halfway through.
I've done a bit of research about this series, and I realize this is considered high literature, and that the characters are based on people that Powell knew or who were notable at the time this was written. Maybe it was interesting to those people who were in the know about these characters, but for me, this book was a bust. I just didn't care a whit about any of them.
There is no plot and by no plot I mean NOTHING. I listened and restarted this book 5 times.
There was nothing to keep my interest, no story line to follow. I tried so hard to find anything. It was literally a young gentleman and who he encounters, a short description of this person and some interaction. Then on to the next person/place. There was no one character that was fully developed. Nothing to relate to. I gave up before I even got to part 2 and I have only done that once before and I've listened audible stories for years.
I would not have approved it in the first place.
I suspect real editors will blanche as I compare this to the Ladies #1 Detective Agency. However, as in the L#1DA, the plot is secondary to the character development. In fact there is no plot. You simply get a picture of life in England during a particular period. It is indeed slow listening and that is the point. Before listening, download the Exclusive Interview with James Atlas and Charles McGrath on Anthony Powell. It will set the stage. Anyone hooked on the period pieces of the BBC or PBS should enjoy this book.
Avid "reader" of history - military and with a more British slant the past few years. Rarely read novels but Anthony Powell's DTMoTime zomg
I concur with all the glowing reviews of this audio book....the whole series.
Undoubtedly, Simon Vance's, always sterling several other audio books I have, is totally in the zone with this one.
The author's description of the mostly banal, prosaic events and interactions of the multitude of characters over the span of years, decades is quietly yet deeply fascinating.
Though weeks since finishing the final volume, I frequently listen again to various chapters. Powell puts highly descriptive words and phrases to elemental human events that I can so much identify but never the depth nor capacity of nuance to articulate.
To be honest, I'm floored by the positive reviews for this book. I have a pretty high tolerance for "slow" and for books without action. But if this book is a crashing bore, it's not because it's slow or without action, although it is. The book is a bore because we never learn enough about any one character--the narrator included--to care about him or her. The writing is good, but unexceptional. I was left in the final analysis to say, "Who cares about any of this?" Especially coming off Galsworthy's riveting Forsyte Saga, this was a big disappointment.
I enjoy British and period books, for the culture and history, and I deliberately seek out unabridged version of everything, but the details this author includes describing body language - posture, hand gestures, facial expressions and even breath sounds, etc - is too distracting from the dialogue. I have stopped listening after only a few hours of this narration. It is too painful to listen to the whole thing.
Listening to this reminds me of being cornered at a family reunion by an old uncle who tells EVERY incident of his life.
I read this book because I enjoyed Pillars and Fall of Giants so much, and I was looking for something along the same lines. This book absolutely blew both Fall of Giants and me away.
The narrator is compelling, the other characters fascinating, the historic background is there but not overwhelming... the portrait that it paints of both it's historical context and the inner workings of a human mind is just fantastic.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.