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 writershares 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.
©1951 Anthony Powell (P)2010 Audible, inc.
People who like traditional British understatement and detachment.
I can't think of one single exciting incident the main character experienced. He sounded like wallpaper. While the background could potentially provide some interesting characters and stories, the main character appears to be detached from everything and everyone - so the characters are not really developed. Perhaps with the same backdrop the story/plots could have been developed better and made more interesting with a more animated author.
Simon Vance is excellent here as always. I imagine I completed the book because of my previous good experiences with him. Alas the book did not pick up.
The main character, Nick Jenkins. His detachment (since he's the one telling the story)blunted my appreciation of the potentially more interesting lives of others around him.
Please take down the first 2 -3 comments. Completely misleading. I bought the book because of them and I feel misled.
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.
Disclaimer: I was not able to finish the book, It might have gotten better later.
This book might be enjoyed by someone who likes meandering plotlines and well thought out descriptions of things told with a nostalgic tone. It's literary fiction and if you just want to sit back and take in some poetic language and experience a scene, it might be fine.
If, like me, you like things to actually move the plot forward, this isn't for you. This is a little like On the Road if Kerouac's main character had been an English schoolboy.
Lack of movement. Lot of great language but it was just boring. There's a character called Stringum, and because my attention drifted for a moment I briefly thought it was a girl and that made the story a little interesting because it would make for a nice love interest. But no. All the characters are boys and none of them are gay as far as I could tell before I stopped listening.
I don't know what the main character wants, I can't see any sort of conflict. There is something about somebody's uncle that has gotten in trouble with the law for some reason, but no one seems all that concerned, it's just seems like a topic of dinner conversation. I might suspect that I'm just not English enough for this, but I listened through Bleak House and didn't get bored so I don't think that's it.
I think overall the emphasis in this book is in depicting how things look and feel, and not so much on story.
Simon Vance is mostly a narrator. It's been a while since I listened but I don't remember him doing any voices.
An abridged version might be better.
This understated book is the first of a series that grew on me and became enthralling. Written in form of an autobiography, it tells the life of an author from his boyhood after the first world war through his youth in school and at Oxford, his military service during the second world war, and afterward through his old age in perhaps the late 60s. The story is an assemblage of small moments in his relationships, in the military and otherwise mainly with artists, musicians and authors. One character recurs throughout, acting as a sort of archetypal figure of trage-comedy.
Some may find the pace too slow; there is little action, but give the books a chance. I found myself feeling as if I was there, too, seeing, hearing, feeling, even smelling, life as it was in England then. Taken as a whole, it has a mythic force. I found it haunting and well as amusing. Simon Vance achieves a tour de force of portraying widely diverse characters completely convincingly, enabling me to become immersed in the story.
I recommend listening to rather than reading these, at first, because the various accents of the characters are key to the story. Being unfamiliar with British class society, and their various accents, I would have lost a great deal if I had started with the books.
I got through about the first half of Part I. It introduced a number of interesting characters, but I couldn't discern any real story line.
Did I give up too soon?
I am afraid I have not finished this book, to hard to get in to it is slow and monotonous, 3 hours in and the book is going no where, bought on the recommendation of the narrator in a review. never again.
Listen nearly every day to an audiobook.
The print version of this book received rave reviews on other sites. Based on the reviews, I did not expect the book to be plot focused. I usually love British classics. Unfortunately, Simon Vance's performance seemed uninspired by the novel. I could not tell whether Vance, or the author, did not develop the characters into memorable individuals. I have listened to a number of well-acted audiobooks by Simon Vance. In this performance, I did not lose myself in his performance of the novel, and instead, found his distinctive voice a distraction.
I really really tried. I listened to over 13 hours, I even started over once thinking I was just not paying attention. I couldn't finish it. There is no plot. The characters are boring. I love long books. I love series. I love historical fiction. I hated this book and I have powered through some long slow starters and mediocre books before, but I just couldn't do it. I really wanted to love this book. I can't even say I liked it or it was "okay" I have over 600 audiobooks in my library and this is one of three that I just couldn't finish. It's dreadful! I rarely write reviews, but I needed to warn others to stay away!
Wow. What a slog. I almost tossed it (something I very seldom do) after a few hours in, but I was so pissed that I'd spent 12 credits on it that I gutted it out, which was a lot like an exercise in masochism. So many characters, such a fractured story line (if in fact there actually is one.) I kept waiting for something to coalesce, which it never does. The writing is sometimes exceptional, even brilliant, but by the time the sentence ends you've lost the author's original point. Mostly, it's just boring. I must say that Simon Vance is at his best, but that in no way makes up for this effort to turn what could have been a short story into a tome. Save your credits.
For those of you who are fans of Anthony Powell's Magnum Opus, I'm happy for you. I, however, so slow and tedious that I have stopped listening about half way through the first section of the first book. The narrator seems at the same time to be pretentious, boring, and withholding of information. The pace is incredibly slow. The events are trivial, and I just don't find that I care about the characters. I realize that some people find Mr. Powell's work superb and entertaining. I find myself dreading the remainder of this book, much less listening to the remaining books in this series. So I'm cutting my losses now.
"Oh god please get to the point"
Listen, even though I gave up on this book after part 1 I don't want you to think the guy can't write. He can. Really well. He knows his way around the language, it's subtleties and intricacies but why he feels the need to use so much of it to say so little I don't know.
I love wordy writers. Dylan Thomas is one of my favourite poets and I believe language is a thing of limitless possibilities and beauty but a work of prose needs some pace, humour and something to happen at least once every few chapters.
This book takes paragraph after monotone paragraph to describe really very little and I absolutely didn't believe in or care about any of the characters after listening for what felt like months.
Sorry , some say this is a classic but for me it is dull, lifeless, humourless stodge.
I am sorry, but I could not get to the end of this. It was so boring. I found the narrator very irritating with his 'Here is the News' type narration and after about 4 hours, had to stop and listen to something that would at least pique my interest!
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