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 the background of this second volume of A Dance to the Music of Time, the rumble of distant events in Germany and Spain presages the storm of World War II. In England, even as the whirl of marriages and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and failures gathers speed, men and women find themselves on the brink of fateful choices. Includes the novels: At Lady Molly's, Casanova's Chinese Restaurant, and The Kindly Ones
As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Anthony Powell's book, you'll also get an exclusive Jim Atlas interview.
In this exclusive interview with Audible Modern Vanguard host Jim Atlas, Charles McGrath contrasts Anthony Powell’s multi-volume masterpiece with the novels of Marcel Proust and Evelyn Waugh. In its scope – a universe populated by over 300 characters! - Dance to the Music of Time has as much in common with character-driven TV series like The Wire and The Sopranos as it does with other classics of British social comedy.
This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.
©1962 Anthony Powell (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"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)
"Simon Vance is a master of differentiating characters and conveying a complexity of emotions while allowing listeners room to experience their own reactions. Vance skillfully guides us through Nick's London of artists, musicians, and writers; the several faces of marriage; and the odd mix of hope and fear as the world slips once again into a nightmare." (AudioFile)
Love having someone read me a story. Fires in the hearth, rain on the roof, sunny days and surf. Good friends, good food and J S Bach.
Having now listened to all 4 Movements, I have found the First And Second Movements to be my favourites. Simon Vance's voice is so 'just right' for our hero. I did take the time to locate the painting referred to in the title and yes, seeing a print of that helps me understand how Anthony Powell has structured his story. So here we have Summer, and the fullness of life. In this case slap in the middle of WW2. In this, it is from a personal perspective. No great heroism, no great mirror for morality, more the impact of war, the loss of old friends, the recognition of human ambition and frailty. Having said that, this story flows so naturally, personalities develop and relationships alter .
Yes I do think this is very good. In time I expect I will listen again and enjoy it as much as I have done now.
If you have enjoyed the First Movement, I expect you will this one, The Second Movement.
Each time I read these books I find new parts that resonate for me today. This is the first time I have listened to them, the entire series, and have enjoyed them immensely. The reader is brilliant. The individuals are all distinctive and the humor and irony in Powell's writing becomes very evident.
I look forward to listening again in a few years time.
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. Told through the eyes of Nick Jenkins (the author), the book covers politics, class-consciousness, society, culture, love, social graces, manners, education, power, money, snobbery, humour, and more. Students of British history will no doubt recognize the real-life persons thinly disguised as characters in these novels.
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.
Individual episodes stand out here, but the whole of the movement serves to keep Powell's project moving forward. It gets frustrating to find that characters you're curious about simply drift away, and it gets a bit confusing as new ones -- especially artists whom I got the feeling were based on historical figure I might or might know -- emerge all at once as central.
If you start this one, you've already gotten intrigued by that first movement. If you finish this one, you're probably hooked to the finish. At least that's how it went for me.
Anthony Powell captured my imagination circa 1966, not so long after I first read Tolkien.
Nick Jenkins is the narrator, and his amused and amusing use of the language to describe people he meets - mostly with seriously memorable dialog - feeds back into his reflection and imaginings as he grows from childhood into old age. The chosen reader is simply excellent, and his literal "voice" truly adds remarkable value.
If you already love A Dance to the Music of Time, I suspect you will share my joy at another "reading" by this talented production team.
If you have not, get ready for history written one conversation at a time, with seriously realized characters who keep growing, changing, surprising and not surprising.
This book would have been vastly improved by having significant female characters in the story. It would be more interesting if it weren't so extremely wordy. It would be more interesting if there were some, any significant action. There is some dry humor, but it's not worth the effort.
There is no way to relate to any of the characters in the story, unless you happen to share their orientation, i.e., English, older probably too old to read this now, and by all means, male.
All if them.
If I could I would ask to get my credits back. I have tried valiantly to read this set of books three separate times. Now, I believe I'll just delete them. They're not worth the space they take up.
"The narrative moves on"
To enjoy this next instalment of this loosely autobiographical novel (the narrator Nicholas Jenkins is reputed to be Powell) I think one needs to have listened to the First Movement where the main characters are introduced otherwise the nuances of the relationships will be lost. There's a lot of writing to evoke the era and the story moves slowly with many diversions to include a wealth of characters which, apparently, to those in know are based on real people, but many will now be unfamiliar to most of us. These many hours of listening in the Second Movement cover the inter-war years and the ups and downs of the people we met in the First Movement. I think there's an advantage to listening to this set of 12 books that together comprise the three Movements (9 parts in total as downloads) as one can be doing other things as the same time. I must admit that at times it was just verbal wall-paper keeping me company as I walked in the hills, but as the hours flow by I am getting more wrapped up in Nick and his associates lives.
The narrator is excellent and deserves a medal for the huge task of recording the whole series.
enthralling, excellent for commuting. It spans a vast repertoire of behaviour with a light but piercing touch. Narrator excellent. The characters weave and interweave through time over decades.
writing a review of the second movement is perhaps a waste of time: if you've encountered - and completed - the first, then surely you will be hooked. I read the first movement, and was so glad to listen to the rest.
simon vance is a superb narrator of powell, and captures the comedy running through the novels very well indeed. widmerpool is a creation of absolute genius. these are long reads, which could not be described as page turners, that I found myself captivated by.
the books themselves are, for me, as good as writing gets. they are often criticised for focusing on the lives of the upper classes, but i don't think that is valid. the books offer a wonderful insight into british society in the first half of the century.
I cannot recommend these books highly enough. Not everyone will enjoy them, but those who do will absolutely adore them.
"A privilege to have read it"
Good, better, best.
His range of voices.
If I were Powell, perhaps I would be able to write well enough to describe how fantastically good this cycle of books is—but I am not. What I can say is that it is an astonishing work of literature. The writing is simple and clear, it is by turns humorous and tragic, just like life.
I enjoyed every sentence; when I had to stop I was irritated by the interruptions; I was sorry when it ended and I feel that reading it was my time best spent.
Simon Vance, who narrated the entire twelve books, gave voice to a whole world of men and women, all with their own vocal affectations, habits and accents, all distinct and recognisable. He is obviously a truly talented artist but that sort of reading needed far more than just talent, it required the sort of application that most people would have trouble holding for a few hours, let alone the weeks or even months that recording this massive work would have involved.
The irony is that both writer and actor put so much work into the Music of Time books and they are so skilled at their jobs that the whole thing appears completely effortless.
"Volumes 4-6 of the Twelve volume sequence"
Excellent acting, excellent characterisation. If the teeny social world that the books inhabit has become interesting, or if Powell's orotund but stunning prose has gripped you in the first three volumes, these are unmissable. "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" deals with issues like infant mortality and the Spanish Civil War that Powell can't manage. Then "The Kindly Ones" locates the shambles left by the First War, and the encroaching terror of the Second War, and it's just brilliant. And you can't read six until you've read five. Difficult. Half way there.
"As good as the first"
An excellent continuation of the story of the English upper and literary classes between the wars.
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