I love this series, although not everyone will. There is not much action. In fact, the author's genius lies in making small events interesting and com..Show More »pelling, as trivial incidents take on a larger than life character. The language is exquisite with a subtlety we have pretty much lost in the past few decades but that some readers will find refreshing and delightful, as I do. I often find myself pausing to appreciate a particular turn of phrase. The series also contains humor and pathos, and provides considerable insight into various aspects of human relations.
The first novel in the series is a coming of age novel set in an English "public school" (i.e. a private school in North American terminology) and then at Oxford and is reminiscent of Brideshead Revisited and various other novels. Later novels follow the narrator through to late middle age against the background of the great events of the mid-20th century. But the great events never take center-stage, which is always occupied by small scale yet fascinating interactions between the characters.
I had read the series three times before listening to it, and I found listening provided a new dimension to my appreciation. Before starting I was worried that the narrator might not do justice to the text but he is actually very good.
Anyone looking for an action-packed adventure should look elsewhere, but for those who enjoy the subtleties of the English language and who find mid-20th century England an enjoyable milieu this series would be a good investment.
Unfortunately we can't hyperlink in these reviews, but even Ian Rankin testifies to the enjoyableness of this series. When replying to a question som..Show More »ething like, "best gift book ever' he wrote in The Guardian: "I started reading the first book, thinking: not sure I'm going to like this. All snobby privilege and a world I won't be interested in. By volume two, I was hooked. Widmerpool and the others were such good company, and the writing was elegant and concise, so I bought the rest of the books in the series."
No matter if you are an Oxbridge or a Rebus type, a Brit, a Yankee or a Commonwealther, give Powell a chance, and your mind will dance with delight: elegant, concise, good company -- what more can we ask of a novel? Maybe that it's beautifully read to you - and Vance does just that.