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Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time #5)

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  450 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
A Dance to the Music of Time – his brilliant 12-novel sequence, which chronicles the lives of over three hundred characters, is a unique evocation of life in twentieth-century England.

The novels follow Nicholas Jenkins, Kenneth Widmerpool and others, as they negotiate the intellectual, cultural and social hurdles that stand between them and the “Acceptance World.”
Mass Market Paperback, 221 pages
Published 1978 by Fontana (first published 1960)
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This fifth period is a bit different. So far, all the volumes were consecutive in time, sometimes with a few years gap between one and the next. While at the beginning of Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant we jump back in time a few years and the Narrator introduces a different set of dancers. After the initial flashback however, the story continues and we find ourselves in the second half of 1936, when the Civil War in Spain has begun (and where I encounter the b
May 18, 2016 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

Anthony Powell is not the first writer to compare marriage to a state of war. He is nevertheless in a class of his own as he goes about pleading his case. Book five of his Dance sequence is centered around the study of several couples in the years leading to the World War Two. As he did in the previous novels, Powell starts with a reminiscence, a memory trigger for Nick Jenkins to take a look back at the defining events of his younger, pre-war years. In the present case we have a double exposure
May 20, 2016 Ted rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It is doubtful whether an existing marriage can ever be described in the first person and convey a sense of reality … To think at all objectively about one’s own marriage is impossible.

Well. I read the trilogy Spring in 2012.

Then I read the first book of Summer in February of 2015.

Now, over a year later, I’ve read the fifth of Powell’s 12 novels.

And I’m aiming to read the rest of them before the year is out.

or, if you prefer,

Takes place: first chapter, 1933 (reminiscences of 1928-9); rest of
Jun 29, 2016 Connie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writer Nick Jenkins and his artist friend Barnby spend an evening at the Mortimer pub and Casanova's Chinese Restaurant. Nick is introduced to a group of musicians, and becomes close friends with composer Hugh Moreland (based on Powell's friend Constant Lambert). This book revolves around the musicians and their marriages. Nick also marries, but still plays the role of the observer and does not reveal details of his own marriage. His leftist brother-in-law goes to Spain during the Spanish Civil ...more
Apr 11, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
There is probably something wrong about thinking you've realized your ideal -- in art or anywhere else. It is a conception that should remain in the mind."
― Anthony Powell, Casanova's Chinese Restaurant


Powell's fifth book opens with a flashback to the late 20s, and a discussion about love, marriage, and suicide. The book processes through the challenging marriages of Hugh Moreland (composer friend) and Maclintick (music critic friend) and their two difficult marriages. St John Clarke dies Erridg
Diane Barnes
Apr 30, 2016 Diane Barnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marriage, fidelity, infidelity, relationships, friendships, death and all things having to do with life as our hero grows older and deals with new information and family ties. Part 5 is excellent, and whets my enthusiasm for the rest of the series.
Apr 30, 2016 Nigeyb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Even the worst marriage is better than no marriage at all"

I can only reiterate some of the praise I have previously lavished on this series - it's pure pleasure. The writing is some of the best I have ever read.

In "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" (Vol 5) we've reached the mid-1930s, the backdrop includes the Abdication crisis and the Spanish Civil War. These seismic events, and the storm clouds gathering over Europe, are of only tangential concern to our narrator Nick Jenkins and his companions
This is the fifth book of the series "A Dance to the Music of Time and was originally published in 1960.

Exploration of themes of time and memory are developed here. As with several of the earlier volumes, there is a substantial time-overlap with previous books, the first part returning to the period before the death of Mr. Deacon. However, Casanova's Chinese Restaurant concentrates on a new set of characters, principally the composer Hugh Moreland, (based on Powell's close friend Constant Lamber
The detachment of the narrator really comes out in this volume of "A Dance to the Music of Time". Early on, in a reported conversation there is reference to Nick's wife being in a nursing home, and eventually it turns out she has had a miscarriage. For all the concern he has, you would think she had lost a pencil, or something equally unimportant. Another character and his wife have a child who lives for only a few hours. Again, it creates barely a ripple.

It's brilliantly done but curiously bloo
Dec 15, 2015 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Something tells me this isn't the last we'll hear of Audrey Maclintick.
It was going to be 4 stars until something clicked on the last page, so I re-read some passages and yes, it is 5 stars. I've learnt not to read a number of other books while reading the Dance books.
This book focuses on Moreland, the composer. There's a great discussion on marriage on pages 156-158.
Widmerpool is a no-show in this outing.

Some gems of lines throughout:
'professionally nauseous'
'carefully hedged praise'
'One alway
Jul 05, 2016 Paola rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maturity starts setting in - and perhaps symbolically, historical events now come more forcefully to the fore - we are in the days of the Spanish Civil War, which however still manifests as almost academic discussions of a war between different ideologies which is actually being played out in what still feels like a distant land. And even when one of their own gets involved, it is still mostly an extravagance which after all is to be expected of such a character. Yes there is political debate, b ...more
May 07, 2014 Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fifth book in Powell’s epic sequence opens as several others have done, with some reminiscence. Presumably during the Second World War our narrator Nick Jenkins considers the bombed out remains of a pub he once frequented, with a group of friends. However Nick’s memories do not yet take us to the war years, as he so often does, Powell plays around a little with time here. Returning to the late 1920’s early 1930’s Jenkins remembers the time when he first knew some musician acquaintances who h ...more
Jul 12, 2012 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading "Dance" is pure pleasure - this one is no exception. I don't want to finish the series in a hurry so I space them out, reading one every few other books. That way I have the next one to look forward to, as they are a wonderful antidote to some of the difficulties one may encounter in life! The writing is superlative too, so expect to find many other writers rather clunky, when you have just finished one of Powell's books.
Vit Babenco
Aug 02, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Spanish Civil War and the Abdication Crisis, music and fine arts, bohemians and socialites: all is interwoven into a complicated and admirable ornament.
In Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant Anthony Powell occupies himself by comparing the ways and styles of married life of the different personages.
“…in the end you discover that all this ill humour is nothing to do with yourself at all. In fact your wife is hardly aware that she is living in the same house with you. It was something that somebody
Webster Bull
Feb 21, 2013 Webster Bull rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am currently on volume 7, The Valley of Bones, but am posting the same review on each of the first six volumes, and will update as I move forward. Here's my impression so far of Powell's 12-volume Dance to the Music of Time:

Cleaning out my attic recently, I came across a four-foot file box stuffed with drafts of a book I once almost wrote. I had all but forgotten it. The book was a memoir of my early life with a theatrical troupe, a memoir I never finished for reasons beyond my control. Still,
Sep 01, 2009 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This fifth book in Powell’s twelve volume series apparently is narrated during or just after WWII, opening with reflections on locations destroyed in the Blitz, although the events took place a few years before, during the Spanish Civil War. As Hugh Moreland, a new character, is introduced, his history is intertwined with that of Mr. Deacon, who died several novels ago; this particular novel thus begins as a great leap backward in time, interrupting a chronology that has in general been rather l ...more
Lars Guthrie
May 22, 2009 Lars Guthrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Closing in on the halfway mark in the twelve volume 'Dance to the Music of Time' opus with number five. It is so entertaining reading this episodic work in order--just as much fun as a TV mini-series, or for that matter, 'The Sopranos.' This novel paricularly stood out because of its very clever and effective fast-forward-then-flashback opening used to introduce Moreland and other characters new to the reader but not to Nick Jenkins, the narrator. That fast forward opening lets you know that Wor ...more
Travelling Sunny
May 23, 2016 Travelling Sunny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love and infidelity, divorce and marriage, birth and miscarriage, suicide and death, drinking and addiction, war and politics... and gossip.

Once more I have traveled down memory lane with Nick Jenkins only to be surprised by where we landed. Gotta hand it to Powell... he certainly had a gift for unexpected twists.
Feb 20, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: century-of-books
Simply amazing. At once profound, yet gossipy and laugh out loud funny. the characters are so richly drawn, I have recognized them by the description of the gait of the character before the name was mentioned.
Mario Hinksman
May 14, 2016 Mario Hinksman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ian Brydon
Apr 15, 2016 Ian Brydon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find it very difficult to explain the charm of Anthony Powell's autobiographical roman fleuve, A Dance to the Music of Time, though the attraction is undeniable. As with the previous volumes, very little actually happens, and we continue to next to nothing about Nick Jenkins, the narrator and clear avatar for Powell himself.

This particular instalment immerses us in the chaotic classical music community of pre-war London, and introduces the troubled genius of composer Hugh Moreland (apparently
Apr 01, 2016 Stenwjohnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is Anthony Powell really the “English Proust"? Reading "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" (1960), the fourth installment of his 12-part epic "Dance to the Music of Time" (1951-75), it's clear that this extended "novel" is more a series of individual sprints that an unbroken marathon. Characters reappear and time moves forward at a deliberate pace, but Powell tends to repeat his approach volume-by-volume: A virtuoso overture sets a melancholy scene, followed by roughly four dialogue-driven social se ...more
David Mcangus
Feb 13, 2013 David Mcangus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Casanova's Chinese Restaurant begins in a slow and disorientating manner. It jumps between past present while introducing new characters and refuses (like the other novels) to ease the reader into the narrative in a conventional manner. Years have passed, and while plot threads from At Lady Molly's remain. Jenkins's life has changed once again and taken a turn towards the bohemian.

In the previous entry I noticed my enjoyment of each novel was largely decided by the company that Jenkins keeps. Th
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in August 1999.

With the fifth volume of Dance to the Music of Time, Powell reaches the mid-thirties, when conversation in England was dominated by the abdication crisis and the Spanish Civil War. These events form the background to the novel, and yet these hardly concern the narrator Nick Jenkins. Casanova's Chinese Restaurant is about marriage.

Powell makes a change to the way that his characters interact for this novel. In the earlier volumes in the series,
Apr 21, 2011 Karyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book reflecting on relationships between men and women, focusing primarily on marriage, and it adopts a realistic, if slightly pessimistic, viewpoint. The restaurant itself, with its imperfect blending of disparate elements, may reflect something of how marriage is viewed, and the question is raised early in the book of whether the worst of marriages is better than none at all. The narrator is Nicholas Jenkins, remembering the past, and taking on the role of observer: it is not his own ...more
Mike Moore
Introduces a bevy of new characters, who are intimately connected with the characters we already new. Anthony's creation isn't just a small world, it's a world that dances on the head of a pin. Or rather, not dances, stands around with a cocktail and gossips. The gossip covers a range of topics, from banal trivialities to world shaping events. However, there's no access to the events themselves, not even to the point of second hand accounts. It's just chatter, sometimes informed, generally not. ...more
Geoff Wooldridge
Aug 06, 2015 Geoff Wooldridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 5 of the series A Dance To the Music of Time finds Nicholas Jenkins and his circle of friends and acquaintances in the latter part of the 1930s in England.

There is continuing talk of an impending war in Europe, and the Spanish Civil War and Franco are topics of conversations.

In fact, Nicholas' brother-in-law Erridge, a communist sympathiser, travels to Spain to become peripherally involved in the conflict.

Jenkins is now married to Isobel, who miscarries their first child, and several of his
Mar 03, 2014 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Fifth instalment of Powell's tapestry of 20th century life, but some of the threads are unravelling. This one is significantly darker in mood than the preceding offerings, with marriage problems, affairs, death, inheritance and alcoholism all to the forefront and treated with much less throwaway whimsy than before. It also seems to be set in a more defined time period with the abdication (which seems to have impaired Widmerpool's upwardly spiralling social standing) and the Spanish Civil War (to ...more
Jun 26, 2014 max rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this fifth installment of Powell’s epic, all attention turns to the arts, a topic protagonist Nick Jenkins and his creator are presumably truly passionate about. This is a nice change of pace. While the previous several novels made sport of the social high life, this novel delves into the nuances of how creative people arrange their personal and public lives. Center stage are two composers, Moreland, the up-and-comer and ladies man, and Mclintick, an embittered lesser-talent enduring a misera ...more
Jun 27, 2015 Nicola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Due to slackness on my part in getting these books out of the library on time, I missed my April reading of At Lady Molly's and had a back to back reading with this and Casanova's Chinese Restaurant. It may have been a bit of a blessing as I think I might be finally getting a grip on the main players in this work, at least I definitely felt less lost than I was with March's update. Being able to read two at once and with the prospect of #6 only a couple of weeks away I might have a good opportun ...more
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2016: A Dance to ...: {May} Casanova's Chinese Restaurant 45 31 Jul 28, 2016 09:49AM  
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Anthony Dymoke Powel CH, CBE was an English novelist best known for his twelve-volume work A Dance to the Music of Time, published between 1951 and 1975.
Powell's major work has remained in print continuously and has been the subject of TV and radio dramatisations. In 2008, The Times newspaper named Powell among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
More about Anthony Powell...

Other Books in the Series

A Dance to the Music of Time (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1)
  • A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2)
  • The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3)
  • At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4)
  • The Kindly Ones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #6)
  • The Valley of Bones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #7)
  • The Soldier's Art (A Dance to the Music of Time, #8)
  • The Military Philosophers (A Dance to the Music of Time, #9)
  • Books Do Furnish a Room (A Dance to the Music of Time, #10)
  • Temporary Kings (A Dance to the Music of Time, #11)

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“Wit, shrewdness about other aspects of life, grasp of the arts, fundamental good nature, none seemed any help in solving his emotional problems; to some extent these qualities, as displayed by him, were even a hindrance.” 1 likes
“Maclintick did not answer. He removed the cork from a bottle, the slight ‘pop’ of its emergence appearing to em-body the material of a reply to his wife, at least all the reply he intended to give.” 0 likes
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