Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time - 05)
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Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time #5)

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  284 ratings  ·  36 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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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
Lars Guthrie
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
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.
David Mcangus
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...more
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,...more
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
"Even the worst marriage is better than no marriage at all"

I can only reiterate some of the praise I have lavished previously 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...more
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
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
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.
Powell plays around with the sequence of events for the first time in the series in this volume which starts after the second world war has concluded. Very quickly though, there are flashbacks to people and places encountered during the early 1930s with the Spanish Civil War and the rise of fascism as the backdrop for events mostly with new characters.

The main theme is marriage with Nick himself finally tying the knot. However, it still frustrates me that although Jenkins has an opinion and even...more
“A future marriage, or a past one, may be investigated and explained in terms of writing by one of its parties, but it is doubtful whether an existing marriage can ever be described directly in the first person and convey a sense of reality. Even those writers who suggest some of the substance of married life best, stylise heavily, losing the subtlety of the relationship at the price of a few accurately recorded, but isolated, aspects. To think at all objectively about one’s own marriage is impo...more
Stringham, Templer, Barnby, Moreland... Jenkins's close friends dance into view - you never know for how long - then dance out again; some forever, some for a volume or two. Kingsley Amis remarked on this: we're introduced to Barnby in the 2nd or 3rd volume; you think 'Ah! Here's an important, sympathetic character. And then he's gone!'
I love Powell's erudition - paintings, music, novels - he has such a wide range of references to choose from.
At the end, before we say goodbye to Moreland: "Once,...more
Webster Bull
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,...more
This one had a slower, more disorienting start, moving back in time to introduce several old friends of Jenkins'. I'd heard that this novel was quite funny (in a review that went a long way in persuading me to start the series), but I didn't really see it until the Foxe party for Moreland, which delighted me so much that I simply had to stay up late to finish it.

Fortuitous coincidence--or seeming coincidence, I should say, because Powell has utterly masterful pacing--continues to drive the "plo...more
Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant by Anthony Powell

This is the fifth volume of A Dance to the Music of Time. There is a perceptible change of tune. First of all we have musicians in the center of the stage, the tone is different, and the atmosphere is heavier, darker. The mood is rather gloomy at times; we have dramas unfolding and less humor.

The name comes from a restaurant were protagonists talk about…Casanova, Don Juan and seduction: “seduction is to do and say the banal thing in the banal way…”

In which we realise that the thread of Widmerpool can't (or shouldn't) be sidelined lightly and that Jenkins' form of arm's-remove stiff upper lip observation doesn't sit that well with the more bohemian world that is sketched here. (I say "sketched", because apart from the despairing vision of the music critic's Pimlico flat, they all get whisked into large wealthy households for lunches and such before you can say anything to the contrary).
Yes, this 5th installment was rather less enjoyable th...more
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CASANOVA'S CHINESE RESTAURANT, the fifth novel in Anthony Powell's "A Dance to the Music of Time", makes for an unexpected twist in the sequence. Though mainly set in 1936-1937, the novel opens to a flashback to the late 1920s, when Nicholas Jenkins had recently made the acquaintance of Mr. Deacon and Barnby. A whole new cast of characters is introduced, making it shockingly apparent to the reader that Jenkins was leading another sort of life concurrently with the events of the earlier novels.

Finally got the hang of my highly personal rules to enjoying the dance to the music of time series. Like the four preceeding books in the series Nick wanders from one social gathering to another with certain characters going through change under cool observation. Along with the main character the only constant is widmerpool.

1. Not much happens and when something does happen it is ussually summarized in a throw awy line. I just needed to relax and go with the flow almost as if i was a fly on the...more
In Book #5 (in Powell's series of 12 novels) our narrator and his friends emerge from their post-graduate parties and relationships and start experiencing political, professional and personal problems. Edward VIII's abdication takes place; communism and fascism permeate the upper-class social strata of the characters; and marriages and careers lose their luster for many of the bright young things in this chronicle.

The topical concerns that define this novel and are undoubtedly one of the reason...more
Like the previous ones, this book abounds in on-the-money descriptions and subtle humor. While present in all the books, this one really seems to amp up the dealing with the more grim side of human interaction. This really begins with the visit to the Maclinticks and continues with the sudden reemergence of Stringham (although there was some hinting and build up that he would reappear). During the whole of the second half of the book I found myself wondering whether I should laugh of feel sad at...more
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
Helen Billington
I'm reading the Dance to the Music of time sequence over a year, one book per month (or thereabouts) and really enjoyed this opportunity to get to know the Tolland family, of which Jenkins is now part. The focus on musical and artistic society in the 30's against the background of the Spanish Civil war and the abdication shows how these events begin to effect everyday life and presumably casts even bigger shadows in the next book. Widmerpool only makes a brief appearance, the reader never knows...more
Definitely starting to like the series more. It's like a mini soap opera!
Dave Peticolas
Love this series.
Things actually happened!
I'm still enjoying this 12 book saga of Nicholas and his friends as they mature, marry, some divorce, and some die. Although Jenkins friends come into and go out of his life for periods of time, we are brought up to date with their lives, accomplishments and disappointments in each book as they are interwoven with that of Jenkins. Very good!
Oh, Maclintick
Still enjoying The Dance, I like the way Powell picks out a point in the character's life. These points usually occur at parties, family gatherings etc and allow the reader to catch up on the lives of others.1
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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...
A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1) A Dance to the Music of Time: 3rd Movement A Dance to the Music of Time: 2nd Movement A Dance to the Music of Time: 4th Movement

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