Webster Bull's Reviews > The Valley of Bones

The Valley of Bones by Anthony Powell
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Mar 02, 13

Read from April 05, 2012 to March 02, 2013

I have given five stars to every previous book in the series of novels, "A Dance to the Music of Time." This one gets only four, though I admire it tremendously.

World War II has started and narrator Nick Jenkins is posted to training units in Northern Ireland. As a result, with the exception of a furlough in London, and a surprise appearance at the end, none of the old familiar characters make an appearance. Instead the action concerns a collection of army mates, including the company commander Gwatkin and the truly eccentric alcoholic and perhaps homosexual Bithel.

I downgrade the book to four stars only because I have come to enjoy the reappearances of favorite characters among the 300 that the series contains, but I do admire this volume particularly because it seems to capture well the sudden dislocations and strange fellowships arising with the declaration of war, in this case World War II.

As before, "the dogs bark while the caravan rolls on." Powell's focus is the relatively insignificant individuals in the foreground, while in the background great events unfold. The book ends with one of these: after a surprise encounter (which is really not much of a surprise after seven volumes of this "Dance"), the final sentence notes that the Germans have occupied Paris.
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