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Books Do Furnish a Room

(A Dance to the Music of Time #10)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  605 ratings  ·  87 reviews
'He is, as Proust was before him, the great literary chronicler of his culture in his time.' GUARDIANA Dance to the Music of Time is universally acknowledged as one of the great works of English literature. Reissued now in this definitive edition, it stands ready to delight and entrance a new generation of readers.

In this sixth volume, with Br
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 15th 1971 by William Heinemann Ltd
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Elaine I am just starting this book. I have read the previous 9 books in this series. I do think that the books should be read in order. There are so many ch…moreI am just starting this book. I have read the previous 9 books in this series. I do think that the books should be read in order. There are so many characters and they are randomly brought up in various volumes. I think it would be confusing to read without the past history of Nick and his life, family and friends. The story follows the same main characters throughout the first half of 20th Century in England. (less)

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Vit Babenco
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The war is over and those who survived try to readjust to peace…
Books Do Furnish a Room turns around literature and books… And, of course, it turns around writers.
A novelist writes what he is. That’s equally true of mediaeval romances or journeys to the moon. If he put down on paper the considerations usually suggested, he wouldn’t be a novelist – or rather he’d be one of the fifty-thousand tenth-rate ones who crawl the literary scene.

But first of all the writers are human beings – they have the
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

Nick Jenkins has the postwar blues. He finds himself after demobilisation adrift in a city dominated by ruined, abandoned houses, reflecting an inner emptiness that somehow has to be filled with something. The title suggests books as a solution, art in general. The actual source of the quote in the text is slightly different, with more of a sexual connotation, a subtle reminder that we also need a sense of humour, especially in troubled times. Borage ("an excellent spirit to repress the fuligino
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
"Imagination must, of course, select and arrange reality, but it must be for imaginative ends: all too often the role of imagination in this sequence is to funny-up events and people whose only significance . . . is that Powell has experienced them."
- Philip Larkins, in a review of 'Books Do Furnish a Room'


Anthony Powell's 10th book in his 'Dance to the Music of Time' cycle starts with a discussion of Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy* and this book (and themes of melancholy and love)
Diane Barnes
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
The years immediately after the war are full of changes for the ones who survived, and a new generation is in the wings. England must have been a sad, gloomy place at that time, with little work to be had, and destruction all over London. This is #10 in the 12 volume series.
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Books Do Furnish a Room (1971) is the tenth of Anthony Powell's twelve-novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time

Books Do Furnish a Room follows straight on from the preceding trio of war volumes (The Valley of Bones (1964), The Soldier's Art (1966), and The Military Philosophers (1968)) and takes place in the immediate post-war period of 1946 and 1947. It is strange, and informative, to read an evocation of the atmosphere of post-war austerity in England, a period that doesn't appear to featur
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing

In the new year, without further compromise, Dickensian winter set in. Snow fell, east winds blew, pipes froze, the water main (located next door in a house bombed out and long deserted) passed beyond insulation or control. the public supply of electricity broke down. Baths became a fabled luxury of the past.

or, if you prefer,

Takes place: winter 45-46 to late autumn ‘47.
Somewhere in here Nick Jenkins has probably entered his fifth decade.
Book published: 1971. Anthony Powell was 65 years o
Katie Lumsden
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this, especially the strong characterisation, the bookish themes and explorations of the late 1940s publishing industry.
Connie G
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Post-war London is bleak with buildings reduced to rubble from the bombings, and people feeling the loss of good friends who died in the war. Nick Jenkins is returning to civilian work writing a book, and reviewing books for a left-wing magazine. He's working for a new publishing company where we are reacquainted with literary types from previous books, and introduced to the novelist X. Trapnel.

Kenneth Widmerpool, a MP, writes economic and political articles for the magazine. Femme fatale Pamela
Nov 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great stuff once again. The Dance continues as peace returns following World War II. Many of the same players appear once again, and a few new ones are introduced to keep things lively. The formidable Pamela makes a number of appearances, and I treasured a wonderful phrase that summed her up, when Nick referred to "Pamela's gladiatorial sex life during the war."

Sadly, only two more books remain to be read, but they must wait for a couple of weeks.
As we get older, our stories increasingly become, not about us, but about other people. Here, in the first volume of Winter, Nick begins his transformation into Someone Who Knew X. Trapnel Personally. He hasn't yet seen that this is happening; the realization will dawn on him over the final two books. He doesn't really mind. He's amused by Trapnel, but can't take him very seriously.

Few authors have been able to paint such a subtle, nuanced, detached picture of what happens as life fades away.

Tom Ewing
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most enjoyable and - after some initial feints - straightforward novels in Powell's sequence, Books Do Furnish A Room keeps a tight focus on the literary world of post-war London, its arc defined by the brief life of left-wing magazine Fission, which the narrator (no great sympathiser) works for as its reviews editor. Fission's most notable contributors are the ever-present Widmerpool, now an MP contributing unreadable articles on economics; and the talented but impecunious novelist X ...more
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another good read in the 'A Dance to the Music of Time' series where narrator, Nick, writes about the book publishing business in London during 1946 - 1947. Nick is writing a biography and works for a small publishing business that publishes a magazine/newsletter called 'Fission'. We learn more about Kenneth Widmerpool, now a politician, and his beautiful and abrasive wife, Pamela Flitton. There is a funny scene where Pamela vomits into an expensive and rather large antique vase. There are a cou ...more
Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Books Do Furnish a Room by Anthony Powell

The Second World War is over by the time we enter the world of this tenth novel of A Dance to the Music of Time. When you start a “series „which will go on for twelve installments you wonder if the author will keep up with the intrigue, the suspense or if the plot will lose intensity and you will eventually get bored. At least I did. And there have been some moments when I was reading novel number six, I guess, when it seemed that interest was not at the
Oct 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I feel books should come with careful handling instructions. For example only read hemmingway after two shots of rum. The ideal way to read the books in A Dance to the Music of Time would be to retreat to a cottage, equip oneself with an ever replenishing cup of tea and some sort of exhaustive reference work which would have every character in the book and spend the next month reading every single one in series.

In the absence of such preparation I instead go through the same familiar s
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was another good read from A Dance To The Music of Time. The tenth volume, Books Do Furnish a Room (1971), finds Nick Jenkins and his circle beginning to re-establish their lives and careers in the wake of the war. Nick dives into work on a study of Robert Burton; Widmerpool grapples with the increasingly difficult and cruel Pamela Flitton—now his wife; and we are introduced to the series’ next great character, the dissolute Bohemian novelist X. Trapnel, a man who exudes in equal measure my ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1st-person, 2014
The title comes from a possibly apocryphal saying ascribed to a rather sodden career journalist who we haven't seen before this book (which is no. 10 of 12). In this not-quite roman a clef cycle, we can't be sure if it was a real-life quote or not. We are now in rationing-era London. Maida Vale is a dump; the pubs are draughty and often empty. The journalist is a red herring; the real new character followed here is the shambolic but talented writer X. Trapnel, based on Julian McLaren-Ross, whom ...more

Pre-war characters reappear, and a younger generation spearheaded by Pamela Flitton take the lead in the narrative. Some of Nick's contemporaries are seen to have become middle-aged and staid, others more radical.

A change in the political tide is conveyed with some satirical fun at the expense of the more doctrinaire figures. The introduction of the bohemian Trapnel moves the centre of gravity towards literature, with a discussion of naturalism in the novel recurring.

4* A Question of Upbringing
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Books Do Furnish a Room, is the first book in the last movement of Anthony Powell’s twelve novel sequence, the tenth book overall. As we enter the dance’s winter movement; Nick Jenkins is now a middle aged man. In this fabulously titled novel, Anthony Powell explores the literary world of the mid to late 1940’s.

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This book, volume 10, finds Jenkins at University doing research on Anatomy of Melancholy. He meets with Sillery and Short and learns that Quiggins and Cragg are starting a publishing company. There is a funeral for Effridge. This book spends a great deal of time on Pamela Flitton Widmerpool who has simply atrocious manners. X or Trapnel has a big part too. Trapnel is a man who drinks and does "pills". He borrows money and doesn't seem to make any.
Nov 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Book #10, supposed to be read in October but, surprise surprise, I missed and ended up reading it at the end of November.

It was a relief to be through the war novels which I found increasingly tedious. Whether it was my perception due to the contrast with the previous few books or a deliberate attempt by Powell, I found this a much more light hearted read as well.
Mario Hinksman
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Empson once wrote that contraception had really taken the sting out of adultery. Publishers can equally say that cloud based computing has taken the sting out of taking care author typescripts, when there might conceivably be only one, hand written copy...
Powell picks up the thread of his epic journey in a bomb damaged, rather dour London. Nick Jenkins is engaged working for a publishing start-up at a time when even the supply of paper to print on can't be guaranteed. The results are rich in hum
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-original
Widmerpool becomes almost sympathetic, compared with some of the absurd characters dominating this installment.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good depictions of post war London. Mostly concerned with the publishing business. Lacking some of the appeal of the pre war volumes.
Nov 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
In this, the tenth and antepenultimate novel in Powell’s magnificent series, “A Dance to the Music of Time,” the narrator, Nick Jenkins, has returned to his writing life after the end of World War II, re-encountering old acquaintances at the University, people who have changed considerably. He comments about “the relatively high proportion of persons known pretty well at an earlier stage of life, both here and elsewhere, now dead, gone off their rocker, withdrawn into states of existence they - ...more
Glen Engel-Cox
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Glen by: Rich
Shelves: amazon
I'm into the home stretch of Powell's Top 100 Modern novel series (in a sense, like Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," this series by Powell is a meta-novel; unlike Tolkien, however, Powell was the one to split his sections into separate books), and it is gaining momentum, mainly because of the inertia gained from having placed this much of a time investment into the series. The title of this novel has to be my favorite, and the anecdote within the book from which it comes is quite amusing--a ch ...more
People try to rebuild their lives after WW2, turning to books, love, power to dispel their melancholy.
Lars Guthrie
Oct 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Number ten in the twelve-volume 'Dance to the Music of Time.' As I approach the end, I feel relief and accomplishment, as well as regret. In 'Books Do Furnish a Room,' World War II is finally over, and to this reader it feels like a weight has been lifted off Powell, as his narrator, Jenkins, can now return to old haunts and those friends and acquaintances who are still alive. This despite a London suffering through an economically depressed post-war funk. The major new character here, X. Trapne ...more
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
BOOKS DO FURNISH A ROOM is the tenth novel of Anthony Powell's long sequence "A Dance to the Music of Time". It opens in the winter of 1945/46 as Britain settles back into peacetime, though not without annoying rationing and shortages. Jenkins has come to his old university for research towards a biography on Robert Burton, but soon first himself involved in the launch of a new literary magazine with distinct leftist tones. Indeed, we return to a world of shady politics left behind in the early ...more
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Anthony Dymoke Powell 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".

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)
  • Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time, #5)
  • 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)
  • Temporary Kings (A Dance to the Music of Time, #11)

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“Trapnel wanted, among other things, to be a writer, a dandy, a lover, a comrade, an eccentric, a sage, a virtuoso, a good chap, a man of honour, a hard case, a spendthrift, an opportunist, a raisonneur; to be very rich, to be very poor, to possess a thousand mistresses, to win the heart of one love to whom he was ever faithful, to be on the best of terms with all men, to avenge savagely the lightest affront, to live to a hundred full of years and honour, to die young and unknown but recognized the following day as the most neglected genius of the age. Each of these ambitions had something to recommend it from one angle or another, with the possible exception of being poor - the only aim Trapnel achieved with unqualified mastery - and even being poor, as Trapnel himself asserted, gave the right to speak categorically when poverty was discussed by people like Evadne Clapham.” 6 likes
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