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At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time #4)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  559 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
The fourth novel in Anthony Powell's brilliant twelve-novel sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 3rd 2005 by Arrow (first published 1957)
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The two year’s gap between the 3rd and 4th volume brings us to what seems a different ballroom, with different dancers, and at first I feel as if I had lost my footing. At Lady Molly’s is a different mansion. Eventually though, I realise the music is not really different. Same pace, same harmonies – just some variation in the melodies. Powell’s addictive writing and tune soon draws me into the whirls and swirls and then as some of the dancers from the previous volumes gradu
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-british, classics
The first volume of Summer, the second of four trilogies of Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time. Synopsis followed by What I Thought.

In this synopsis, I've used Hilary Spurling's brief overview of the chapters to remind me of the narrative threads in each of them; see Invitation to the Dance.

This segment of the Dance takes place in 1934. The first chapter commences on the New Year. The series’ first person narrator, Nicholas Jenkins, is now in his late twenties, working in the low-grade
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
"Woman may show some discrimination about whom they sleep with, but they will marry anybody."
― Anthony Powell, At Lady Molly's


"Marriage, as I have said, is a form of action, of violence almost; an assertion of the will. Its orbit is not to be chartered with precision, if misrepresentation and contrivance are to be avoided. Its facts can perhaps only be known by implication. It is a state from which all objectivity has been removed."
― Anthony Powell, At Lady Molly's

'At Lady Molly's' is the fourth
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth volume in the twelve novel, “Dance to the Music of Time.” The books are organised in terms of the seasons and so the first three novels are the Spring of our narrator’s life, consisting of A Question of Upbringing, A Buyer’s Market and The Acceptance World. This novel is the first in the Summer. This begins in 1934 and follows many of the characters we have already become fond of, as well as some new introductions.

The last novel, The Acceptance World, saw Nick Jenkins just emb
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
In 1934 Nick is working as a scriptwriter for the film industry. He meets a new group of people at Lady Molly's, and gets to know the Tolland family. Nick is courting Isobel Tolland, but we find out very little about their relationship.

Widmerpool shows up quite often in this fourth book of the series, and gets involved with an unusual older woman. There are many humorous events and eccentric new characters in this book. Very entertaining!
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At Lady Molly's is volume four of the A Dance to the Music of Time series and is Anthony Powell, yet again, at his best.

Once again, I cannot praise the A Dance to the Music of Time series highly enough. It's deliciously addictive and an absolute pleasure to read. Imagine, if you will, the best of Evelyn Waugh when he's dealing with a large number of disparate characters (e.g. Sword of Honour and Brideshead Revisited), and following some of your favourite characters from these books throughout t
[The following passage was discovered in 2007 in an early draft of Anthony Powell's novel At Lady Molly's. It was presented at a joint meeting of the Anthony Powell and Sigfrid Siwertz societies held earlier this month in Stockholm, where it was the occasion for considerable debate.]

I suddenly realised that the person talking with Sir Magnus was General Conyers, whom I had not seen in over a year. I scanned his face anxiously - at that age, senility can set in with terrible suddenness - but he s
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been spending too much time on photography and not enough on reading, so have taken a long time to read this. No reflection on the book at all - it's delicious. Wonderfully funny passages, as for example those involving the butler Smith. When asked whether there was any champagne:

"Smith's face puckered, as if manfully attempting to force his mind to grapple with a mathematical or philosophical problem of extraordinary complexity. His bearing suggested that he had certainly before heard th
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

'Come along, all of you,' said Molly. 'You must all see the monkey. You too, Tuffy. You simply must see him.'

People say that you can meet anybody at one of the evening parties given by Lady Molly, and Nicholas Jenkins is about to test the theorem when he gets invited by one of his new friends, Chipp Lowell:

"You can find anything at Aunt Molly's - even lovely girls. Are you coming?"
"I'd like to very much."

The monkey residing in the bedroom of the host is actually one of the least controvers
Vit Babenco
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Life jogs along, apparently in the same old way, and then suddenly your attention is drawn to some terrific change that has taken place.”
Life hardly ever turns out to be what it was expected to become…
And the narrator looks around and keeps wondering:
“So often one thinks that individuals and situations cannot be so extraordinary as they seem from outside: only to find that the truth is a thousand times odder.”
The novel At Lady Molly's mostly concerns matrimonial prospects of a social climber Ke
It took me a while to get going, but with the fourth novel I am really starting to enjoy the series. There is quite a bit of action as far as relationships go - but we are at that age in which marriages and relationships both flourish and wither. As usual, the plot does not really matter, it simply has to carry around these well constructed characters that give insight in the intellectual, economic and political elites in the interwar period. Maybe an “interlude” book, setting the stage to devel ...more
Jul 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really loved this book ! I am already into next book and I just can't stop reading Powell to write my reviews . I am to involved with his soap opera type style to quit and write a review before going on ! This is such a great selection. I will have to read Proust next to compare the difference because Powell has me hooked !
Aug 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This fourth book in the series takes place two years after the third. The narrator, Nick Jenkins, who has in the meantime written a couple of novels, is now working as a screen writer in the film industry, not a job that he particularly enjoys but a job nonetheless. The appearance of General Conyers and his family introduces a whole additional set of characters that we have not previously met, but many old faces remain. Widmerpool, for example, as one of the most persistent characters in the ser ...more
From Wiki:
This is the fourth volume in Anthony Powell's twelve novel sequence, A Dance to the Music of Time. A first person narrative, it is written in precise yet conversational prose. Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize 1957, At Lady Molly's is set in England of the mid-1930s and is essentially a comedy of manners, but in the background the rise of Hitler and of worldwide Fascism are not ignored. The comedy is character driven and ranges from the situational to the epigrammatic. Many
Nov 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
And more parties and more people meeting up and more gossip...
Glen Engel-Cox
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Glen by: Rich
At the end of the first season of Powell's "monumental" novel, A Dance to the Music of Time, I stated that each book was getting better. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy At Lady Molly's very much, and I'm going to try to pin it down. I believe the main reason is that Jenkins reverts back to his observer role, whereas he had finally become much more of an active character in the last book. Herein, everything revolves around Widmerpool's strange engagement to a woman much older than him (and much mo ...more
Jan 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
OK, I still love this series (it's gorgeously written LOL British soap opera crack) but the narrator's refusal to discuss the dramas in his own life--an affair! an engagement!--at length, blow-by-blow, instead opting for minute focus on Widmerpool or some new or hitherto obscure minor character, is positively maddening. He is as socially devious as he accuses Lady Warminster of being, always collecting gossip but never revealing more than he must to get the next crumb. This is of course not enti ...more
Lars Guthrie
May 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Widmerpool is the glue holding 'Dance to the Music of Time' together as I finish a third of the twelve volume series. He literally stumbles onto the scene in the first book, and much of 'At Lady Molly's' is devoted to his farcical engagement to an older and wilder woman. Even though I was a bit let down that Powell fast forwarded past his narrator's affair with Jean Templer, this is what the series is all about: minor characters nearly intruding into the narrative landscape and establishing a mo ...more
Aug 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, comedy
The 4th book in Powell`s a Dance to the music of time Opus. Covers the early adult phase of Jenkins and the usual suspects. For me these books require a special frame of mind, nothing much happens during the swirl of parties and dinners the main character attends. All the characters are emotionally repressed in an english bohemian upper class way which I have to assume actually existed in a particualr time period. I found it really enjoyable once I was a little zen, was able to devote substantia ...more
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The further into this series I get, the more I like it. I will probably rate the series overall as 5 stars, even though I'm giving the individual books only 4. There is something special about the complete experience that truly is a masterpiece. I'm looking forward to reading a bio of Powell to see how much of this is based on his own life.
Todd Martin
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I have no idea how I came to read At Lady Molly’s. I suspect I found it on someone’s list of best books. At any rate, it’s a 20th century British drawing room tale centered on the subject of marriage. The book is billed as a comedy, but only in the sense of aristocrats milling about making dry, and somewhat clever remarks.
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a very addictive read and lots of fun. The characters are very entertaining and it's like watching a soap opera unfold on paper. I can't wait to read the next book in order to follow what all these characters are up to.
Travelling Sunny
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is when the series really takes off!
Webster Bull
Feb 07, 2012 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,
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review contains spoilers for At Lady Molly's and later volumes of A Dance to the Music of Time.

(view spoiler)
Chris Warren
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fourth in the series and I am used to the rhythm of his prose. Very pleased there are eight more to go.
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How to describe Anthony Powell's 12-part novel "A Dance to the Music of Time" (1951-1975)? “The British ‘Remembrance of Things Past’”? To be fair, that isn't my observation, but it's a natural descriptor for this long work of historical fiction about the lives English middle-upper class youths between-the-wars and beyond.

Powell plays a long narrative game, but his unusual technique repeats itself volume by volume: Begin with a nostalgic bookend, launch into 4-5 lengthy set pieces (usually social
Oct 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
AT LADY MOLLY'S, the fourth in Anthony Powell's 12-volume sequence "A Dance to the Music of Time", is something of a step backwards after the preceding novel THE ACCEPTANCE WORLD. Though we are now in the mid-1930s when Hitler has come to power in Germany and the Soviet Union is flexing its might, Powell's characters focus more inwardly on the foibles of aristocratic dinners.

As the novel opens, narrator Nicholas Jenkins encounters the eponymous Lady Molly, whose home draws an amusing variety Eng
Simon Mcleish
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on my blog here in August 1999.

For the fourth novel in Dance to the Music of Time series, first of the second trilogy, we once again jump ahead a few years, to 1934, with the narrator Nick Jenkins now around thirty. His affair with Jean Templer over, Nick is earning a living writing scripts for cheap British films, made to allow cinemas to fulfil "the Quota". (At this time, British cinemas had to show the same number of minutes of British films to match the crowd-pulling Hol
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At Lady Molly’s by Anthony Powell

This is a wonderful, exhilarating, great book. Anthony Powell was a name unknown to me just a few years ago. Today he is one of my favorites, in my top ten favorites with Proust, Maugham, Salinger, and Faulkner…
After the first installments in this great treat: A Question of Upbringing, a Buyer’s Market and The Acceptance World, I have read and was thrilled by At Lady Molly’s. This is exquisite, refined, humorous, deep, entertaining beyond my capacity to put it i
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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)
  • 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)
  • 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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“He suddenly began to look wretched, much as I had seen him look as a schoolboy: lonely: awkward: unpopular: odd; no longer the self-confident businessman into which he had grown. His face now brought back the days when one used to watch him plodding off through the drizzle to undertake the long, solitary runs across the dismal fields beyond the sewage farms: runs which were to train him for teams in which he was never included.” 4 likes
“There is no greater sign of innate misery than a love of teasing.” 3 likes
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