Lars Guthrie's Reviews > Books Do Furnish a Room

Books Do Furnish a Room by Anthony Powell
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's review
Oct 10, 2009

really liked it
Read in October, 2009

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. Trapnel, an outlandish 'naturalistic' author, makes for far more engagement than the parade of military men marching through the past couple of volumes. Also the vampiric Pamela Wimerpool (nee Flitton) is allowed to take up a bit more of the stage. We don't learn as much about her as about what she does to men, though--mainly Widmerpool and Trapnel. As I near the end of the work, I am more and more interested in what is not in Powell's novels, and women are not really always there, but often inhabit a mysterious parallel world. Pamela seems to be the ultimate Mata Hari figure. Nick Jenkins's rather witty wife, who rarely appears, seems to be the sole example of a practical and down-to-earth woman. And that brings up the fact that Jenkins himself is rather a cipher. In 'Books,' his family grows by one but we don't learn much more about them than a daughter's sickness preventing his wife from attending a party, and 'some arrangement about a son going to school' allowing for another random encounter with the irrepressible Widmerpool (who is the glue that holds 'Dance' together). We learn more about the subject of the book Jenkins is working on, Robert Burton, author of 'The Anatomy of Melancholy' (a very interesting subject, to be certain) than the members of his immediate family. Two to go.
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02/20/2017 marked as: read

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