2016: A Dance to the Music of Time discussion

At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4)
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Sunny (travellingsunny) | 49 comments Mod
For discussion or comments about book four...


Nigeyb 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 their lives, add in the kind of twists and turns you'd find in superior soap operas, then sprinkle liberally with the humour of someone as gifted as P.G. Wodehouse, and all written in an accessible, beautiful and lucid style.

A Dance to the Music of Time is utterly fantastic and gets better and better as the characters become more familiar.

It's now 1934 and Nick Jenkins is working as a scriptwriter and At Lady Molly's sees Nick finally embrace the adult world completely. It's the first time we encounter Nick making a proactive decision rather than passively observing what is happening around him.

At Lady Molly's also introduces us to a large number of new and diverse characters who, I'm guessing, will continue to play significant roles as the Dance progresses. The key character is the eponymous Lady Molly who, whilst she only appears in two scenes, provides the meeting places for diverse and eclectic characters to interact.

Needless to say we encounter Widmerpool once again and, as always, in many ways he is Nick's alter-ego and the star of the show. Despite having yet more ignominy heaped upon him he continues his reinvention and upward trajectory as his evolution from school boy nerd to driven and successful businessman continues.

Two tips for anyone reading the A Dance to the Music of Time series:

1. I referred to Invitation To The Dance by Hilary Spurling when I needed to remind myself who's who, and recommend it. It's a fantastic resource and a good read in its own right.

2. www.anthonypowell.org.uk has a character list, synopsis, and some excellent essays that throw light on various aspects of the book and further enrich the reading experience.

4/5

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 3: by Jonathan (last edited Mar 30, 2016 01:54PM) (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I think I'm going to start this tomorrow - a day early perhaps, but I'm in the mood for it. I've just got to try to remember all the characters and who was married to whom etc...

I think I'll keep my copy of Spurling handy.


Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 12 comments Nigybe ~ I am so excited with " dancing " ! This is such a supreme series. I love books in series anyway. I get extremely wrapped up in books I love and hate for the to end . I have the Hilary Spourling book but I have not used it much . I love the Album of The Dance to the Music of Time ! The collection of sketches and art is really a great addition . I found several on sale through Amazon at about $17.00 US dollars. This was a bargain for a brand new hardback book. In the US we call these Coffee Table books . They are so lovely we set them on out tables usually placed on the larger table in front of the sofa for serving tea or coffee and the books are often conversation pieces. Usually the books are artists, architectural structures, hometown tourists spots, photography books and what ever is lovely and large enough to catch a glimmer of attention!

I also noticed that there is a mini- series on this book series . Do you know if it is good . I am sure it will not be up to the same great quality as the books . I will tell you a little secret I ave always done since I was able to attend my first movie with my Daddy , which I believe was at age five and the movie was The Land of the Lost . Great old Science Fiction movie where people land on a planet in space and find prehistoric creatures still exist. There are dinosaurs and T- Rex , and caves , etc... My silly brother and Mama were scared so they left. My Daddy asked if I was sure I wanted to stay. I said yes of course !
More into the movie a man's arm was bitten off by a huge dinosaur . Screaming , blood and hollering was all in the theatre . Suddenly , I was in my Daddy's lap peaking through my fingers and sat that way the rest of the time. That was the start of just my Daddy and me going to the movies ! HA!


message 5: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I was a little worried that Vol.4 wouldn't be able to live up to to the heights that Vol.3 reached—but I shouldn't have worried as I'm enjoying this one just as much. It seems to be a lot more humourous than previous volumes.

I loved the description of Lady Frederica Budd:
She was dressed in a manner to be described as impregnable, like a long, neat, up-to-date battle-cruiser.
I think we can all imagine her after that description.

And I liked the description of Quiggin's attitude with people:
When Quiggin ingratiated himself with people—during his days as secretary to St. John Clarke, for example—he was far too shrewd to confine himself to mere flattery. A modicum of bullying was a pleasure both to himself and his patrons.
The episode, in chapter three, that takes place when Jenkins visits Quiggin and then 'Alf' is probably my favourite part so far. I felt all the characters were almost verging on caricatures—which I don't mind, but others may dislike. My favourite bit was when Alf asks his obstinate servant if there is any champagne in the cellar:
   'Champagne, m'lord?'
   'Have we got any? One bottle would do. Even a half-bottle.'
   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 the word 'champagne' used, if only in some distant, outlandish context; that devotion to his master alone gave him some apprehension of what this question—these ravings, almost—might mean. Nothing good could come of it. This was a disastrous way to talk. That was his unspoken message so far as champagne was concerned. After a long pause, he at last shook his head.
   'I doubt if there is any champagne left, m'lord.'



message 6: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I've also noticed that Nick seems to be getting involved a little more with events than he had previously. It had felt that he was somehow absent from much that went on.


message 7: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "The episode, in chapter three, that takes place when Jenkins visits Quiggin and then 'Alf' is probably my favourite part so far."

I've only read through that part so far and I agree. In fact, I've found any interaction of Nick's that includes Quiggin entertaining.


message 8: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments You are both ahead of me in the reading, but I do think that this book seems to flow even more smoothly than the last. I just read one of Trollope's books and am finding some of that same humor in Powell's character descriptions.


message 9: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments As I was late starting 'Dance' (not starting until Feb) I've felt as if I've been catching up all the time so it's nice to be on schedule.

I finished vol 4 last night and although it ended a bit abruptly I've really enjoyed it. Keeping track of who is related to whom is tricky but Spurling is getting some use.

I enjoyed the psychological analysis of others by Conyers. Widmerpool seems to oscillate between being a dynamic and pathetic character.


message 10: by Jonathan (last edited Apr 05, 2016 12:45PM) (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Vol 4 seems more humourous than previous volumes-or is it just me?


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments I only just started today, but in the first scene there is a young lady smoking like the chimney of an ocean liner, so I'm guessing 'Molly' will be a funny ride.


message 12: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Algernon wrote: "I only just started today, but in the first scene there is a young lady smoking like the chimney of an ocean liner, so I'm guessing 'Molly' will be a funny ride."

I think the young Mildred Blaides is the chain smoker and Molly Jeavons is the hostess - both appear throughout this volume.


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments True, I have reached now the first party at Molly, and the family gossip is wickedly delightful, even if I have to struggle sometimes to remember when did I meet trhis person or that person in a previous volume.


message 14: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I know, it's v. difficult keeping track of who's who and how they're related; Spurling is useful there. I try not to get too obsessed with though.


message 15: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "I know, it's v. difficult keeping track of who's who and how they're related; Spurling is useful there. I try not to get too obsessed with though."

I'm just reading through it and eventually I remember, or the characters tell me what I need to know.


message 16: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments That's how I'm approaching it, Teresa. I'm hoping that the major characters will imprint on me. So far that seems to be happening.


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments I does get better after the initial onslaught of new names, and the return of familiar faces in new circustances becomes even more poignant. (view spoiler)


message 18: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Yes, I'm trying not to worry about it unduly. I certainly haven't let it hinder my reading. I'm usually quite a slow reader but I've breezed through Vols. 3&4.

I love this structure whereby the characters have evolved each time we meet them and how we get to hear about them from third parties - it's similar to Proust of course but in Powell's unique style.

I liked this quote from chapte four:
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.



message 19: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Great quote, Jonathan.


message 20: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "Vol 4 seems more humourous than previous volumes-or is it just me?"

I think so too. And it certainly ends on a humorous note!


message 21: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Teresa wrote: "I think so too. And it certainly ends on a humorous note!"

I was a bit disappointed with the way it just ended on Widmerpool offering advice; it was a bit too abrupt for my liking. I can see that, by doing so, it has a certain effect but I would have preferred say, Nick reflecting on the turn of events etc.


message 22: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "I was a bit disappointed with the way it just ended on Widmerpool offering advice; it was a bit too abrupt for my liking. ..."

It worked fine for me. I'm not finding that any of these volumes work as standalones, so I like that it makes no pretense of it not being a sort of cliffhanger.


Renee M | 38 comments I'm doing these via audiobook with Simin Vance as reader. The ending was so abrupt I had to go back and review the last section. I thought I had fallen asleep again!

I actually had a hard time getting into this section. (Which may also be because I've been stretched thin at work and KEEP falling asleep as soon as I try to relax.) I only fell into the rhythm of the story/characters after I was about halfway through this section. But by the end I was ready for the next chapter... Only to have it end. I wonder where the next section will pick up. And who will show up.


message 24: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Renee wrote: "I wonder where the next section will pick up. And who will show up. ."

Perhaps we'll hear more of Nick's relationship of Isobel, though I doubt it, as we hear basically nothing of his courtship of her. Near the end, the narrator says something I found a bit of an understatement ;): For my own part, I always enjoy hearing the details of other people's lives, whether imaginary or not... He could've added, "...as well as not giving away any of mine."


Renee M | 38 comments No, we don't hear much about the courtship. I wouldn't be surprised if the engagement has evaporated by the next book. It's hard to tell.


message 26: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I was a bit disappointed with the lack of info as well. We get Nick meeting Isobel for the first time and deciding he will marry her and then the next thing we know is they're engaged...I didn't realise it was all that easy....


Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 29 comments Jonathan wrote: "Teresa wrote: "I think so too. And it certainly ends on a humorous note!"

I was a bit disappointed with the way it just ended on Widmerpool offering advice; it was a bit too abrupt for my liking. ..."


Jonathan wrote: "Vol 4 seems more humourous than previous volumes-or is it just me?"
I thought the ending was the most humorous part of the book. The thought of Widmerpool offering advice on that particular subject really tickled my funny bone.


Renee M | 38 comments Yes! And yet it's exactly what I would expect him to do. Ignore the reality and believe his own spin.


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments I liked in particular how the final joke was set up by the long psychoanalytical discussion with the old general.

I don't mind Nick being coy with the details of his own love life, the novel is more about the people around him and the way even old acquaintances have hidden depths and surprising sides to their character. Same goes for politics: Nick only mentions Hitler and local grown Nazis in passing, like an overheard conversation over lunch, but it is still very much a part of the bigger picture.


Diane Barnes I'm a little late to the party this month, as I was finishing another, longer book first, but I started reading last night and was happy to fall right back into the lives of Nick and his friends. I have noticed that a lot of the action and information imparted takes place at gatherings, teas, luncheons and weekend house parties. I love the humor, which is subtler and funnier the more you know about the characters. It feels like the reader is in on an inside joke.


Diane Barnes This is my favorite of the books so far. I have found myself waiting breathlessly for the first appearance of Widmerpool in each book, sort of like re-watching "Gone With the Wind" and waiting for that first glimpse of Rhett Butler at the bottom of the staircase. Powell always manages to surprise us with his entrance.

Some thought on finishing book 4:

Mona certainly gets around.
Nick is becoming more active in his own life, making things happen and rather enjoying playing "devil's advocate" in certain situations.
Uncle Giles was not an active character in this one, but was referred to several times by Nick, keeping him a player in the reader's mind.
I hope we learn about Nick's engagement to Isobel and how it came about. That little tidbit was just dropped on us at the end.

Two favorite quotes from Lady Molly's:

"Life is full of internal dramas, instantaneous and sensational, played to an audience of one."
"Life jogs along, apparently in the same old way, and then suddenly your attention is drawn to some terrific change that has taken place."

Each book in this series just whets my appetite for the next one.


Sunny (travellingsunny) | 49 comments Mod
Just ran into Widmerpool at Lady Molly's... HAHAHAHA! I did NOT see that one coming!


message 33: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Travelling Sunny wrote: "Just ran into Widmerpool at Lady Molly's... HAHAHAHA! I did NOT see that one coming!"

He keeps popping up when you least expect it.


Sunny (travellingsunny) | 49 comments Mod
He certainly does. My favorite so far was in a previous volume when he appeared in the window of the stairwell leading to the dungeon...


message 35: by Sunny (last edited May 10, 2016 11:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sunny (travellingsunny) | 49 comments Mod
Haven't gotten to the monkey yet... but I just read Nick's comment that the first time he saw Isobel he knew he should marry her. It just came out of the blue - so much so that I half expected Widmerpool to show up at Alf's house as well. :)

And, gosh, Nick is really determined to get under Quiggins' skin, isn't he? LOL!


Connie G (connie_g) At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4) by Anthony Powell I love the caricature of Widmerpool by Mark Boxer on the cover of this book. His face is just as I had imagined him, although I thought he might have a little more hair at his age.

I loved this book--so humorous and entertaining.


Ishita | 3 comments I am halfway through the series and I am immensely enjoying the book. I think where the series really kicked off was after the 3rd book, The Acceptance World and so far, I think I like At Lady Molly's the best. Of course it is still a bit too soon to tell but so far, yes.

What I love about the series and Powell is that he doesn't make the story seem like a story. And unlike a few other series that I've read this actually feels like I'm an actual witness to someone else's life as it goes on rather than a mere reader of someone's journals. The books don't tire you and they're quick reads because of that very quality.

However, so far I cannot say I have any particular feelings about Jenkins. I don't know how to explain it but I'm kind of neutral about him. And it is kind of difficult to keep track of every character that appear in this book and the connections between them. I think I've already read more references, accounts and mentions of relations in the 50% that I've read than in any other books! And for some reason, Wimberpool intrigues me. I'm always curious about where will we meet him again and what's gonna happen to him next.


message 38: by Nigeyb (last edited May 24, 2016 03:02AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nigeyb Ishita wrote: "I am halfway through the series and I am immensely enjoying the book. I think where the series really kicked off was after the 3rd book, The Acceptance World and so far, I think I like At Lady Molly's the best. Of course it is still a bit too soon to tell but so far, yes."

I'd agree with that assessment. I'd also add, in my opinion, the best is yet to come....

The three books which cover the World War 2 years, The Valley of Bones (1964), The Soldier's Art (1966), & The Military Philosophers (1968) are right up there with Sword of Honour by Evelyn Waugh - there is, as you probably realise, no higher accolade.

What a series!


Izunia | 2 comments I'm a bit behind, but catching up! I've just finished part 4, and I was wondering do we learn later in the series what happened between Nick and Jean? The narrator didn't give much away except that it was painful to him.


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments The relationship is re-examined in book six "The Kindly Ones", but I don't want to spoil it for you. It's best to find out at the pace Nick is telling the story.


Izunia | 2 comments I was just wondering whether it will be explained. Thank you, Algernon!


message 42: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) Finally started the audiobook.


message 43: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I just finished the Lady Molly's section of my audiobook.

This was the most light-hearted section so far. I really enjoyed this one. When I imagine Jenkins, I most of the time think Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder.

I am beginning to wonder if Widmerpool and Jenkins aren't the core of the books.

I really enjoyed the characters of the butler as well as Molly's husband. However, I did find the transfer between chapters 4 and 5 a bit jarring.

Perhaps the author is good at representing British upper class society and the changes in society as well, but no good at describing interpersonal relationships. So far, it is like we are seeing things at a distance. Even Jenkins, who ostensibly is viewing it and narrating it, is at a distance.


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments Kirsten *Don't Blame Me I Voted for Hillary" wrote: "I just finished the Lady Molly's section of my audiobook.

This was the most light-hearted section so far. I really enjoyed this one. When I imagine Jenkins, I most of the time think Jeremy Irons a..."


I think you are correct about the distance, I and also about the humour, but things are about to get personal once the war started, and Widmerpool will continue to surprise you.

Enjoy the ride!


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