2016: A Dance to the Music of Time discussion

Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time, #5)
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Sunny (travellingsunny) | 49 comments Mod
For discussion or comments about book five...


Renee M | 38 comments I may need to start this early. I felt as though I'd just gotten up a momentum when At Lady Molly's came to an end. I might just let it carry on through Cassanova and see how far it takes me.


message 3: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Renee wrote: "I may need to start this early. I felt as though I'd just gotten up a momentum when At Lady Molly's came to an end. I might just let it carry on through Cassanova and see how far it takes me."

I was tempted to continue as well as I found At Lady Molly's so much fun....but I resisted...:-)


Nigeyb I raced through the series after getting through the first movement - it became more and more compelling


message 5: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Nigeyb wrote: "I raced through the series after getting through the first movement - it became more and more compelling"

I can see why. Vols 3 & 4 have been brilliant.


Sunny (travellingsunny) | 49 comments Mod
This is encouraging. I'm still on book 2... struggling to make a connection.


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments I am saving this one for next month. I like the idea of following the seasons, and ending the story on Nick in December. Having said that, the title may be my favorite so far. What would Casanova order from the Chinese menu?


message 8: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I started reading this one yesterday; a little head of schedule, I know, but the timing was right for me. Enjoying it so far.


Diane Barnes I got an early start too, and hope to finish today. I am loving the way these books are evolving, and like the others, (and like real life) there are a few surprises in this one.


message 10: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Hmm, perhaps I will begin this afternoon.


Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 29 comments I started yesterday as well. I finished the first chapter. A large group of new characters has emerged.


Nigeyb What I said straight after I'd finished it...


"Even the worst marriage is better than no marriage at all"

I can only reiterate some of the praise I have previously lavished on this series - it's pure pleasure. The writing is some of the best I have ever read.

In "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" (Vol 5) we've reached the mid-1930s, the backdrop includes the Abdication crisis and the Spanish Civil War. These seismic events, and the storm clouds gathering over Europe, are of only tangential concern to our narrator Nick Jenkins and his companions: marriage and relationships are at the heart of "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant".

Before we get into the issue of marriage, Anthony Powell takes us back to the late 1920s from a vantage somewhere after World War 1. It's an unsettling introduction, but an important one, as the reader is introduced to a new group of Nick's friends and acquaintances, including composer Hugh Moreland who it transpires is probably his best friend.

Widmerpool, sadly, makes only a cameo appearance and Templar doesn't appear at all, however Stringham makes a dramatic return at a party for Moreland given by Stringham's mother Mrs Foxe in the novel's most memorable scene.

"Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" abounds with adult themes - marriage, depression and alcoholism - and it all feels a far cry from the school days that started the A Dance To The Music of Time books. That said, there is still much subtle humour and some wonderful new plot twists.

As I state at the outset, this series is a delight. I look forward to continuing the series with "The Kindly Ones" (Vol 6).

4/5


Diane Barnes Nigeyb, you hit precisely on all the most important points in this section. I do find it interesting that Nick makes no comment at all on his own marriage, but he and Isobel seem to be compatible and happy in their scenes together.


message 14: by Jonathan (last edited May 01, 2016 10:45AM) (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Although it was slightly confusing at first, I liked the way this volume started where we're introduced to a whole new group of people. And then in chapter two we're inundated with Tollands. Powell does an astounding job of sketching out each character so that they're uniquely identifiable.

As much as I like the character Widmerpool, I don't miss him too much as there are enough interesting characters to keep me amused. Erridge has been my favourite in recent volumes so I hope he doesn't get killed in Spain.


message 15: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments 'Have you developed undesirable habits since we last met?'

That quote tickled me.


message 16: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Meet the Maclinticks, my new favourite characters, especially Mrs Maclintick. They should have their own novel.
However much one hears about individuals, the picture formed in the mind rarely approximates to the reality. So it was with Mrs Maclintick. I was not prepared for her in the flesh. When she opened the door to us, her formidable discontent with life swept across the threshold in scorching, blasting waves.
And this quote:
Mrs Maclintick's dissatisfaction with life had probably reached so advanced a stage that she was unable to approach any new event amiably, even when proffered temporary alleviation of her own chronic spleen.



message 17: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Wonderful quotes Jonathan. Powell knew how to paint a character so well, especially caustically.


message 18: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I love this way of introducing characters. It allows us to form a picture in our mind instantly but it doesn't prevent the author from adding or changing our opinion of the character later on. I read Bleak House prior to 'Dance' and Dickens did exactly the same thing.


Diane Barnes And once again, Widmerpool's one appearance in this section was a complete surprise. Powell does that every time. And once again, Uncle Giles is recalled to Nick's mind in some way, without actually making any appearance at all.


message 20: by Sue (last edited May 02, 2016 12:12PM) (new)

Sue | 85 comments It's both confusing (at times) and intriguing, how Powell takes one step back to take his two steps forward. I was surprised to see Deacon back again as I began reading!


Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 29 comments Diane wrote: "And once again, Widmerpool's one appearance in this section was a complete surprise. Powell does that every time. And once again, Uncle Giles is recalled to Nick's mind in some way, without actuall..."
And what other ailment would you expect Widmerpool to have. Boils are perfect for his character.


message 22: by Teresa (last edited May 04, 2016 10:45AM) (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "As much as I like the character Widmerpool, I don't miss him too much as there are enough interesting characters to keep me amused."

Though his one scene was effective, I was fine with the one scene. In fact, this volume has been my favorite so far.

I agree with Nigeyb that Moreland seems to be Nick's best friend. The wonderful last sentence of this installment seems to affirm that; and that they will continue on this scary, bumpy road together.


Diane Barnes The layers keep building, making each volume better than the one before. Marriage was certainly under the microscope in this one, between Moreland and Maclintick and their wives. I find it curious than Nick's wife Isobel is mentioned very rarely, in fact, it was several chapters in til we found out why she was in the nursing home. And was this the first time we heard that Barnby ' s first name was Ralph?


message 24: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments You're right Diane, marriage does seem to be the main theme in this volume. I actually find it a bit annoying that Powell is so coy about revealing much about Jenkins.

It's a shame that we won't meet the Maclinticks again but it looks like Stringham will appear again. The party scene with him was brilliant.


message 25: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Diane wrote: "The layers keep building, making each volume better than the one before. ... I find it curious than Nick's wife Isobel is mentioned very rarely"

True about the layers, Diane. I also liked this one best so far because of the manipulation of time in the narration (not something we've seen in previous volumes) and its increasing darkness.

I wasn't surprised we heard so little of Nick's wife; it fits with his circumspection about himself. In fact, I was kind of surprised we got as much of her as we did.


message 26: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "It's a shame that we won't meet the Maclinticks again but it looks like Stringham will appear again."

It's possible Mrs. Maclintick will reappear... Especially if we hear more of Carolo in later volumes.


message 27: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Teresa wrote: "Diane wrote: "The layers keep building, making each volume better than the one before. ... I find it curious than Nick's wife Isobel is mentioned very rarely"

True about the layers, Diane. I also ..."


I loved the description of his mother in law, Lady Warminster, as an elegant bird, "perhaps a bird of prey."

And the manipulation of time did distract me for a while during the first chapter. And then I encountered the discussion of Time and Space while the group was at the restaurant. I'm wondering if this will be a recurring theme.
I'm in the second chapter now and feeling more oriented. Powell is performing some narrative tricks here!


message 28: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments I just read the description of Spain given when Nick and Robert are discussing Erridge's plan to travel to Spain in support of the Revolution. The words are so evocative of Picasso's Guernica. So impressive.


Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 29 comments This book certainly touched much darker material than the previous four.


message 30: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Teresa wrote: "It's possible Mrs. Maclintick will reappear... Especially if we hear more of Carolo in later volumes. "

I hope so, though she probably won't be exuding waves of discontent.


message 31: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Janet wrote: "This book certainly touched much darker material than the previous four."

I agree. The whole feel of the book has taken a darker turn. The looming world war is casting its shadow over their lives.


message 32: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "I hope so, though she probably won't be exuding waves of discontent."

I could be wrong of course, but she strikes me as someone who wouldn't stay content for long, no matter whom she's with.


Renee M | 38 comments Much darker. But also indicative both of the times and the way life seems to break itself not sections. Each one has a flurry of events that many of your contemporaries are dealing with at the same time as you. Only we're usually so caught up in dealing that we don't get to step back and analyze our own life story. It's one of ye things which makes this series fascinating. It's both foreign and familiar. Even if the times, places, social interactions differ from our own, there's a connection.


Renee M | 38 comments I liked the way this particular book was structured. The way it came full circle. I wonder if that was intentional on a symbolic way nor if it's just a growth (or departure) in style.


message 35: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Renee wrote: "I liked the way this particular book was structured. The way it came full circle. I wonder if that was intentional on a symbolic way nor if it's just a growth (or departure) in style."

That was one of my favorite things about this book. I wonder too if subsequent volumes may use the same structure or if it's is a one-off.


Sunny (travellingsunny) | 49 comments Mod
Hello group! I need to test my memory of events to date. I'm still reading chapter 1 of this volume,

Moreland commented "Wasn't there talk of Mrs. Andriadis helping [Carolo] ?" and then a short digression of thought by Nick about coming to feel that when people gossiped about matters like Carolo and his girl, one was listinging to a morsel, if only an infinitesimal morsel, of one's own life.

My question is about the quarrel at Mrs. Andriadis' house that took place in one of the earlier volumes. Have we (as the reader) have been enlightened about the reason for the argument? I believe it was between Mrs. Andriadis, Mr. Deacon, and - my memory is vague here - I think, one of the performers that evening.

For some reason, I can't remember having ever found out what that argument was about. And, if we haven't been told, I'm starting to think the argument will be made clear at some point later in the story as something we wouldn't have quite grasped until after all of these back stories have been fleshed out.

Am I completely off my rocker here?


message 37: by Jonathan (last edited May 16, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Travelling Sunny wrote: "Hello group! I need to test my memory of events to date. I'm still reading chapter 1 of this volume,

Moreland commented "Wasn't there talk of Mrs. Andriadis helping [Carolo] ?" and then a short d..."


I don't think that the reason for the argument has been resolved and who knows, maybe it won't be made clear at all. Unless I've missed a bit as well.

It's difficult keeping track of all the characters, especially when reading off and on as we are. I've had a look at Spurling which states:
[Mrs Andriadis] Gives the party on the night of the Huntercombes' ball which culminates in her quarrelling with Stringham and ordering Mr Deacon onto the street.
Mr Deacon was arguing with Max Pilgrim, I believe.

BTW the last chapter is brilliant. I'll be interested to know what you make of it.

I was going to re-read parts of this volume (especially the first section) before we get to the next one but haven't got round to it yet.


Sunny (travellingsunny) | 49 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "The layers keep building, making each volume better than the one before. Marriage was certainly under the microscope in this one, between Moreland and Maclintick and their wives. I find it curious ..."

I am reading chapter 2, and was just getting ready to ask the group why Isobel is in a nursing home. Glad you posted that it'll be a few chapters... :)


message 39: by Algernon (Darth Anyan) (last edited May 20, 2016 11:24AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments I finished the book and came here to finally read some comments.
I loved it, even if the general tone is the opposite of the merriment from Lady Molly.
In particular I liked how the story of marriage is craddled between two powerful images / metaphors : the ruined pub at the beginning with "Ladies" written on the only standing door, and the "House of Terror" rollercoaster ride at the end.
The structure makes me believe Powell leaves nothing to chance and every step of the Dance is carefully coreographed.


message 40: by Dawn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 12 comments Hey y'all ~ forgive me ! I am not ignoring anyone and I am still here, but I am trailing a book behind ! I will catch up soon . I do love the Dance !!!

Dawn


Renee M | 38 comments Powell definitely keeps us on our toes with flashbacks and a rather liquid-slow meandering of time. I never know when I'll be in the stream of Nick's life when I start the next volume. But somehow it all moves us forward eventually. With a better understanding of the characters involved.


message 42: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments It never seems slow to me. I view the flashbacks with pleasure as we find out more about the characters. I think this book was one of my favourites. :-)


message 43: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I am determined to finish this series. I just started Casanova. Sometimes, I feel as if their is a huge chasm between books. I felt a little disoriented when this one starts.


message 44: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Kirsten *Don't Be A Grinch* wrote: "I am determined to finish this series. I just started Casanova. Sometimes, I feel as if their is a huge chasm between books. I felt a little disoriented when this one starts."

Some of the books seem to flow more organically from the one before but, by the end, I think (and hope) you will see that they all flow together. I didn't find all the books equally strong but found the whole to be excellent and 2 of the last 3 among the best of all.


message 45: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Kirsten *Don't Be A Grinch* wrote: "I felt a little disoriented when this one starts."

I remember feeling disoriented at the start of several of the volumes. Perhaps part of Powell's plan? As Sue says, it all comes together -- both with each volume and with the series as a whole.


Diane Barnes Casanova was one of my favorites. A lot happens in this one that has far-reaching consequences.


Brooklyn (brooklynjoe) | 1 comments I loved this volume - my second go round with the series and if possible loving it even more. One thought I had - was how Matilda and Isobel both lost babies (Matilda after birth - and Isobel had a miscarriage) - and how cavalierly Powell deals with what would have been a devastating event in the mother's lives. Matilda does seem a bit more affected - though Nick & Isobel are ciphers as others have mentioned. I wonder if this is because child death at birth was more common at that time?

I loved Widmerpool's iconic appearance (with boils) - and mysterious pronouncement of some possible royal connection for him?

Loved the Stringham scene - very powerful. The party at Mrs Foxe's and the dinner at the MacLintocks are quite well written as well.

I am reading the last section now - I read one - sometimes two volumes at a time between new books. I find Powell works best for me a little at a time - to appreciate the writing and take in all the details.


message 48: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments I can feel your enjoyment in your note. Don’t know if I will get to read this a second time given the many books I want to read for a first time. But I do remember enjoying the experience of reading this series.


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