2016: A Dance to the Music of Time discussion

The Valley of Bones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #7)
This topic is about The Valley of Bones
19 views
3rd Movement > {July} The Valley of Bones

Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Sunny (new) - added it

Sunny (travellingsunny) | 49 comments Mod
For discussion or comments about book seven...


message 2: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I wasn't sure what to expect with this volume, what with the war starting, but there was no need to worry as it's just as good.

The ragging of Bithel and his strange dance made me laugh—I'll look forward to seeing that on the TV version when I watch it!

I hadn't realised the importance that the British army placed on porridge during WWII. 'Do you like porridge?'

There is mention of Saint-Loup, from Proust's ISOLT, in regards to the wearing of Bithel's cap—I think this is the first mention of Proust.

I was a bit confused as to where Jenkins was in this volume but it looks like he joined his regiment in Wales and then in chapter two they go to Northern Ireland; this is where Spurling's book is handy.

Has anyone else started?


message 3: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments I've read ch one...Bithel's dance was quite an episode. Just beginning the 2nd chapter now, with the move about to begin. As you say, the writing is excellent with the description of the individual soldier - really memorable.


message 4: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Sue wrote: "I've read ch one...Bithel's dance was quite an episode. Just beginning the 2nd chapter now, with the move about to begin. As you say, the writing is excellent with the description of the individual..."

I'm not sure if this will mean anything to non-UK readers but I just keep thinking of Jenkins as similar to John Le Mesurier's character in Dad's Army. Jenkins doesn't seem suited to army life.


message 5: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments I'm not familiar with that character but I do agree about Jenkins and the military. He seems to have a wish to belong to some idea of a military that doesn't really exist, to fight in a war that isn't a real war.


Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 29 comments I do find that even though these new characters are very good, I am missing our old friends from previous volumes.


message 7: by Nigeyb (last edited Jul 03, 2016 11:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nigeyb Another Powellian delight


The Valley of Bones is Volume 7 of "A Dance to the Music of Time" and is yet another great instalment in this wonderful 12 novel series.

I am now finding it harder and harder to read other books as I work my way through the "A Dance to the Music of Time" novels. Indeed I have now concluded that this effort of will is beyond me and, as far as possible, I am going to exclusively read this series until that sad day arrives when I turn the last page of Volume 12.

The Valley of Bones begins in Wales. It's early 1940, the beginning of World War 2, and narrator Nick Jenkins, having secured a full time role in the army, is with his new platoon. This development heralds the introduction a host of new characters. Indeed, with the exception of a weekend's leave, where we catch up with various members of the Tolland family, and a few other familiar older characters, the entire book is about Nick's new army world.

I noticed many parallels with Evelyn Waugh's splendid "Sword of Honour" in particular the tedium, the mix of eclectic and disparate characters having to live in close proximity, and the self-delusion and vanity which accompanied some of the nascent military careers at the onset of war. The most notable character, amongst a host of great cameos, is Captain Gwatkin whose dreams of personal and military ambition are thwarted in a cruel black comedy.

There is one person who is curiously absent from this book, excepting for a few oblique references, however as the book closes there he is in all his idiosyncratic glory - Kenneth Widermpool.

So, onwards and upwards as I move on to The Soldier's Art ("A Dance to the Music of Time" Volume 8) which I eagerly anticipate.

4/5


Diane Barnes I am enjoying this series immensely, but I think reading one a month is contributing to that enjoyment for me, rather than dropping everything else to read this exclusively. I like looking forward to each month's installment. I haven't started "Valley of Bones" yet, but hope to in a couple of days.


message 9: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I don't necessarily miss the old characters as I'm enjoying all the new characters but it is interesting to see an 'old friend' pop up. Although I like Widmerpool as a character I don't think the book suffers when he's not in it.


message 10: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I agree Diane, I like reading it to a schedule. I did the same with Proust and found that it was the best way to read it as well.


message 11: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments I am also enjoying reading Powell on our schedule. This actually adds to my level of anticipation (and sometimes gives a needed break from other reading).

As for all the new characters, this is certainly how life would have been during war. Signing up and leaving the old life behind. Life becomes less predictable even for the characters we enjoy.


message 12: by Sue (last edited Jul 06, 2016 11:49PM) (new)

Sue | 85 comments I've enjoyed the weekend interlude while Nick was on his brief leave. A mixture of old and new characters, old and new stories.


Diane Barnes I enjoyed that interlude too. It was a great way to catch us up on what had been going on. Does anyone know if Powell had this whole series mapped out from the very beginning, or if he decided where to go as he wrote each book? I think it's brilliant the way he circles around to people and places mentioned earlier. As with remembering Penniston from Mrs. Andriada's party.


message 14: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I have also wondered to what extent Powell had the series mapped out at the beginning. I think I asked the question in an earlier post but I'm not sure that anyone was sure. I'd like to find out but may wait until I've finished before digging around.


Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 29 comments Diane wrote: "I enjoyed that interlude too. It was a great way to catch us up on what had been going on. Does anyone know if Powell had this whole series mapped out from the very beginning, or if he decided wher..."

I agree with you Diane. Once he left his unit to go to Aldershot it was like he had mapped out everything. His conversation with Jimmy Brent was like being given a Christmas present tied up with a bow. So many loose ends became clear.


message 16: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments And the son is born...so new little Jenkins will be in future books too, after the war. It is funny how dispassionate Nick is in dealing with his own personal life and Isobel while delving so deeply into everyone else's lives. Is this Powell protecting his own life (if parts are autobiographical) vs Nick being self-protective or somewhat a cold fish. [I don't really see him as a cold fish but put that in for arguments sake]


Diane Barnes Remember that Nick is a writer, so his role as an observer comes naturally to him. Neither he nor Isobel appear to give in to the drama of any situation, merely discuss it between themselves.


message 18: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Ah yes! thanks for the reminder, Diane. Nick is a professional observer on some level. (Odo was a bit different, wasn't he, as a self-styled journalist).


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments I have been on vacation, so I didn't follow the discussion, but I did manage to finish book seven and I liked it just as much as the previous ones, especially for the ability to switch the mood from the artistic life in London and the concerns of high society couples to the tedious routines of military life.


back to top