2016: A Dance to the Music of Time discussion

The Soldier's Art (A Dance to the Music of Time, #8)
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message 1: by Sunny (new) - added it

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


message 2: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I'm only 40-or-so pages in but I'm finding it a little dull at the moment—hopefully that will change.

I've just read the dialogue between the two colonels, Eric & Derrick, which was quite amusing.

There are a lot of military abbreviations being used; most of them I'm ok with or can find out, but I don't know what A & Q stands for. Anyone?


message 3: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "I'm only 40-or-so pages in but I'm finding it a little dull at the moment—hopefully that will change. ."

I'm about 10 pages behind you, feeling the same way, hopeful until I read your comment ;) that it would pick up any time now.

Re A&Q: I was wondering the same thing, but Google comes up empty. Acquisitions and Quarters!?!


message 4: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments A good guess Theresa! I had to return my Spurling book to the library otherwise I'd have a look in there.

I find it amusing, and can ifentify with Nick, when he feels he has to downplay his reading habits.


message 5: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "A good guess Theresa! I had to return my Spurling book to the library otherwise I'd have a look in there.

I find it amusing, and can ifentify with Nick, when he feels he has to downplay his readin..."


After reading further (now on page 84) I think my guess about Quarters might be correct, but I'm not so sure about Acquisitions.

Speaking of Nick's reading habits, it was right at the confrontation with the general about Trollope that the reading became no longer dull for me. Btw, I agree with Nick about Trollope. ;)


message 6: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Teresa wrote: "Speaking of Nick's reading habits, it was right at the confrontation with the general about Trollope that the reading became no longer dull for me. Btw, I agree with Nick about Trollope. ;) "

I got to the Trollope discussion this morning (Balzac!) and the following incident between the general and Widmerpool. I agree it seems to be picking up. It's a bit strange for one of these books to start poorly as so far they've all started well so far.


message 7: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I always like character descriptions, and I especially liked this one of Diplock:
His woolly grey hair, short thick body, air of perpetual busyness, suggested an industrious gnome conscripted into the service of the army; a gnome who also liked to practise considerable malice against the race of men with whom he mingled, by making as complicated as possible every transaction they had to execute through himself.
An 'industrious gnome' indeed, brilliant!


message 8: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "It's a bit strange for one of these books to start poorly as so far they've all started well so far..."

I thought the same...even though the military life itself might be dull.


message 9: by Teresa (new)

Teresa I loved this from the end of Chapter 1:

'Did he say anything else?'
'He talked about Trollope--and Balzac.'
'The authors?'
I was tempted to reply, 'No--the generals,' but discretion prevailed.'


And I was tempted to say, "Aw, come on, Nick, do it!"


message 10: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments I'm about to begin book 8 and forewarned is forearmed re potentially not enjoying the beginning of the first chapter. I do like the two selected quotes above though .

I also did wonder how this book would begin when book 7 ended in such an unprepossessing situation. I find Widmerpool interesting in very small doses but a department with him in charge didn't seem like a good setting for the next book to start!


message 11: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Sue wrote: "I'm about to begin book 8 and forewarned is forearmed re potentially not enjoying the beginning of the first chapter...I find Widmerpool interesting in very small doses..."

It was only the first 45 pages, Sue, and then I found my groove. ;)

I agree with you about Widmerpool, but the first scene with him (and the Colonel) is great; I actually had a bit of sympathy for W. during it!


message 12: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Teresa wrote: "Sue wrote: "I'm about to begin book 8 and forewarned is forearmed re potentially not enjoying the beginning of the first chapter...I find Widmerpool interesting in very small doses..."

It was only..."


I did start last night and actually have found it better reading than I expected. Perhaps it was the diminished expectations. I'm 25 pages in and doing fine. The description of buying the great coat was excellent and I found the description of standing at night with the bren gun while watching the Germans dropping their loads over the city nearby very emotional--sort of a subdued you-are-there moment.


message 13: by Teresa (new)

Teresa I finished last night and feel petty now for 'complaining' about the dullness of the beginning! The rest of this installment had me speeding along with everything that happened.


message 14: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Teresa wrote: "I finished last night and feel petty now for 'complaining' about the dullness of the beginning! The rest of this installment had me speeding along with everything that happened."

Good to know. I have had so many things going on that I've been delayed with my reading but plan to get more in soon.


message 15: by Jonathan (last edited Aug 04, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Teresa wrote: "I finished last night and feel petty now for 'complaining' about the dullness of the beginning! The rest of this installment had me speeding along with everything that happened."

I've just finished Part Two; hope to finish the rest tomorrow. There's a lot happening in Part Two.

I always find it amusing that wherever Nick goes he bumps in to old friends and acquaitances, such as the appearance of Stringham or meeting Pennistone at his interview.

We definitely get more of a sense that a war is on with this volume, don't we?


message 16: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Jonathan wrote: "I always find it amusing that wherever Nick goes he bumps in to old friends and acquaitances, such as the appearance of Stringham or meeting Pennistone at his interview.

We definitely get more of a sense that a war is on with this volume, don't we? ."


Same here. Though I did love the parts with Stringham and there's a certain irony with the Pennistone episodes, as Powell seems to be mocking these numerous encounters as being a matter of "will".

Definitely. Though perhaps ironic that most of that happens while Nick is on leave.


Diane Barnes Just got started. The first 10 pages were a slog, but it seems to be picking up. I did love the quote from Nick that he had finally admitted to being a reader, since it seemed to mark him as an oddity from whom not much was expected. Still chuckling over that one.


Diane Barnes Finished today, and loved how it ended. The last couple of hours in Widmerpool's office were pretty frenetic, and a lot happened that we will see about in the next episode, no doubt. Also, a lot happened in the first day of Nick's leave. But no mention of Isobel or the baby. I'm trying to decide if it's not important to Nick, or not important to Powell as far as furthering the story.


message 19: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Yes, Parts Two & Three were really good. It was good to see Widmerpool get his comeuppance and to see that Nick is quite pleased about it.

We don't ever really know too much about Nick & family - I think I'm just used ti it now.


message 20: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I thought it was interesting that Nick is starting to get a bit fed up with, or embarrased by, his old friends; he's secretly pleased when Stringham gets moved from the canteen, even though he feels a little guilty about feeling so, and he's getting to dislike Widmerpool more and more.

BTW I liked this quote from Stringham (when he called Nick to help him with Bithel):
Bring a torch, if you've got one. It's as dark as hell and stinks of something far worse than cheese.
In fact, that may be my favourite quote from this volume.:-)


Nigeyb As with previous volumes, the writing is sublime


Anyone missing Kenneth Widmerpool until his final page appearance in "The Valley of Bones" can be reassured that he's back with a vengeance in "The Soldier's Art". For the first time in the series, Widmerpool has gained a role where he can exert power over others and engage in schemes to further his career. Needless to say this opportunity does not bode well for his subordinates who, in this volume, happen to include both Nick Jenkins and Charles Stringham. Does this suggest his trajectory is to become ever more monstrous? It is an interesting prospect and one that feels increasingly probable.

So often with the "A Dance To The Music Of Time" books, the pay-off, when it comes, is well worth the wait, as we learn the title of "The Soldier's Art" refers to a Browning poem which Stringham discusses with Nick in a pivotal scene and seems to foretell of Stringham's ultimate fate.

I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart.
As a man calls for wine before he fights,
I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights,
Ere fitly I could hope to play my part.
Think first, fight afterwards--the soldier's art:
One taste of the old time sets all to rights.


Elsewhere World War 2 starts to take its toll in sad and dramatic ways, and this book serves as a timely reminder that this was an era of uncertainty and bloodshed. The death of characters who readers have come to know well over seven previous volumes helps to reinforce the senseless tragedy of the war.

As with previous volumes, the writing is sublime, and the slow, methodical approach to some superb set pieces is a wonderful thing to behold. I adore these books and will be reading them all again once I finish the series.

4/5


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments I finished it today. I didn't find it boring at all, quite the opposite : it was one of the most dramatic episodes, both in the company of Widemerpool and in London during the blitz.

Loved the poem that gives the title to the book. I guess I need to read the rest of it, since I have also embarked on Stephen King's Dark Tower.


message 23: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Algernon wrote: "I finished it today. I didn't find it boring at all, quite the opposite : it was one of the most dramatic episodes, both in the company of Widemerpool and in London during the blitz."

I agree, Algernon, that the book as a whole was the opposite of boring. I only felt that way in the very beginning and, after that, I raced through it.


message 24: by Algernon (Darth Anyan) (last edited Aug 10, 2016 10:35AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments The first part held a special significance for me since it reminded me how much I hated my nine months stint in the army. The stark contrast with the social life of London before the war is I think deliberate and serves to underline how difficult it was for Jenkins, an artist, to live in a world dominated by 'will' : by such tedious conversations about the promotions, bad food, petty rivalries, boring routines, pointless tasks, uncertainty about the future and forced subordination to often absurd rules.


message 25: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Algernon wrote: "The first part held a special significance for me since it reminded me how much I hated my nine months stint in the army. The stark contrast with the social life of London before the war is I think..."

Yes, the absurdity of war itself, and the military too.


message 26: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Algernon wrote: "The stark contrast with the social life of London before the war is I think deliberate and serves to underline how difficult it was for Jenkins, an artist, to live in a world dominated by 'will'..."

I agree it was deliberate, setting us up (theme-wise) for the very end of this volume. Powell is masterful at that kind of a thing. I certainly trusted him.


message 27: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Teresa wrote: "Algernon wrote: "The stark contrast with the social life of London before the war is I think deliberate and serves to underline how difficult it was for Jenkins, an artist, to live in a world domin..."

I haven't finished this book yet but I agree--I trust Powell as an author and where he is taking me.


Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 29 comments Teresa wrote: "After reading further (now on page 84) I think my guess about Quarters might be correct, but I'm not so sure about Acquisitions."

My guess is that the A stands for Administration. The Q is probably Quarters or Quartermaster.


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments Janet wrote: "Teresa wrote: "After reading further (now on page 84) I think my guess about Quarters might be correct, but I'm not so sure about Acquisitions."

My guess is that the A stands for Administration. T..."


I was wondering too, guessing Q is something to do with supplies


Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 29 comments The quartermaster is an "officer charged with providing quarters, clothing, fuel, transportation, etc., for a body of troops". So if I am correct and the Administration is involved with personnel it would make sense to link the two together.


message 31: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments I really liked Stringham in this book and appreciated his voice. The entire tone of this book was so different, with the events in London, Stringham's poetry, Bigg's final act. I wonder how the next book will go. We are firmly in the reality of war now.


Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 44 comments (view spoiler)


message 33: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments Algernon wrote: "[spoilers removed]"

Totally agree, Algernon!


Janet (goodreadscomjanetj) | 29 comments Diane wrote: "Finished today, and loved how it ended. The last couple of hours in Widmerpool's office were pretty frenetic, and a lot happened that we will see about in the next episode, no doubt. Also, a lot ha..."

I can't wait to see the denouement of all that happened in those last couple of hours. This was definitely my favorite volume so far.


message 35: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments I thought Parts Two & Three were particularly good so, as always, I'm looking forward to the next volume. I think the Blitz episodes highlighted the fact that events always seem to be going on elsewhere.


message 36: by Dawn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 12 comments Well ~ I just started today - and I am slugging along , but as you all said I will find my way. I really have been loving this whole set of books . Powell is wonderful. I did not really believe I would ever really learn all of these names , but can you believe we have come this far and have grasped this life and it's dance !!!
Sorry , I have not spoken much . I have really preoccupied with my hot read of Rebecca West: A Modern Sybyl and she has been occupying most of my time . If anyone has an interest in a wild journalist with a scandalous yet popular with everyone everywhere personality , this real life writer of critique, news, and novels is incredible and into everything . I still have more to read about her , but everyplace I read her name is mentioned somewhere new .

These are two of my favorite reads right now and then I added Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave and I am one happy reader in this era !

Dawn


Darwin8u | 12 comments The thing about these war novels that gets me (besides the deaths) is Powell's fixation on clothing/theatre. I finished A Soldier's Art last week and was amazed at how tight it was. He pulls all the threads together in this novel. This is a tailor's novel.


Darwin8u | 12 comments Jonathan wrote: "I thought Parts Two & Three were particularly good so, as always, I'm looking forward to the next volume. I think the Blitz episodes highlighted the fact that events always seem to be going on else..."

I just finished the next book and it is the same. Everything is off scene (which makes sense given the scope of characters and the single narrator).


message 39: by Sue (new)

Sue | 85 comments I'm staying with the schedule and will begin the next book on the first. Have to admit I am looking forward to reading it.


message 40: by Jonathan (last edited Aug 23, 2016 01:01PM) (new)

Jonathan | 106 comments Darwin8u wrote: "This is a tailor's novel.."

Ha! Ha! I like that. Yes, it started with Jenkins looking for a coat.

I particularly liked the terrible interview that Jenkins had in London.


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