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A Dance to the Music of Time – his brilliant 12-novel sequence, which chronicles the lives of over three hundred characters, is a unique evocation of life in twentieth-century England. The novels follow Nicholas Jenkins, Kenneth Widmerpool and others, as they negotiate the intellectual, cultural and social hurdles that stand between them and the “Acceptance World.”


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A Dance to the Music of Time – his brilliant 12-novel sequence, which chronicles the lives of over three hundred characters, is a unique evocation of life in twentieth-century England. The novels follow Nicholas Jenkins, Kenneth Widmerpool and others, as they negotiate the intellectual, cultural and social hurdles that stand between them and the “Acceptance World.”

30 review for The Kindly Ones

  1. 4 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    Memories of childhood and perturbations of the present… The Greeks, because they so greatly feared the Furies, had named them the Eumenides – the Kindly Ones – flattery intended to appease their terrible wrath. But despite the flattery the Kindly Ones stick to their unkindly doings… The grey, flickering sequences of the screen showed with increased persistence close-ups of stocky demagogues, fuming, gesticulating, stamping; oceans of raised forearms; steel-helmeted men tramping in column; armoured Memories of childhood and perturbations of the present… The Greeks, because they so greatly feared the Furies, had named them the Eumenides – the Kindly Ones – flattery intended to appease their terrible wrath. But despite the flattery the Kindly Ones stick to their unkindly doings… The grey, flickering sequences of the screen showed with increased persistence close-ups of stocky demagogues, fuming, gesticulating, stamping; oceans of raised forearms; steel-helmeted men tramping in column; armoured vehicles rumbling over the pavé of broad boulevards. Crisis was unremitting, cataclysm not long to be delayed. The characters are now the fully grown-up people and some of them try to fight their destiny, some make career and some just try to survive. Now, that coarseness had become more than ever marked. He looked hard, even rather savage, as if he had made up his mind to endure life rather than, as formerly, to enjoy it. Life and history go on and time waits for no one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    We followed through the door, crossing the hall again, while I wondered what on earth had happened to Templer’s wife to give her this air of having been struck by lightning. or, if you prefer, “Takes place”: 1939. The first chapter consists of Jenkins’ memories of 1914, when he was a lad of seven or eight and his family were renting Stonehurst, a (fictional) place near Aldershot; the second chapter, memories of 1928-29, then October 1938; third chapter, summer 1939; last chapter, autumn We followed through the door, crossing the hall again, while I wondered what on earth had happened to Templer’s wife to give her this air of having been struck by lightning. or, if you prefer, “Takes place”: 1939. The first chapter consists of Jenkins’ memories of 1914, when he was a lad of seven or eight and his family were renting Stonehurst, a (fictional) place near Aldershot; the second chapter, memories of 1928-29, then October 1938; third chapter, summer 1939; last chapter, autumn 1939. In my view, the entire narrative of memories and happenings is being told from the vantage point of the last chapter – late 1939 (but it could be even later I suppose). Jenkins now in his early 30s and is still married to Isobel Tolland. Book published: 1962. Anthony Powell was in his mid-late 50s. Significant characters (view spoiler)[bold that appear in the very first novel (hide spoiler)] that visit the narrative: Ralph Barnby, St John Clarke, General Conyers, Edgar Deacon, Sir Magnus Donners, Bob Duport, Mrs Erdleigh, Viscount Erridge (now called Alfred at times by Jenkins, since they have become brothers-in-law), Amy Foxe (Stringham’s mother), Buster Foxe (third husband of Stringham’s mother), Lady Molly & Ted Jeavons, Uncle Giles, Gypsy Jones, Chips Lovell, Mark Members, Hugh Moreland, Quiggin, Charles Stringham, Jean Templer, Peter Templer, Widmerpool. Besides these, all nine of Jenkins’ siblings-in-law – the Tolland flock - find places in the narrative [in birth order, Viscount Erridge (Alfred), Frederica (Budd), Norah, George, Susan, Blanche, Robert, Isobel (his wife), Hugo and Priscilla. There are three new characters worth mentioning: Albert Creech, Dr. Trelawney, and a woman called Billson. Albert Creech is the cook that Jenkins’ family employed at Stonehurst. He left their employ to get married. A tenuous contact is maintained, and Creech reenters the narrative in chapter 3. Dr. Trelawney. Hmm a strange one indeed. He is first met by Jenkins that same long-ago summer of 1914, in the environs on Stonehurst. ’Dr Trelawney’s place’, as it was called locally, always gave me an excited, uneasy feeling … a pebble-dashed, gabled, red-tiled residence, a mile or two away … Dr Trelawney conducted a centre for his own peculiar religious, philosophical – some said magical – tenets, a cult of which he was high priest, if not actually messiah … one of those fairly common strongholds of unsorted ideas that played such a part in the decade ended by the war. Simple-lifers, utopian socialists, spiritualists, occultists, theosophists, quietists, pacifists, futurists, cubists, zealots of all sorts in their approach to life and art, later to be relentlessly classified into their respective religious, political, aesthetic or psychological categories, were then thought by the unenlightened to be scarcely distinguishable one from another: a collection of visionaries who hoped to build a New Heaven and a New Earth through the agency of their particular crackpot activities, sinister or comic, according to the way you looked as such things … When out with his disciples, running through the heather in a short white robe or tunic, his long silky beard and equally long hair caught by the breeze, Dr Trelawney had an uncomfortably biblical air … Once, we saw Dr Trelawney and his flock roaming through the scrub at the same moment as the Military Policeman on his patrol was riding back from the opposite direction. The sun was setting. This meeting and merging of two elements – two ways of life – made a striking contrast in physical appearance, moral ideas, and visual tone-values.Trelawney’s flock plays a striking role in the grand finale of the chapter; and Trelawney not only reappears in each of the remaining chapters, but likewise reoccurs in each of the next three books of the Dance. As for Billson, she plays the role of “misanthropic parlourmaid” at Stonehurst that same summer, and has a startling part in the most shocking scene in the chapter. (See next paragraph.) The images above … The picture from the cover of the Penguin edition of The Kindly Ones depicts, in fact, the same Billson walking into a small gathering at Stonehurst that summer, to announce her self-termination of services to the Jenkinses. Without dwelling on the shock and consternation caused by this appearance, and the folklore that reverberated down the years - nor explaining the heroic actions of a certain guest to partially restore the situation to its previous placid state – I will pass on to the second picture above. This is a depiction, from the current millennium I believe, of the Furies, those agents of horrible revenge who (we are told on the second page of the novel, via Nicholas' childhood recollections) were so feared by the Greeks that they named them the Eumenidies - that is, the Kindly Ones - so as to hopefully placate their wrath. Nick further relates that his tutor from those days said that they “inflicted the vengeance of the gods by bringing in their train war, pestilence, dissension on earth.” Perhaps something could thus be made out of the title, in support of a theme in the novel of the fury of a woman scorned; marshalling Jean Templer (Duport), Moreland’s wife Matilda, Gypsy Jones – or even Albert’s fear that Suffragettes may bust into Stonehurst and “burn the place down”. The latter, in fact, immediately precedes Jenkins’ memory of Miss Orchard’s lesson on the Furies. But this doesn’t strike me as what Powell is getting at. Instead, more obviously, Jenkin’s remembering the “war, pestilence, dissension” of his tutor’s lesson connects the Kindly Ones to the atmosphere he recalls from this time in the late ‘30s. Whereas the previous book seemed to me to develop a more mature point of view in Nick, and a growing interest in deeper, more substantive questions, this novel is permeated with a darker, more menacing mood, one connected with the events of Munich (October ’38) and the German-Russian Pact of August 1939: “war towered by the bed in the morning, … an atmosphere not at all favorable to writing novels”, complains Jenkins (87). Even characters ostensibly, or formerly, on a friendly basis now become easily estranged or otherwise at odds, exhibiting a disturbing inclination towards – yes - dissension. Am I making too much of the observation, made in a typical gregarious gathering, having the grotesque undertones exemplified by the quote at the review’s top? Am I imagining that there is an unusual recurrence of words like ‘sinister’ in the novel? Perhaps. At any rate, Jenkins make the connection explicitly at the end of the first chapter: “Albert survived the war. Others were less fortunate. The Fenwick’s father was killed; Mary Barber’s father was killed; Richard Vaughan’s father was killed; the Westmacott twins’ father was killed. Was the Military Policeman who used to jog across the heather killed? … Childhood was brought suddenly, even rather brutally, to a close. Albert’s shutter may have kept out the suffragettes: they did not effectively exclude the Furies.” Jenkins himself seems gripped, in reflective moments, by the vague, looming figure of war. He recalls, with much irony, Widmerpool’s belief, delivered soon after Munich, that “We have avoided war. I myself think we are safe for five years at least.” As usual, Jenkins, without comment, presents this as a means of indicating that the truth is likely to be of a nature contradictory to Widmerpool’s insight. The theme of men of action, a recalled topic of interest between himself and Moreland from these days, is related. When it is first brought up, near the start of the second chapter, Jenkins mentions a photograph from a Surrealist magazine (the Surrealists being ‘keen on action’) of a contributor “insulting a priest”. Moreland: “Exactly. Violence, revolt – sweep away the past … live intensely.” In the end, Jenkins walks home, having found a way into the Army satisfactory to his desires.Outside the moon had gone behind a bank of cloud. I went home through the gloom, exhilarated, at the same time rather afraid. Ahead lay the region beyond the white-currant bushes, where the wild country began, where armies for ever campaigned, where the Rules and Discipline of War prevailed. Another stage of life was passed, just as finally as on that day when childhood had come so abruptly to an end at Stonehurst.Now real life, the life of the man of action, a life to live intensely, seems about to begin for Jenkins and others of his generation – those who missed the first war, who dodged that assault of the Kindly Ones, must now prepare themselves to experience their fury. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Previous review: Climate Change Impacts (now) for something not completely different Next review: Killer Angels Older review: ___ Previous library review: Casanova's Chinese Restaurant Dance #5 Next library review: The Valley of Bones Dance #7

  3. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    The god, Mars, approaches the earth to lay waste. Moreover, the future is ever the consequence of the past. Why would Anthony Powell take us back, in the beginning of the sixth episode of his Dance, all the way to the early childhood of his narrator, Nicholas Jenkins? The answer may be in the quote I have used to open my review. The words are part of the ramblings of a self-appointed holy man/ prophet/ guru, a Dr Trelawney, and serve a dual purpose in forecasting the world going to war (twice, The god, Mars, approaches the earth to lay waste. Moreover, the future is ever the consequence of the past. Why would Anthony Powell take us back, in the beginning of the sixth episode of his Dance, all the way to the early childhood of his narrator, Nicholas Jenkins? The answer may be in the quote I have used to open my review. The words are part of the ramblings of a self-appointed holy man/ prophet/ guru, a Dr Trelawney, and serve a dual purpose in forecasting the world going to war (twice, history repeating itself between the start and the end of the novel), and in underlining the structure of the Dance to the Music of Time, where Nicholas often revisits the past to cast new light on events and to explain some chance encounter in the present. From the mouth of the same bizarre Dr. Trelawney : If you journey towards the Great Gate, you encounter the same wayfarers on the road. In practice, going back to the beginning of the journey, Nick presents us with the roots of his imagination and inquisitiveness that will serve him so well later in his literary career. Living with his parents and older sister in a rented mansion called Stonehurst, Nick is equally enchanted by the wild landscape, by the alleged ghosts that haunt the house, by the sentimental mishaps of the hired help and by the curious habits of his neighbours, prominent among them a long shanked and bearded Trelawney running over the hills in a Grecian tunic with a crowd of young acolytes in tow. The Essence of All is the Godhead of the True. is Trelawney mantra and greeting to the world, the kernel of his philosophy. One is tempted to laugh it off as the rantings of a madman, but I learned not to dismiss anything out of hand as I am reading Powell. By the way, the answer to the guru's greeting is : The Vision of Visions heals the Blindness of Sight. , which if you stop to think about it a little is close to other Oriental inspired creeds that claim illumination comes not from observation but from introspection, and turns us back to the first greeting that could be an affirmation of a singular truth, placed well above the diversity of individual faiths. There is one character that is ready to give the benefit of doubt to Dr. Trelawney, but I will put his name in spoilers for readers who like the unexpected encounters that fascinate Powell so strongly (view spoiler)[ it's General Aldrys Conyers, who is becoming one of my favorite personages in the whole series : General Conyers, who always prided himself on being up-to-date, was even rumoured to have been 'up' in a flying machine. This story was dismissed by my parents as being unworthy of serious credence. . I would believe Conyers is capable of anything he puts his mind to, and the range of his interests and hobbies is unrivaled even among the younger generation. (hide spoiler)] There seems to be a lot of sunshine and humour in these fond memories of childhood, with the usual undercurrent of mystery and dread that holds the reader in thrall for the next change of step in the Dance. Powell is unrivalled (maybe with the exception of Wodehouse) in the care and elegance of his phrasing. Every word is in its right place, the conversations and the arguments flow with the same ease and necessity as a well written musical concerto, the metaphors are elaborate and long-reaching. Another pleasant surprise of this episode for me is the return of the humorous accents in Powell's writing, wickedly subversive at times - from the father's grumpiness over the General's 'motor', to Alfred the cook's dread of the sufragettes or the maid's terror of ghosts, the 'funny days' of the orderly leading to the oddball glimpses of the local guru. As a child you are in some ways more acutely aware of what people feel about one another than you are when childhood has come to an end. The high point of chapter one is one of those private incidents that seem destined to be imprinted on the impressionable mind of young Nick, full of confusion and mystery in the present but stored for future re-examination (view spoiler)[ the nervous breakdown of the maid, the naked truth behind the British stiff upper lip and reticence to openly discuss emotional matters (hide spoiler)] . For me though, the genius of the author is in the little touches, in the details that seem trivial at first until a later event brings them back to mind. One example is the interview young Nick has with General Conyers, impressive in the details the boy gives about the goings on in the neighborhood, prefiguring from a very early stage his future literary career: An exceedingly well-informed report, said the General. You have given yourself the trouble to go into matters thoroughly, I see. That is one of the secrets of success in life. The second detail is a puzzle image closing the first chapter, as Nick watches Dr Trelawney and his acolites running away over the moor (view spoiler)[ is this the earliest apparition of Widmerpool in the series? (hide spoiler)] Then the last of them, a very small, pathetic child with a huge head, was finally lost to sight. >><<>><<>><< For the second chapter, the Dance jumps forward to the current time, defined by conversations about the Munich Agreement, which places the action in 1938. A year when the threat of war could no longer be ignored, yet that is exactly what Nick and his friends are trying so hard to do as we move from the military austerity of Stonehurst to the opulent decadence of Stourwater, the castle residence of Sir Magnus Donners. The point of self inflicted delusions is introduced by one of those recurring characters that seem destined to be a part of the story even after they pass through the Pearly Gates. Mr Deacon the painter, in discussing the mystery of the succes of Dr Trelawney and his mumbo-jumbo, is taking aim at religion, but the aphorism can be equally applied to politics in a time of crisis: Human beings are sad dupes, I fear. The priesthood would have a thin time of it were it not so. Before going to the countryside though there are some pages of catching up and linking to the past, with Moreland discussing the eternal duality of the Dance between will/ambition/power and contemplation/art/emotion, easing the reader back into the marital troubles and game of musical chairs all the couples involved in the Dance seem to go through: Is it better to love somebody and not have them, or have somebody and not love them? I mean from the point of view of action - living intensely. Does action consists in having or loving? In having - naturally - it might first appear. Loving is just emotion, not action at all. But is that correct? I'm not sure. I don't think the question will be answered before the end of the Dance, and seeing as new players are joining the Dance in every volume and in every generation, it is probable that the balance will continue to tilt one way or another as long as the music keeps playing. Moreland sort of agrees at the end of his (drunken) musings : ... action, stemming from sluggish, invisible sources, moves towards destinations no less indefinable. What is left for us to do is to relax and enjoy the show, and the Stourwater episode is one of the most spectacular in the series so far when a formal dinner invitation turns into a game of charades where the actors don masks to reveal their inner selves. The master of ceremonies is Sir Magnus Donners, a man dedicated to power that apparently has little use for frivolities unless they serve his ego, like the fashionable mistresses he keeps and the wealth on display at his residence: He took no pleasure in reading. No doubt that was a wise precaution for a man of action, whose imagination must be rigorously disciplined, if the will is to remain unsapped by daydreams, painting and music being, for some reason, less deleterious than writing in that respect. Like all the other characters of Powell, Donners has hidden depths and surprises up his sleeve, and his cold eyes notice far more than the highbrow guests are willing to admit. When the theme of the photographic charades is chosen, Donners takes charge masterfully of the room, with uncomfortably accurate assignments for his guests: 'What are the Seven Deadly Sins, anyway?' said Anne Umfraville. 'I can never remember. Lust, of course - we all know that one - but the others, Pride ...' 'Anger - Avarice - Envy - Sloth - Gluttony', said Isobel. 'They are represented all around us' said Sir Magnus. [...] I shall allot everyone a sin. Then they will be allowed their own team to act it. Peter, I think we can rely on you to take charge of Lust - which for some reason Anne seems to suppose so acceptable to everyone - for I don't think we can offer such a sin to a lady. Perhaps, Anne, you would yourself undertake Anger - no, no, not a word. I must insist. Matilda - Envy. Not suit you? Certainly I think it would suit you. Lady Isobel, no one could object to Pride. Betty, I am going to ask you to portray Avarice. It is a very easy one, making no demands on your powers as an actress. Nonsense, Betty, you will do it very well. We will all help you. Hugh, don't be offended if I ask you to present Gluttony. I have often heard you praise the pleasures of the table above all others. Mr Jenkins, I fear there is nothing left for you but Sloth. There are, of course, no personal implications.' The feeling of dancing on the edge of a precipice is reinforced by the entrance of a brooding figure in a military uniform, cutting short the revels (view spoiler)[ The door of the dining-room, so recently slammed, opened again. A man stood on the threshold. He was in uniform. He appeared to be standing at attention, a sinister, threatening figure, calling the world to arms. It was Widmerpool. His arrival was sort of announced by Donners early in the evening, yet Widmerpool still holds the series record for spectacular entrances. This time I could hear in the background the opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (hide spoiler)] . As with the first chapter, I was impressed by the stylistic range of the presentation, from the gossipy humour of a fashionable newspaper to deep philosophical questioning, with the added bonus of a more direct participation of Nicholas Jenkins in the proceedings. For example, in discussing Dr. Trelawney in a pub with Moreland and Deacon, Nick demonstrates that men can be as wickedly attracted to rumours as their consorts: 'What had he done to the girl?' 'Oh, the usual things, I suppose - no doubt less usual ones, too, since Trelawney is an unusual man. In any case, possibilities are so limited even for a thaumaturge. The point was her subsequent suicide. There was talk of nameless rites, drugs, disagreeable forms of discipline - the sort of thing that might rather appeal to Sir Magnus Donner.' Isobel plays a shadow role for most of the Dance, but when she opens her mouth she gives an excellent account of her wit. Hearing the name of a former friend of her husband (Peter Templer), she exclaims: "Wasn't he the brother of that girl you used to know?" She spoke as if finally confirming a fact of which she had always been a little uncertain, at the same time smiling as if she hardly thought the pretence worth keeping up. Gulp! Husbands, take note! Your wives always know all about your past! To close the second chapter, I have a note from Nick becoming aware of leaving youth behind and settling into his mature years, appropriate since we are reaching the middle of his journey through life, as Dante put it in his Cantos. Ten years before, the exuberance of the armour, tapestries, china, furniture, had been altogether too much for the austere aesthetic ideals to which I then subscribed. Time had no doubt modified the uninstructed severity of my own early twenties. Less ascetic, intellectually speaking, more corrupt, perhaps, I could now recognise that individuals live in different ways. They must be taken as they come, Sir Magnus Donners, everyone else. Accepting life as it is and reserving judgement plays an important role in the third chapter, an important one for me as it takes Nick from his familiar haunts (London pubs, society saloons, country manors) and forces him to confront the concepts of loss, aging and death. Nick attends the funeral of a family relation (view spoiler)[ Uncle Giles (hide spoiler)] , all but forgotten in a decrepit hotel by the seaside. The Bellevue Hotel is compared with another one in London, giving the same impression of a beached ship, waiting for a favorable wind to set sail for some distant shores. Inside the hotel, Nick faces ghosts from his past - Albert, the cook from his childhood residence at Stonehurts, still plagued by women worries; Dr Trelawney still ranting about the coming storm, Mrs. Erdleigh the seer who predicted his illicit love affair with a married woman; the wronged husband from that distant love affair... Out of his comfort zone, Nick can no longer hide behind his usual discretion about his feelings and lets the reader closer to his heart than ever before. It's a sobering experience, reopening the question posed earlier by Moreland about how to live your life fully, by will or by emotion. The closing chapter of the novel takes place a year later, right before the invasion of Poland, and sees Nick in limbo, unable to either pick up his literary pursuits or to join the army after waiting too long to enlist. There are surprises aplenty here, and meeting with old friends in unusual circumstances. I have already discussed too many of these masterful movements from Powell from the previous three chapters, so I will be brief now in order to let readers enjoy them fully (view spoiler)[ ... keep an eye though on Moreland getting divorced, Widmerpool getting too full of himself as an officer, General Conyers getting married and Nick finding a solution to his troubles by following his Uncle Giles' maxim that in life it's not important what you know but WHO you know (hide spoiler)] This sixth episode of the Dance is my favorite so far, as proven by the lengthy notes I took and by the joy I had following the ever shifting connections between the dancers. My final quote is a reference to a slight change in Nickolas Jenkins, who I often criticised in the past for being too passive while life bubbles and boils all around him. He takes a decisive step for his future at the end of this book, and remembers Mr. Deacon saying that : Adventures only happen to adventurers. I know there's a war coming, most probably with the next episode of the Dance, but it looks like Nick has finally decided to 'live intensely'.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    "One of the worst things about life is not how nasty the nasty people are. You know that already. It is how nasty the nice people can be." Volume Six starts out by going back to Nick's childhood and the beginning of WWI. It ends with the beginning of WWII, as Nick and his friends and family divulge some secrets and keep others close to the vest. We meet characters that have only been spoken of in earlier volumes, and lose others as time takes its toll. This is a brilliant sequence of novels, and "One of the worst things about life is not how nasty the nasty people are. You know that already. It is how nasty the nice people can be." Volume Six starts out by going back to Nick's childhood and the beginning of WWI. It ends with the beginning of WWII, as Nick and his friends and family divulge some secrets and keep others close to the vest. We meet characters that have only been spoken of in earlier volumes, and lose others as time takes its toll. This is a brilliant sequence of novels, and I'm very happy to be only halfway through.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    Exquisite writing, a gripping narrative, humour and a wonderful social history of England In common with the previous five volumes this book is an absolute delight. Exquisite writing, a gripping narrative, humour and a wonderful social history of England throughout the twentieth century. What more could a reader wish for? The shadow of war hangs over "The Kindly Ones" ("A Dance to the Music of Time" Volume 6). The book opens at the start of World War 1 and closes with the start of World War 2. As Exquisite writing, a gripping narrative, humour and a wonderful social history of England In common with the previous five volumes this book is an absolute delight. Exquisite writing, a gripping narrative, humour and a wonderful social history of England throughout the twentieth century. What more could a reader wish for? The shadow of war hangs over "The Kindly Ones" ("A Dance to the Music of Time" Volume 6). The book opens at the start of World War 1 and closes with the start of World War 2. As in previous volumes the chronology is generally moving forwards however we start by a leap back to Nick's childhood in a family home near Aldershot. We are also introduced to some new characters, most notably the splendid Dr Trelawney, who must surely be based on Aleister Crowley, and who features in some great scenes and gets some memorable lines. How about this as a way of describing the imminence of World War 2: "The sword of Mithras, who each year immolates the sacred bull, will ere long now flash from its scabbard. The slayer of Osiris once again demands his grievous tribute of blood. The Angel of Death will ride the storm. 'The god, Mars, approaches the earth to lay waste. Moreover, the future is ever the consequence of the past." As with previous volumes there are some unexpected twists and turns, including many for characters we have come to know well including our narrator Nick, Widmerpool, Uncle Giles, Moreland, Sir Magnus Donners, General Conyers, Tuffy Weedon, Bob Duport, and Templer. I am delighted I still have another six volumes still to read. 5/5

  6. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    "The Kindly Ones" starts with a look back to Nick Jenkin's boyhood just as World War I is starting. Nick learned in his mythology lessons that the Greeks called the Furies the flattering name the Eunenides (or the Kindly Ones) to appease their wrath. The Furies were responsible for the gods inflicting war, dissension, and other maladies on the earth. Nick also remembers a visit from General Conyers and his wife to the Jenkins' home. As they were leaving, Uncle Giles arrived with the news that th "The Kindly Ones" starts with a look back to Nick Jenkin's boyhood just as World War I is starting. Nick learned in his mythology lessons that the Greeks called the Furies the flattering name the Eunenides (or the Kindly Ones) to appease their wrath. The Furies were responsible for the gods inflicting war, dissension, and other maladies on the earth. Nick also remembers a visit from General Conyers and his wife to the Jenkins' home. As they were leaving, Uncle Giles arrived with the news that the Austrian Archduke was assassinated at Sarajevo. Flash foreward to 1938-39 when Nick encounters old friends from the previous five volumes. The mystics Dr Trelawney and Mrs Erdleigh also keep popping up in this book. War is again looming, and Nick is hoping to be commissioned as an officer in the Army with the help of Stanley Jeavons. The pompous Kenneth Widmerpool is already in the Army using his natural talents for ordering everyone around. The writing combines delicious British social comedy with history. Now on to the next trio of books, all set during World War II.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "The Essence of the All is the Godhead of the True." "The Visions of Visions heals the Blindness of Sight." Is it better to love somebody and not have them, or have somebody and not love them? I mean from the point of view of action -- living intensely. Does action consist in having or loving? In having -- naturally -- it might first appear. Loving is just emotion, not action at all. But is that correct? I'm not sure. -- Anthony Powell, The Kindly Ones. Book 6? Done. 2nd Movement? Done. Summer? Fini "The Essence of the All is the Godhead of the True." "The Visions of Visions heals the Blindness of Sight." Is it better to love somebody and not have them, or have somebody and not love them? I mean from the point of view of action -- living intensely. Does action consist in having or loving? In having -- naturally -- it might first appear. Loving is just emotion, not action at all. But is that correct? I'm not sure. -- Anthony Powell, The Kindly Ones. Book 6? Done. 2nd Movement? Done. Summer? Finished. The clock is at 6pm. The series is half-way through. And war, war has just begun. "The slayer of Osiris once again demands his grievous tribute of blood. The Angel of Death will ride the storm." The novel begins with a flashback to the eve of the Great War. Nick is a kid watching the adults in his life adjust and move to the inevitability of war and the changes it will bring into all of their lives. The best scene in this is one where the household parlourmaid, Billson appears the family's formal dinner naked (and clearly having a moment) after finding out the man she loves will marry another woman. We also have many great scenes with Dr. Trelawney. Trelawney is an occultist who seems to be largely drawn from Thelema founder Aleister Crowley (occult + drugs + asthma + relationship with Germany and British Secret Service). Anyway he is a fascinating character to include in this book. The occult, however, seems to fit this novel that deals with an almost anticipation of the great war against the Nazis, while also showcasing England's historical fascination with the weird and magical. It also fits the title, 'The Kindly Ones' which is an allusion to the Furies - The Eumenides - The Kindly Ones. According to Powell, in the beginning of this novel, 'The Kindly Ones' "inflicted the vengeance of the gods by bringing in their train war, pestilence, dissension on earth; torturing too, by the stings of conscience." So a naked parlourmaid serves almost as an "infernal goddesses" portending the coming Great War. Later in the novel, we see other signs and portents (and an older, weaker, but still portending Dr. Trelawney) of another coming cataclysm (World War II) that is more felt and believed than understood. It seems at this point in the narrative inevitable (and for us with the virtue of looking back, obvious) that death and destruction will soon exact its vengeance on Nick and his friends, England, and the World. Everyone seems to be paralyzed by the realization that the fun times are slipping into the night, the storm approaches, and future for everyone is about to go to Hell. "The god, Mars, approaches the earth to lay waste. Moreover, the future is ever the consequence of the past."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor

    The Kindly Ones are the Furies, and in this volume we are reminded that Nick was a child in the First World War, and at the end of the book, the Second has begun. Meanwhile the dance of the many lives intertwined in this brilliant series of novels continues. I liked this observation towards the end of the book: "One passes through the world knowing few, if any, of the important things about even the people with whom one has been from time to time in the closest intimacy." The book ends on a seriou The Kindly Ones are the Furies, and in this volume we are reminded that Nick was a child in the First World War, and at the end of the book, the Second has begun. Meanwhile the dance of the many lives intertwined in this brilliant series of novels continues. I liked this observation towards the end of the book: "One passes through the world knowing few, if any, of the important things about even the people with whom one has been from time to time in the closest intimacy." The book ends on a serious note as Nick looks ahead to "the wild country ... where the Rules and Discipline of War prevailed." Brilliant.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kim Kaso

    This one seems very much a book on the brink. We spend a good deal of time with Nick before the war, before he was in school with his friends, on the brink of WW I. Then we spend the rest of the war as people try and live out their day-to-day lives as Europe moves towards WW II and the inevitable disruption of all their lives and routines. This book felt more passive and distant to me, perhaps reflecting how people were in the run-up to a war that will exceed all their expectations and fears. Ra This one seems very much a book on the brink. We spend a good deal of time with Nick before the war, before he was in school with his friends, on the brink of WW I. Then we spend the rest of the war as people try and live out their day-to-day lives as Europe moves towards WW II and the inevitable disruption of all their lives and routines. This book felt more passive and distant to me, perhaps reflecting how people were in the run-up to a war that will exceed all their expectations and fears. Rather like standing still on the shoreline as the tidal wave approaches.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This is the sixth book of a 12 volumes series. Its sequel is "The Valley of Bones." The novel captures the dying fall of the period between the wars, relating the run up to the Second World War to the circumstances prevailing just before the Great War. Hints abound that the vulnerable are to suffer, just as those driven by force of will begin their advance. Widmerpool is portrayed as one such, and a harbinger of war. As ever, Nick is carried upon the tide of events, whilst seeking to do the honou This is the sixth book of a 12 volumes series. Its sequel is "The Valley of Bones." The novel captures the dying fall of the period between the wars, relating the run up to the Second World War to the circumstances prevailing just before the Great War. Hints abound that the vulnerable are to suffer, just as those driven by force of will begin their advance. Widmerpool is portrayed as one such, and a harbinger of war. As ever, Nick is carried upon the tide of events, whilst seeking to do the honourable thing. The Kindly Ones contains some of the most memorable scenes in the sequence including the appearance of the maid, Billson, naked when guests are being entertained, and the Seven Deadly Sins tableau performed at Stourwater Castle. The anticipated demise of Dr Trelawney is another such. Some notable - and intriguing - characters, like General Conyers and Ted Jeavons, are developed, in contrast to the little we learn of Nick. 4* A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1) 4* A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2) 4* The Acceptance World (A Dance to the Music of Time, #3) 4* At Lady Molly's (A Dance to the Music of Time, #4) 4* Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (A Dance to the Music of Time, #5) 4* The Kindly Ones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #6) TR The Valley of Bones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #7) TR The Soldier's Art (A Dance to the Music of Time, #8) TR The Military Philosophers (A Dance to the Music of Time, #9) TR Books Do Furnish a Room (A Dance to the Music of Time, #10) TR Temporary Kings (A Dance to the Music of Time, #11) TR Hearing Secret Harmonies (A Dance to the Music of Time, #12)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kalliope

    6 -- THE KINDLY ONES The Essence of the All is the Godhead of the True. The Vision of Visions heals the Blindness of Sight. These quotes would mean nothing for anybody who has not read the book, while they mean everything for those who have. ************** In this volume the Eumenides, or Kindly Ones, unleash the Will to Action. War. Like the previous volume this one interrupts the chronology and we jump back to an earlier time than the beginning. Reading the memories of the Narrator’s early c 6 -- THE KINDLY ONES The Essence of the All is the Godhead of the True. The Vision of Visions heals the Blindness of Sight. These quotes would mean nothing for anybody who has not read the book, while they mean everything for those who have. ************** In this volume the Eumenides, or Kindly Ones, unleash the Will to Action. War. Like the previous volume this one interrupts the chronology and we jump back to an earlier time than the beginning. Reading the memories of the Narrator’s early childhood, this seemed the closest to Proust in what I have read so far. Like the previous volume this one offers a side view onto the Narrator, the always present but elusive presence. He is like a camera in a world with no mirrors. But some cracks in his vision and in what he has recorded previously, begin to appear. Someone has taken him in and he has also withheld information in the past. The subject becomes object. And my favourite character, the most odious of them all, takes centre stage again and I am happy and continue to dance.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Dunn

    I loved this volume. Looking so forward to continuing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    The Kindly Ones is the sixth book in Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time sequence. It is now the late 1930’s, the possibility of war hangs over everyone– but this novel opens with reminiscence taking us right back to the dawn of WW1 and Jenkins’ boyhood. Nick and his family, as sister mother and father, lived then in a large colonial style bungalow on the Stonehurst estate - where they are assisted by three members of staff. It the stories of these three rather odd characters that Jenkin The Kindly Ones is the sixth book in Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time sequence. It is now the late 1930’s, the possibility of war hangs over everyone– but this novel opens with reminiscence taking us right back to the dawn of WW1 and Jenkins’ boyhood. Nick and his family, as sister mother and father, lived then in a large colonial style bungalow on the Stonehurst estate - where they are assisted by three members of staff. It the stories of these three rather odd characters that Jenkins recalls in the first long chapter of The Kindly Ones. Albert, who served as the family’s cook is remembered with some fondness, Billson the parlourmaid had a tendency to see ghosts while Bracey the family’s soldier-servant suffering some kind of depression was given to “funny days.” Bracey had romantic inclinations toward Billson who cast her own eye at Albert, though Albert had a young lady in Brighton, and with Bracey and Albert given to frequent fallings out it is these individuals who provide a good deal of fascination for the young Nick. On the day of the Sarajevo assassination Uncle Giles arrives unexpectedly and Albert gives notice. Albert announces he is to leave the family to marry his young lady, it necessarily causes great upset, especially in Billson – whose final breakdown in the sitting room as the Jenkins entertain General Conyers and his wife is remembered for years afterwards. I must admit to being rather sorry when I got to the end of this chapter - I could have happily read an entire novel about this collection of warring domestic eccentrics. “Like one of the Stonehurst ‘ghosts,’ war towered by the bed when you awoke in the morning; unlike those more transient, more accommodating spectres, its tall form, so far from dissolving immediately, remained, on the contrary, a looming, menacing shape of ever greater height, ever thickening density. The grey, flickering sequences of the screen showed with increased persistence close-ups of stocky demagogues, fuming, gesticulating, stamping; oceans of raised forearms; steel-helmeted men trampling in column; armoured vehicles rumbling over the pavѐ of boulevards. Crisis was unremitting, cataclysm not long to be delayed.” When we finally join Jenkins and his friends in the present – so to speak – it is still a year or so from the outbreak of war. Many men in expectation of the inevitable are already putting their names on reservist lists and joining territorial units. Nick and his wife Isobel are staying with the Morelands at their cottage near Stourwater, when they are invited to a dinner party by Sir Magnus Donners, with whom Matilda Moreland once had a relationship. Peter Templer, who is unaware that Jenkins had an affair with his sister, and whom Jenkins hasn’t seen in a while collects the couple and drives them to Stourwater. If the occasion wasn’t awkward enough, Donners decides he wants his guests to take part in a series of tableaux which he photographs depicting the seven deadly sins. Into this bizarre gathering walks Widmerpool – well of course he would - uniformed no less, to talk business with Donners. In the coming year – as Europe moves closer to war – Nick’s Uncle Giles dies and Nick travels to the shabby seaside hotel where he died to wind up his affairs. The hotel is run by Albert – the Jenkins family cook from years earlier, and here too Jenkins encounters Bob Duport – who had been married to Jean Templer and who Nick finds it surprisingly painful still to talk with. Also resident at the hotel is the peculiar Dr Trelawney –another odd figure from Jenkins childhood. It should be no surprise that Jenkins keeps running into people from his past – as in this astonishing sequence of novels everything is linked– everyone is connected through someone and already the whole has the feeling of a continuous dance. Later in 1939 Nick – having neglected so far to do so, and being a tad on the old side – is desperately trying to get himself an army commission – and turns first Widmerpool and later to Ted Jeavons ‘s brother to help him. So with the Kindly Ones – I am exactly halfway through the sequence – and still enjoying it very much indeed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Silverman

    Another very fine work that follows Nick Jenkins, the narrator, and his many associates, family members and in-laws up from around the Munich Agreement to the Second World War's beginning. The book opens, however, with an extended remembrance of Jenkins in childhood, living in the country house with his family and their servants and aides just prior to the beginning of the First World War. Thus, this individual book possesses a sort of symmetry and balance, even as it takes us to the halfway mar Another very fine work that follows Nick Jenkins, the narrator, and his many associates, family members and in-laws up from around the Munich Agreement to the Second World War's beginning. The book opens, however, with an extended remembrance of Jenkins in childhood, living in the country house with his family and their servants and aides just prior to the beginning of the First World War. Thus, this individual book possesses a sort of symmetry and balance, even as it takes us to the halfway mark of the Dance... series as a whole. The sense of doom that one feels at the end of the first section - the foreboding of some on hearing the news that Archduke Ferdinand has been assasinated with his wife and the knowledge of what followed - is felt throughout the rest of the book. Once again, new characters enter and many earlier characters are back - this is how all these books work, not coincidentally, like life itself. It's not always easy remembering the relationships that these characters have had with Jenkins or each other or what we've already heard about them in earlier books. And it's still the case that there aren't many here that I find to be strongly sympathetic or likable. Nevertheless, I am finding that my interest in them continues to grow. Jenkins himself has always been an appealing person, even as he is much more interested in the doings of the others in his world than in revealing much about his own thoughts and feelings. Erridge, modeled after George Orwell, who in this book is mostly just referenced in conversation by his friends and family (he is now Jenkin's brother-in-law), comes across to me as quite appealing, even as I think he is not especially loved by Powell himself. But then I am certainly biased by my independent fond feelings for Orwell. Again, what is most compelling about this book is the language and the subtle observations about human character and the way we all behave in the world.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sammy

    "[T]he future is ever the consequence of the past." - Dr. Trelawney Keats said "a thing of beauty is a joy forever". From some initial trepidation (frankly) about these volumes, I have become a full convert. #6 is set in two different time periods. First, the lonely summer of 1914, as young Nick and his family witness the onset of WWI. And second, the confusing summer of 1939, as Nick and Isobel - the former transitioning from one friend group to another, the latter pregnant again and hoping for "[T]he future is ever the consequence of the past." - Dr. Trelawney Keats said "a thing of beauty is a joy forever". From some initial trepidation (frankly) about these volumes, I have become a full convert. #6 is set in two different time periods. First, the lonely summer of 1914, as young Nick and his family witness the onset of WWI. And second, the confusing summer of 1939, as Nick and Isobel - the former transitioning from one friend group to another, the latter pregnant again and hoping for the best as her family face loss - await the near-certainty of WWII. The novel is draped in foreboding, but it's also one of the most comedic yet (in both the literal and classic senses of the word). Powell's critics have bristled at the way in which the novelist so overtly stage manages the reintroduction of his hundreds of characters. And, to be fair, they have a point. Whenever a new figure enters a room, or someone gets engaged to a figure unknown, it's always likely to be someone we've met before. Nick's life has become a series of creative coincidences. But... Powell does it so well! And it's worth it for the way in which these figures shift and change with the years, grow or retreat, ascend or fall. No doubt war will bring great horrors for our endless cast of characters, but I also have faith in Powell to ring the changes with meticulous craftsmanship. The dance metaphor is, naturally, what people think of when they speak of these volumes, but I'm reminded of a quote from Hugh Moreland in this novel: "Valéry asks why one has been summoned to this carnival... but it's more like blind man's buff." I'm reminded of a carnival more and more. Figures in Venetian masks; old friends appearing from the mist; other friends being lost to the haunted castle or the tunnel of love. And now, the lights of the ferris wheel are to be blacked out. The carnival of Europe, it seems, is over.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Catullus2

    Goes back to his childhood and then into the beginning of WWII. Genius.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    When the furies arrive, the spiritual and artistic stutter, men of action take command.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paola

    This volume opens and close with war: the great war, that closes up the flashback to Nicholas' childhood, and the WWII which is at this stage luring in almost everyone, ready to serve for king and country. In Nick's childhood home we see more of the “upstairs-downstairs” relationships in a middle class household - not a grand one, that of a military man who can however support a housemaid, a cook, a gardener, a nurse, a parlourmaid and a butler. Yet it is a poor man’s version of the good life, an This volume opens and close with war: the great war, that closes up the flashback to Nicholas' childhood, and the WWII which is at this stage luring in almost everyone, ready to serve for king and country. In Nick's childhood home we see more of the “upstairs-downstairs” relationships in a middle class household - not a grand one, that of a military man who can however support a housemaid, a cook, a gardener, a nurse, a parlourmaid and a butler. Yet it is a poor man’s version of the good life, and even the occasional fox-hunting expedition in dreary settings ends up in failure. The spotlight is firmly on the provincial life (which can support the odd personality, Dr Trevelyan being a case in point), suddenly called to a halt by the start of the great war: war had come for most people utterly without warning-like being pushed suddenly on a winter’s day into a swirling whirlpool of ice-cold water by an acquaintance, unpredictable perhaps, but not actively homicidal – war was now materialising in slow motion. Like one of the Stonehurst ‘ghosts’, war towered by the bed when you awoke in the morning; unlike those more transient, more accommodating spectres, its tall form, so far from dissolving immediately, remained, on the contrary, a looming, menacing shape of ever greater height, ever thickening density. The grey, flickering sequences of the screen showed with increased persistence close-ups of stocky demagogues, fuming, gesticulating, stamping; oceans of raised forearms; steel-helmeted men tramping in column; armoured vehicles rumbling over the pavé of broad boulevards. Crisis was unremitting, cataclysm not long to be delayed. Fast forward a couple of decades, and now Nick and his circle are in a different phase in life - the main theme here seems to be disappointment. Those ambitions and aspirations nourished earlier in life mostly start to unravel for all - it is not the flings, but those that looked like solid relationships which start to crumble, and so do some careers (Matty), while others still stutter and cannot seem to flourish. And so life seem to be going around in circles, with the impending war adding to the uncertainty and the restlessness. I still find it hard to figure out what Nick feels, but he is as observant as ever: of Dr Trelawney he notes that there was something decidedly unpleasant about him, sinister, at the same time absurd, that combination of the ludicrous and alarming soon to be widely experienced by contact with those set in authority in wartime while Erridge is a rebel whose life had been exasperatingly lacking in persecution Still witty and funny, yet the impending doom is now palpable - and I am hooked!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mario Hinksman

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Fantastic. A culmination of the 'summer' season of three books, from the 'year' of twelve. For me, this was the strongest book so far although in part due to the groundwork set out in earlier books. 'The Kindly Ones' is a potentially misleading title actually referring to a euphemism in Greek mythology applied to the furies and one that is designed to appease them. The principal furies encountered are war and the impact of other people's problems. The book's first chapter is a step back in time to Fantastic. A culmination of the 'summer' season of three books, from the 'year' of twelve. For me, this was the strongest book so far although in part due to the groundwork set out in earlier books. 'The Kindly Ones' is a potentially misleading title actually referring to a euphemism in Greek mythology applied to the furies and one that is designed to appease them. The principal furies encountered are war and the impact of other people's problems. The book's first chapter is a step back in time to just before WWI and Nicholas Jenkins' boyhood experience in a house that included many servants, most with peculiarities. The sinister Dr. Trelawney, referenced earlier, is captured in far more detail as he leads a cult like movement and its 'disciples' around the countryside close to Nick's home. The much maligned Uncle Giles is still not understood and even dies at an 'inconvenient' time as the book leaps forward to the eve of WWII. There is a growing sense of dread through 'Munich' and in the year that follows. The scene in the seaside hotel run by Nick's former family cook is particularly strong. Only when war breaks out is there is a sense of relief and various characters seem to find their purpose and calling in these circumstances. Widmerpool returns to the narrative in force and for one who a few years earlier proposed giving Goering 'the garter' and showing him around Buckingham Palace now enters the war as an unlikely soldier, bombastic with his military power as a Captain largely doing administrative roles. The impact of Time becomes ever clearer as characters change, decline or grow under its effects. Deaths accelerate and although still in his thirties, Nick is aware he is no longer 'young', certainly when it comes to options for a military role which he seeks once war breaks out. As always Nick's own family life is portrayed in minimal detail. We do learn that his wife is expecting a baby and is evacuated from London as war breaks out. Nick is a less dispassionate figure than in earlier books and more freely expresses annoyance with or various degrees of dislike towards some of the less appealing characters. Those who once had servants in abundance now apologise for having to open their own front doors. Large country houses and castles are taken over by the government in the war effort. There is a clear sense that life will never be the same again and 'summer' draws to a close.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Realini

    The Kindly Ones by Anthony Powell With The Kindly Ones I have reached the middle of A Dance To The Music Of Time, the epic work of Anthony Powell. Why is it called The Kindly Ones? “The Greeks, because they feared the Furies, had named them the Eumenides, “The Kindly Ones „flattery intended to appease their wrath…” Even if war is looming over the atmosphere of this volume, the sixth in a long but splendid book, there are hilarious passages. Humor is one of the aspects I like most in Powell’s six v The Kindly Ones by Anthony Powell With The Kindly Ones I have reached the middle of A Dance To The Music Of Time, the epic work of Anthony Powell. Why is it called The Kindly Ones? “The Greeks, because they feared the Furies, had named them the Eumenides, “The Kindly Ones „flattery intended to appease their wrath…” Even if war is looming over the atmosphere of this volume, the sixth in a long but splendid book, there are hilarious passages. Humor is one of the aspects I like most in Powell’s six volumes that I’ve read so far. We are introduced to a new, rather comic character, although a girl commits suicide because of him. Doctor Trelawney is the self imposed leader of a kind of cult, which happens to be located near the childhood residence of our hero, who is based on the author of the book. Members greet each other with a pompous or deep, depending on how you look at it: “ “The Essence of the All is the Godhead of the True” To this the response is: “The Vision of Visions heals the Blindness of Sight” I found that comic, but you may think it cosmic. Only half way through the monumental A Dance To The Music Of Time, we are introduced to memories of the childhood of our lead character. The place was haunted by ghosts and this seems to confirm that the supernatural, the unexplained, L'au-delà is a recurring theme with Powell. What I liked most in the first part is the apparition of the naked servant, in the drawing room, right when the family is receiving some rather important guests. Mother Jenkins thought of the end of the world, when the dead are resurrected and we all come to confront our Maker (if we have One) with the clothes he provided for us when we were born. Another highlight of this volume was the representation of the Seven Deadly Sins. The second part of A Dance To The Music Of Time might be gloomier, if we consider the fact that war is breaking out and the next volume is called The Valley of Bones…

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nik Morton

    Anthony Powell’s sixth volume in his Dance to the Music of Time sequence, The Kindly Ones, was published in 1962 and is the best so far, covering the periods 1914, the late 1920s and the late 1930s. Possibly it grabs interest because Powell begins by relating Nick Jenkins’s childhood in Stonehurst; this goes some way to personalise the first-person narrative, which hitherto seems to have been lacking in the earlier volumes. We’re first introduced to Albert, the Jenkins’s manservant/butler, a fasc Anthony Powell’s sixth volume in his Dance to the Music of Time sequence, The Kindly Ones, was published in 1962 and is the best so far, covering the periods 1914, the late 1920s and the late 1930s. Possibly it grabs interest because Powell begins by relating Nick Jenkins’s childhood in Stonehurst; this goes some way to personalise the first-person narrative, which hitherto seems to have been lacking in the earlier volumes. We’re first introduced to Albert, the Jenkins’s manservant/butler, a fascinating creation, ‘an oddity, an exceptional member of the household’…’Albert shook off one of his ancient bedroom slippers, adjusting the thick black woollen sock at the apex of the foot, where, not over clean, the nail of a big toe protruded from a hole at the end. (p10) Albert was not enamoured of the suffragettes, referring to them as ‘Virgin Marys’. Nick recalled his house tutor Miss Orchard telling him about the Greeks who feared the Furies, which they named the Eumenides – the Kindly Ones – using such ‘flattery to appease their terrible wrath’ (p6) and supposed Albert employed similar flattery, since he feared these emboldened women. Other servants in the household include Billson, fostering unrequited love for Albert and young Bracey, subject to ‘funny turns’. Billson claimed she’d seen a ghost more than once, and Nick’s mother commented, ‘It really is not fair on servants to expect them to sleep in a haunted room, although I have to myself.’ (pp60/61) Later, Billson suffers a mental breakdown, partly due to the persistence of the ghosts and also due to the fact that Albert had declared his love elsewhere, to a woman in Bristol: she appeared nude in the dining room in front of Mr and Mrs Jenkins and their guests, General Conyers and his wife. This is a poignant scene, where Conyers acted swiftly and snagged a shawl and ‘wrapped the shawl protectively round her.’ (p64) The interaction between the members of the household proves amusing and intriguing. ‘As a child you are in some ways more acutely aware of what people feel about one another than you are when childhood has come to an end.’ (p22) This is shrewd observation, and is emphasised by ‘I was aware that I had witnessed a painful scene, although, as so often happens in childhood, I could not analyse the circumstances.’ (p47) We also get to know Nick’s father, at least a little. ‘For my father all tragedies were major tragedies, this being especially his conviction if he were himself in any way concerned. (p30) Mr Jenkins made the observation, ‘I like to rest my mind after work. I don’t like books that make me think.’ (p40) He ‘really hated clarity.’ (p48) What is surprising is how echoes from this period (in the novel) or from the time of its creation, there resonates observations that still hold true in the twenty-first century: ‘… the light of reason or patriotism could penetrate, in however humble a degree, into the treasonable madhouse of the Treasury, did not answer.’ (p58) As the Conyers are about to leave Stonehurst, two individuals make their appearance, both unexpected: Uncle Giles who observes about the General’s automobile, ‘Not too keen on ’em. Always in accidents. Some royalty in a motor-car have been involved in a nasty affair today…’ (p72) The assassination of Franz-Ferdinand and his wife, no less... The other person arrived while running with his pupils, Dr Trelawney, who espoused that ‘The Essence of the All is the Godhead of the True.’ (p66) We leap ahead in time, when Nick admits his ‘more modest ambition… is to become a soldier.’ This is quite a revelation, I don’t recall any indications of this before. He befriends Mortimer (who we have met in an earlier volume) and they have shared likes and dislikes: ‘There were also aesthetic prejudices in common: animosity towards R.M. Ballantynes The Coral Island…’ (P85) [Well, sorry, Nick or Mr Powell, I read this as a youngster and thought it was a gripping and exciting adventure story and hold no animosity towards it at all! It’s a book of its time.] Later, when Trelawney is discussed, there’s an amusing aside: ‘… he must have moved further to the Left – or would it be to the Right? Extremes of policy have such a tendency to merge.’ Another shrewd observation! Lock up or eliminate the opposition… That’s why they’re extreme? At one point, he pontificates: ‘There is no death in Nature, only transition, blending, synthesis, mutation.’ (p197) We’re in the time of ‘Munich’, the appeasement. And Nick’s wife Isobel ‘was starting a baby. Circumstances were not ideal for a pregnancy. Apart from unsettled international conditions, the weather was too hot…’ (p150) Strange, to take into consideration the international state of affairs when deciding on having a family; he’s being humorous, of course. Fellow writers might be amused at Nick relating details about his career to Duport, a man he cuckolded: ‘writing; editing, reviewing… never, for some reason, very easy to define to persons not themselves in the world.’ (p169) Nick learns that Duport’s wife Jean had not only cheated on her husband but also betrayed Nick as well… Certainly, one of the underlying themes in the books is the duplicitous nature of women and wives. ‘The remembered moaning in pleasure of someone once loved always haunts the memory, even when love itself is over.’ (p183) As we approach the end of the book, we’re in the company of Kenneth Widmerpool and his mother again. Nick refers to Widmerpool as a Happy Warrior (p243), alluding to a Wordsworth poem; among other things, it’s also the title of an excellent graphic biography of Churchill drawn by Frank Bellamy. Powell injects a number of enlightening truisms, usually through other characters’ speech, some highlighted already. Here’s another: ‘One of the worst things about life is not how nasty the nasty people are. You know that already. It is how nasty the nice people can be.’ (p247) There were more humorous and poignant moments than hitherto in the series. And the neat ending, where it’s contrived that Nick will, against the odds, be signed up in the Infantry, works very well; so well, in fact, that the reader wants to move on to the next book (which must have been frustrating, since that – The Valley of Bones – didn’t appear for two years). I’m glad I’ve persevered with the series.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Renee M

    I very much enjoyed this new chapter of Nick's life and observations. I love the way it started with a chapter from his past, from just before WW I, and ended in the period before WW II. Initially, I was confused by the flashback but it proved to be a perfect way to begin. Several new and unique characters appear, and several reappear after long absence. Plus, there are a few revelations that take Nick (and the reader) by surprise. But each is handled beautifully and mined for resonance. This ma I very much enjoyed this new chapter of Nick's life and observations. I love the way it started with a chapter from his past, from just before WW I, and ended in the period before WW II. Initially, I was confused by the flashback but it proved to be a perfect way to begin. Several new and unique characters appear, and several reappear after long absence. Plus, there are a few revelations that take Nick (and the reader) by surprise. But each is handled beautifully and mined for resonance. This marks the end of the Second Movement. I look forward to continuing the series, but I do feel some trepidation as to how they will all fare in the coming war. I've become attached to them all. Even the prickly ones.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    More of the same from Powell and thank goodness for that. Everyone is jostling for position as war becomes a reality; Uncle Giles' demise leads to a seaside encounter with Bob Duport. All is set in the context of the eponymous Furies, as memories of childhood and thwarted relationships between servants are recalled. There is a marvellous quote on the back cover blurb of my edition to the effect that when you emerge from reading Powell it seems that no one else is writing English any more.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    "One of the worst things about life is not how nasty the nasty people are. You know that already. It is how nasty the nice people can be."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    As I believe I’ve mentioned before, since I began this reading project, I get asked regularly what book I am reading and what I think of it. Earlier this week, I met a friend for lunch, and as we were leaving, she nodded to the book in my hand and asked what I was reading. “The Kindly Ones, by Anthony Powell,” I said, holding up the book. “Hmm,” she replied, which I took to mean that she had never heard of it (before this list, neither had I). “Is it good?” And for a moment I was stuck on what t As I believe I’ve mentioned before, since I began this reading project, I get asked regularly what book I am reading and what I think of it. Earlier this week, I met a friend for lunch, and as we were leaving, she nodded to the book in my hand and asked what I was reading. “The Kindly Ones, by Anthony Powell,” I said, holding up the book. “Hmm,” she replied, which I took to mean that she had never heard of it (before this list, neither had I). “Is it good?” And for a moment I was stuck on what to answer, because as I was about to say “Excellent!” I realized that she might take the recommendation seriously and seek out the book, which made me consider whether I would recommend the book to her. I don’t know enough about her reading tastes to be able to predict if she would enjoy the type of story that Powell is telling in this novel and the series of which it is a part. My hesitance had to do with how unusual A Dance to the Music of Time is as a series. The twelve books, published between 1951 and 1975, are an attempt at an unusual way to escape the tyranny of “plot” in writing a novel. Here’s a passage from an interview with Powell that I quoted before in which he explains the impetus for the series: “Well, this is rather a long story. You see I haven't any great talent for inventing plots, and indeed it seems to me that even the best writers are inclined to churn out the same stuff in eighty thousand words, although it's dressed up in a different way. And so I thought that there would be all sorts of advantages for a writer like myself to write a really long novel in which plots and characters could be developed, which would cover this question of not doing short-term plots—doing rather larger ones, in fact.” So when I explained to my friend that the novel was the sixth novel in a series of twelve that followed the narrator and the various people that come in and out of his life over a 40 year period from college days, through World War II, to post war Britain, she looked about as excited about the novel as she was about the pickle left sitting on her sandwich plate after lunch. And who can blame her? It does sound rather dry and uninteresting, and after I read the first book, A Question of Upbringing, I was not exactly excited to pick up future volumes. But what is achieved over time is nothing short of mesmerizing for me. You never know which characters will crop up in that particular novel, or which new characters will be coming back later. Characters you had long forgotten about return in unexpected ways, and because Powell is playing the long game, the characters can grow and evolve and have contradictions. In fact, Nick Jenkins, our narrator, is keen to simultaneously attempt to sketch a character and to let you know that he may not know what he’s talking about, because life and people are complicated. At one point, Moreland, Nick’s musician friend, meets Templer, an old school friend of Nick’s, and Nick can read Moreland’s attitude toward Templer: “Moreland could never get used to the fact that most people – in this particular case, Templer – lead lives in which the arts play no part whatsoever. That is perhaps an exaggeration of Moreland’s attitude. All the same, he always found difficulty in accustoming himself to complete aesthetic indifference.” In a 300 page novel, an author can be in a hurry to define a character as quickly as possible, falling on stereotypes and characterization to do a lot of the work of character-building. In the leisurely storytelling that Powell adopts in this series, he has the time to admit that his attempt at characterization “is perhaps an exaggeration.” In another case, he’ll follow up a brief analysis with “at least those were the reasons attributed by his brothers and sisters,” admitting that he doesn’t actually have any ability to look into the soul of another human being. And human beings are exactly what Powell seems to be able to create in his method. This series is as close as you can get to watching life itself unfold under the illuminating light of art. It is as grand an epic as Lord of the Rings, but it the epic of life itself, common, everyday life. Each individual volume tries to capture a slightly different stage in life, and Powell unifies the smaller stories through thematic concerns at that stage of life. In The Kindly Ones, Nick is in his early thirties, married, with a baby on the way and World War II looming like a dark cloud threatening to let loose a torrent without a moment’s notice. Nick, who works as a writer, has a hard time concentrating on art or his job with all the global concerns, and the novel focuses on the dissolution of fragile peaces and uneasy allies. The analogies for Europe’s strife are found in the marriages and love triangles that dot the stories unfolded in the four chapters of the novel: Albert, Billson, & Bracey; Templer, Stepney, & Betty; Donners, Matilda, & Moreland; Nick, Jean, & Duport; Donners, Widmerpool, & Duport. With these shifting relationships running parallel with Hitler’s signing a pact with Russia, there is also the theme of “the man of action,” who can be either one looking for adventure or one not unwilling to take an adventure presented to him. The question of whether or not there will be war makes the United Kingdom a character in itself; will it be a man of action who takes matters into its hands and accepts the “adventure” of war that is thrust upon it? Some volumes in The Dance to the Music of Time are more gripping and more rewarding than others, and The Kindly Ones is one of the most engaging so far. Powell has a gentle hand and finds humor and pain in the subtlest places. The story feels focused and unified, and the shadow of war is artfully portrayed so that the simple doings of these disparate folks feel like the inhalation and exhalation of life itself. I don’t know if I’d recommend the series to any of my friends, but that's only because I imagine such a large undertaking would not appeal to many people. Nevertheless, wading through these novels is an experience that I am very glad to have undergone.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    When we last left Anthony Powell's 12-volume work "A Dance to the Music of Time", we were in the late 1930s and steadily approaching the outbreak of the Second World War. THE KINDLY ONES, the sixth novel in the sequence, unexpectedly opens with a flashback to the start of the First. In 1914, Nicholas Jenkins is an eight or nine year-old, living in a rented manor in the countryside where his father is stationed. For some fifty pages, we follow some disputes and love affairs among the family's ser When we last left Anthony Powell's 12-volume work "A Dance to the Music of Time", we were in the late 1930s and steadily approaching the outbreak of the Second World War. THE KINDLY ONES, the sixth novel in the sequence, unexpectedly opens with a flashback to the start of the First. In 1914, Nicholas Jenkins is an eight or nine year-old, living in a rented manor in the countryside where his father is stationed. For some fifty pages, we follow some disputes and love affairs among the family's servants, until an offhand mention that Archduke Ferdinand has just been assassinated casts a shadow over Jenkins' youth. THE KINDLY ONES then returns to where the Dance had left off. In late 1938 Jenkins visits Stourwater again and several old acquaintances reappear. An elderly character dies and Jenkins must sort out his belongings. A drunken Bob Duport makes some uncomfortable revelations after Jean Templer's life during her affair with Nick almost a decade earlier. Finally, the start of World War II pushes every adult member of society into some new job. The pervading sentiment of THE KINDLY ONES is melancholy and wistfulness. Jenkins' perusal of the documents of a deceased relative offer a sad meditation on the mounting failures of one's life. The Seven Deadly Sins tableaux introduced here reduces the characters to grotesque caricatures and plays a role in a later volume of the Dance, where it is shown as a symbol of a bygone era. Although the flashback fills in some of Nicholas Jenkins' past, he remains an enigmatic narrator, reporting the events around him in great detail but never betraying much of his own feelings. As the novel comes to an end, he is desperate to find some way into the army, but why he wants to join is a mystery (adventure? serving his country? not looking like an intellectual layabout?). There is twice mention that wife Isobel is expecting a child, but I don't expect to hear much about the raising of a family in the next volume. But the novel does encompass much more than the aristocratic rounds of the previous volumes, and we do enter among some of the lower classes. When I started THE KINDLY ONES, I found the 1914 flashback to be slow-going, and I thought this was going to be one of the lesser volumes in the Dance. By the end of the novel, I was convinced that the flashback has its place in the novel's overall feeling of melancholy. Powell's particular generation had a rough time of it, living through two outbreaks of total war that decimated their families and acquaintances. It's not all poignant reflections, though. There continue to be moments of great humour here, such as a charismatic cult leader who speaks in pretentious riddles, or Widmerpool's buffoonish transition to full-time soldier. With every volume read, I look ever more forward to moving onto the rest of the sequence. This is a moving chronicle of an entire generation.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David Mcangus

    Change is afoot. This has been true throughout The Dance. But in The Kindly Ones, disorder looms over the characters, both in the form of the increased march towards war and the final goodbye to the last remnants of youth. Powell seems to focus specifically on the loss of innocence during this instalment. Nick's memories from his early childhood feature here for the first time and paint a picture of eccentric wonder, rendered specifically in the character of Dr. Trelawney. This aspect of British Change is afoot. This has been true throughout The Dance. But in The Kindly Ones, disorder looms over the characters, both in the form of the increased march towards war and the final goodbye to the last remnants of youth. Powell seems to focus specifically on the loss of innocence during this instalment. Nick's memories from his early childhood feature here for the first time and paint a picture of eccentric wonder, rendered specifically in the character of Dr. Trelawney. This aspect of British culture was effectively crushed after enduring two devastating wars and perhaps is unlikely to return. The choice to include this new character, Dr. Trelawney, is an interesting one on Powell's part. The influence for his construction is clearly based on one my personal heroes, Aleister Crowley. Prior to the war, Crowley was seen by the popular press as the embodiment of evil. Admittedly, AC went some way in trying to secure such a lofty title for himself in much the same way people try to gain publicity now. But once the war hit, any notion of him epitomising the darkest representations of humanity was correctly forgotten. Witnessing the true madness of Hitler's refined egomania, removed any previous fears of people pursuing unorthodox spiritual paths. This theme of how perspective changes with the erosion of time, marks itself on the characters lives. Those once loved, are now not. Friendships once strong, now are broken. Perhaps for the first time, Nick too is affected by this. I feel we as readers get to know our narrator here better than any time before. He shows greater willingness to let his guard down and reveal his disturbances. That he absolutely, totally, seriously-man: is over Jean. His fears about work, loneliness, family and of course the war, are all referenced here and I feel I've finally started to understand the character I've spent six books with. If The Kindly Ones is a reflection of the later books in this movement. It should be very interesting indeed to see where The Dance takes our characters next.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I finally made it through the midpoint of A Dance to the Music of Time. It's a good feeling to have made it this far and even better to know that I still have six more books following the eccentric friends of Nick Jenkins. I take whatever book I'm reading with me everywhere that I expect to have any amount of free time. Because of this I get people asking me what I am reading. I answer and the natural question is, "I've never heard of it, what's it about?". I find myself unable to give a good an I finally made it through the midpoint of A Dance to the Music of Time. It's a good feeling to have made it this far and even better to know that I still have six more books following the eccentric friends of Nick Jenkins. I take whatever book I'm reading with me everywhere that I expect to have any amount of free time. Because of this I get people asking me what I am reading. I answer and the natural question is, "I've never heard of it, what's it about?". I find myself unable to give a good answer to this question. Usually it goes something like this, "It's about this guy--- well it's not really about him... it's more about his relationships different people through his life. You don't really know much about him, but in a way you do... It's kind of hard to explain". And it is hard to explain. At it's core the books really are about relationships. The idiosyncracies of them, the way they seem to overlap in unexpected ways and how some seem to change with every season and some just endure and endure with or without reason. This sixth book in the long narration continues this trend. It continues the connection with Nick's musician friend Moreland and his wife. It also takes an unexpected turn, right at the beginning in fact, by going back some years to Nick's childhood just before the first world war. We finally got to hear more than just mentions of Nick's parents for the first time and the events to come later in the book involving the start of the second world war are foreshadowed with a parallel discourse of the first. This part of the book for me is, although entertaining as usual, the reason why it claimed four instead of five stars. Until Uncle Gile's appearance it was a bit anticlimactic to me. Perhaps it was just the change of pace that threw me for a loop. The rest of the book continues with the accustomed pattern. It has the same subtle wit and humor as it's predecessors. It leaves me wanting to march right into the next book and the impending war.

  29. 4 out of 5

    max

    This sixth installment in the Dance to the Music of Time sequence is the first to really delve into Nick’s childhood, taking a sustained look at the household of his upbringing, including his father’s military manners, the servants and their preoccupations, a few of the neighbors, and the rare visitors to the somewhat inaccessible abode. Honestly, what took Powell so long? Couldn’t some of this material be placed in one of the previous five books? Nevertheless, if the timing of this backstory se This sixth installment in the Dance to the Music of Time sequence is the first to really delve into Nick’s childhood, taking a sustained look at the household of his upbringing, including his father’s military manners, the servants and their preoccupations, a few of the neighbors, and the rare visitors to the somewhat inaccessible abode. Honestly, what took Powell so long? Couldn’t some of this material be placed in one of the previous five books? Nevertheless, if the timing of this backstory seems somewhat arbitrary, better late than never. It’s very enjoyable and Powell interlaces background and foreground together cohesively. Uncle Giles and his mystical interests furnish recurring dramatic and thematic elements, giving this novel perhaps more suspense and imperative than previous works. Powell continues to reward his readers for sticking with him, reintroducing Templer and other central cast members, while giving Moreland a second go after his star turn in the previous volume. More than ever, Hitler and war grow in portent and Powell applies the chiaroscuro via conversations on the occult, the hint of panic amidst small talk, and the growing march of military themes and characters. In the midst of this, Powell executes a set-piece at Magnus Donners’ mansion, creating echoes back to earlier novels while delivering considerable parodic bite with a side of the ekphrastic. This scene is the finest yet in all of the Dance. If there were doubts from the previous novel about Powell’s powers, this installment puts them to rest. With a mature cast of characters to work with and established biographies, Powell casts a spell.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    So, after a slight sense of disappointment with Book 5 - a feeling that that novel had been a touch bogus and by-the-numbers - we're back with Jenkins and his observant murmurings. There's a promising change of pace from the outset with a return to the Jenkins house around the outbreak of WWI and that's enough to rekindle the flames of our roman fleuve-reader relationship. Jenkins now gets to do his musing with more depth to the timeframe and we get a few more crumbs of his upper crust slightly So, after a slight sense of disappointment with Book 5 - a feeling that that novel had been a touch bogus and by-the-numbers - we're back with Jenkins and his observant murmurings. There's a promising change of pace from the outset with a return to the Jenkins house around the outbreak of WWI and that's enough to rekindle the flames of our roman fleuve-reader relationship. Jenkins now gets to do his musing with more depth to the timeframe and we get a few more crumbs of his upper crust slightly bohemian soul. There's also an oddball cult leader figure (and a plot point for said leader's catchphrase), a meeting with Bob Duport (in which Jenkins gets an ego slap) and an appearance by Widmerpool in uniform (!) Rendered winningly, these twelve 200 page or so novels encapsulate both the 20th century march of movements and Britain's ongoing search for grace in the face of post-Empire decline. A story from the point of view of, say, militant workers would have other connotations: here the main theme is that privilege brings its own pitfalls, the desire to do something is paramount, and the remittance life is really just a form of purgatory, since one's purpose is one's main (if not only) source of redemption. Rather like the lesson faced by Britain as the 20th century clanked on. Powell's prose is both clean and serpentine, ideally adapted to the musing style of Jenkins, and the momentum gained by the series is palpable. Halfway there, only six books to go!

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