43. A Dance to the Music of Time: A Buyer's Market by Anthony Powell

Year Published: 1952
Pages: 274
First Sentence: The last time I saw any examples of Mr. Deacon's work was at a sale, held obscurely in the neighbourhood of Euston Road, many years after his death.
Rating: 2/3 (meh)


Well, that was quick. The rating I gave to A Question of Upbringing may not have felt too high when I was writing my review, but as I read A Buyer's Market, the second book in Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time (ADttMoT), I began to have my doubts. As I mentioned in the previous review, I had a feeling that the "rich white guy" nature of the narrative would get on my nerves. I had no idea how quickly.

And it's a bit disingenuous to blame that by itself. I'll tell you what the book is about first.

Our narrator, Jenkins, is a young man working for a small art book publisher. He wants to get laid, but he's pretty conventional and still primarily an observer in the story that he's telling. Over the course of the book, he goes to a dance and finds that Widmerpool has been invited to the same pre-dance dinner. At the dance, a girl named Barbara (who Jenkins and Widmerpool both have a thing for) dumps a dish of sugar on Widmerpool's head, and Jenkins and Widmerpool end up leaving the dance at the same time. During their late night walk, they run into an old friend of Jenkins' parents', called Mr. Deacon. Mr. Deacon is out distributing anti-war pamphlets with a young woman named Gypsy Jones. The four of them then proceed to run into Charles Stringham, who brings them all along to a party.


Peter Templer doesn't appear in this book, although his sister Jean does.

I say "etc." because the reason that I found the previous/first book in this series so entertaining was the promise of more to come. Powell's observations are astute and his foreshadowing is spectacular, and I can only imagine that really plumbing the depths of this entire series would be really rewarding. For some readers.

For me, though? After reading a little past the halfway point of this book, I decided to look up some plot summaries of the future books in the series, and didn't find anything there particularly compelling. My main problem is that life is short, and rather than pushing through this series, what I'd rather do is try out some other book series that I might give me more immediate enjoyment. I believe in reading difficult books (if I didn't, I wouldn't've stuck with this project as long as I have) but there are limits.

My apologies for such a lackadaisical review. This is where I leave ADttMoT for now.

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This affair with Barbara, although taking up less than a year, seemed already to have occupied a substantial proportion of my life; because nothing establishes the timelessness of Time like those episodes of early experience seen, on reexamination at a later period, to have been crowded together with such unbelievable closeness in the course of a few years; yet equally giving the illusion of being so infinitely extended during the months when actually taking place.
- - - - -
There is, or at least, should be, a fitness in the follies each individual pursues, and uniformity of pattern is, on the whole, rightly preserved in human behaviour. Such unwritten regulations seemed now to have been disregarded wholesale.
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  1. I did not really enjoy the first three volumes (movements) of aDttMoT, and would ordinarily have quit long ago...but for this quest thingy I'm on. Anyway, I was prepared to write a "meh" review for the whole thing, when finally...the final book in the final volume...made it all interesting. Still, a bit too much investment for the reward, but it did boost my overall rating a bit. https://100greatestnovelsofalltimequest.blogspot.com/2018/06/a-dance-to-music-of-time-by-anthony.html

    1. Looking forward to reading your review! I had a feeling it would all come together. Maybe someday I'll revisit the series...?