Anthony Powell’s brilliant twelve-novel sequence chronicles the lives of over three hundred characters, and is a unique evocation of life in twentieth-century England. It is unrivalled for its scope, its humour and the enormous pleasure it has given to generations.
These first three novels in the sequence follow Nicholas Jenkins, Kenneth Widmerpool and others, as they negotiate the intellectual, cultural and social hurdles which stand between them and the ‘Acceptance World’.
This first omnibus contains the books A Question of Upbringing, A Buyer’s Market, and The Acceptance World; and is a thoroughly captivating start to a series that promises to yield so much in the way of pleasurable reading.
Straight away it grabbed me, with its meditations on life which, those of which only become evident as one reminisces of times past. This is where the reader’s journey begins, with the narrator Nicholas Jenkins recalling thoughts of times long ago; his coming of age in which he is almost a passive character in all matters.
As we are led through this life with the aid of rich writing, characters frequently disappear and reappear in unexpected combinations and when least expected. This continual turnover keeps the books fresh and by the end I appreciated so many characters due to Powell’s perfect observances on the idiosyncracies of his fellow humans.
The central idea of the series is that life is a cycle of stages played out through a web of interconnections where people and places come together and split apart in a dance through life which only becomes clear as we progress further through this ceremony. Read the rest of this entry »