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Book 1 of “A Dance”: A Question of Upbringing

At the first of the year, I told you I was proclaiming 2012 as “The Year of The Dance.” The thought being that I, along with you if you are so interested, will read through Anthony Powell’s behemoth 3,000 page novel, A Dance To The Music Of Time.

With the novel being broken into 12 separate “books,” I think it’s totally doable in one year. So I’m simply reading one book a month.

With that, today’s post is my brief look back at the first book in this series. If Time wants to consider Dance as one book on their list, then that would make A Question of Upbringing the first chapter. A 230 page chapter at that.

Set in England, the story covers the last year(ish) of schooling for the narrator, Nick Jenkins, and two of his close friends, Peter Templer and Charles Stringham. There’s also an eccentric guy named Widmerpool who comes in and out of the story.

This first book just explores these characters and the dynamics of their relationship with each other as maturing young men about to go to college.  Since Powell is writing a 3,000+ page story here, he really is setting the table for what’s to come.

That’s why there’s not a lot of action in this book, little plot, but I’ve already begun to grow fond of some of these characters and their quirks. After a little research on the book, I found that each of the four main characters falls into the role of “the cynic,” “the artist,” “the romantic,” and “the man of will.”

There’s also the teacher Le Bas, who gets the practical joke treatment by Stringham. Nick’s Uncle Giles is a classic character—the type of family member who shows up only when he needs something. In this case, Uncle Giles is very interested in Nick’s inheritance money.

The book is simple and straightforward. Four chapters that cover four different events–school, a social party, a holiday in France, and the early part of college for these four kids.

How will these characters play out over the course of 12 books? Who knows.

It’s hard to really go into detail about this book, as it seems to really have just scratched the surface. That said, with all of the books from Dance, I’ll probably make a much shorter review than usual, then come up with some type of comprehensive review when I’m finished at the end of the year. In sum, I’m not blown away at this point, but I understand that this is the first mile of a marathon.

I know a few of you decided to take the plunge with this novel. How’s it going?

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Patti #

    I’m only a little way in, but I am enjoying it. I did have to recalibrate my reading pace – or something like that – the prose is very dense, not in a bad way, but there are definitely a lot of words. But I suppose that’s why I’m getting some very precise pictures of the characters, even though not a lot is happening.


    January 31, 2012
    • He’s a bit wordy, yes. Plus, the characters get into dramatics over the most minute issue. But I guess that’s why they are teens.


      January 31, 2012
      • Patti #

        Yes! After one drawn-out dramatic exchange, I had trouble reminding myself that these were kids who were talking.


        January 31, 2012
  2. I like them. I’ll probably read them much more quickly than 1 per month just to keep the story fresh in my mind.


    January 31, 2012
  3. nikewrites #

    Interesting….I may be adventurous and follow along!


    January 31, 2012
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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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