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"The Acceptance World" by Anthony Powell

Acceptance World - Anthony Powell

"A Dance to the Music of Time" is a twelve-volume cycle of novels by Anthony Powell, and "The Acceptance World" is the third of the twelve volumes.

The twelve books of "A Dance to the Music of Time" are available individually or as four volumes.

A Question of Upbringing – (1951)
A Buyer's Market – (1952)
The Acceptance World – (1955)

At Lady Molly's – (1957)
Casanova's Chinese Restaurant – (1960)
The Kindly Ones – (1962)

The Valley of Bones – (1964)
The Soldier's Art – (1966)
The Military Philosophers – (1968)

Books Do Furnish a Room – (1971)
Temporary Kings – (1973)
Hearing Secret Harmonies – (1975)

(dates are first UK publication dates) 

Ten years on from the start of A Question of Upbringing, which starts with narrator Nick Jenkins recounting his last few years at public school, The Acceptance World begins in London in 1931. The recurring characters have all undergone significant change. Some that seemed to have the world at their feet have squandered their gifts, whilst others who were more pitiful in their younger incarnations are enjoying success. 

The economic gloom that characterised the 1930s seems to permeate this part of "A Dance to the Music of Time", despite this, The Acceptance World is supremely enjoyable. 

This volume introduces a hint of mysticism, a new character called Myra Erdleigh tells Nicks fortune through the ancient practice of cartomancy (reading ordinary playing cards) and, later in the story, there is an incident with a planchette. I'd never heard of them before but apparently planchettes came to prominence in the years following the establishment of Spiritualism in America in the mid-nineteenth century, kick starting a craze for supernaturally tinged parlour games, séances etc. that must have continued into the early 1930s (probably with a resurgence after World War One).

The Acceptance World is certainly the most dramatic volume so far, with a merry-go-round of relationship change. Almost as soon two disparate characters meet there's a likelihood of a change in relationship status in the offing. 

As I work through the series it is becoming clearer how some of what happens in the early stages, sets up the Dance as we move forward in time. This is making the series progressively more enjoyable and compelling. I raced through The Acceptance World such was my enjoyment. I've enjoyed all of the first three volumes however this is the most enjoyable so far. 

I encourage anyone who starts the series, and is unsure about whether to commit, to stick with it. It becomes ever more enjoyable and rewarding.

My other tip is to refer to AnthonyPowell.org where there are lists that help the reader to keep track of who is who, along with a synopsis of every volume, along with interesting and insightful essays.

I rated A Question of Upbringing (Volume 1) and A Buyer's Market (Volume 2) as 4 star books. The Acceptance World(Volume 3) is a 5 star read. It's wonderful.


Click here to see my review of A Question of Upbringing (A Dance to the Music of Time #1)

Click here to see my review of A Buyer's Market (A Dance to the Music of Time #2)