At Lady Molly's is volume four of the A Dance to the Music of Time series and is Anthony Powell, yet again, at his best.
It's now 1934 and Nick Jenkins is working as a script-writer andAt Lady Molly's sees Nick finally embrace the adult world completely. It's the first time we encounter Nick making a proactive decision rather than passively observing what is happening around him.
At Lady Molly's also introduces us to a large number of new and diverse characters who, I'm guessing, will continue to play significant roles as the Dance progresses. The key character is the eponymous Lady Molly who, whilst she only appears in two scenes, provides the meeting places for diverse and eclectic characters to interact.
Needless to say we encounter Widmerpool once again and, as always, in many ways he is Nick's alter-ego and the star of the show. Despite having yet more ignominy heaped upon him he continues his reinvention and upward trajectory as his evolution from school boy nerd to driven and successful businessman continues.
Once again, I cannot praise the A Dance to the Music of Timeseries highly enough. It's deliciously addictive and an absolute pleasure to read. Imagine, if you will, the best of Evelyn Waughwhen he's dealing with a large number of disparate characters (e.g. Sword of Honour and Brideshead Revisited), and following some of your favourite characters from these books throughout their lives, add in the kind of twists and turns you'd find in superior soap operas, then sprinkle liberally with the humour of someone as gifted as P.G. Wodehouse, and all written in an accessible, beautiful and lucid style.
It's utterly fantastic and gets better and better as the characters become more familiar.
Two tips for anyone reading the A Dance to the Music of Timeseries:
1. I referred to Invitation To The Dance by Hilary Spurling when I needed to remind myself who's who, and recommend it. It's a fantastic resource and a good read in its own right.
2. www.anthonypowell.org.uk has a character list, synopsis, and some excellent essays that throw light on various aspects of the book and further enrich the reading experience.