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"Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" (A Dance to the Music of Time, #5) by Anthony Powell

Casanova's Chinese Restaurant - Anthony Powell

"Even the worst marriage is better than no marriage at all"

I can only reiterate some of the praise I have lavished on this series - it's pure pleasure. The writing is some of the best I have ever read. 

In "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" (Vol 5) we've reached the mid-1930s, the backdrop includes the Abdication crisis and the Spanish Civil War. These seismic events, and the storm clouds gathering over Europe, are of only tangential concern to our narrator Nick Jenkins and his companions: marriage and relationships are at the heart of "Casanova's Chinese Restaurant".

Before we get into the issue of marriage, Anthony Powell takes us back to the late 1920s from a vantage somewhere after World War 2. It's an unsettling introduction, but an important one, as the reader is introduced to a new group of Nick's friends and acquaintances, including composer Hugh Moreland who it transpires is probably his best friend.

Widmerpool sadly only makes a cameo appearance and Templar doesn't appear at all, however Stringham makes a dramatic return at a party for Moreland given by Stringham's mother Mrs Foxe in the novel's most memorable scene. 

"Casanova's Chinese Restaurant" abounds with adult themes - marriage, depression and alcoholism - and it all feels a far cry from the school days that started the A Dance To The Music of Time books. That said, there is still much subtle humour and some wonderful new plot twists. 

As I state at the outset, this series is a delight. I look forward to continuing the series with "The Kindly Ones" (Vol 6).