Another Powellian delight
The Valley of Bones is Volume 7 of "A Dance to the Music of Time" and is yet another great instalment in this wonderful 12 novel series.
I am now finding it harder and harder to read other books as I work my way through the "A Dance to the Music of Time"novels. Indeed I have now concluded that this effort of will is beyond me and, as far as possible, I am going to exclusively read this series until that sad day arrives when I turn the last page of Volume 12.
The Valley of Bones begins in Wales, and it's early 1940 and the start of World War 2, and narrator Nick Jenkins, having secured a full time role in the army, is with his new platoon. This development heralds the introduction a host of new characters. Indeed, with the exception of a weekend's leave, where we catch up with various members of the Tolland family, and a few other familiar older characters, the entire book is about Nick's new army world.
I noticed many parallels with Evelyn Waugh's splendid "Sword of Honour" in particular the tedium, the mix of eclectic and disparate characters having to live in close proximity, and the self-delusion and vanity which accompanied some of the nascent military careers at the onset of war. The most notable character, amongst a host of great cameos, is Captain Gwatkin whose dreams of personal and military ambition are thwarted in a cruel black comedy.
There is one person who is curiously absent from this book, excepting for a few oblique references, however as the book closes there he is in all his idiosyncratic glory - Kenneth Widermpool.
So, onwards and upwards as I move on to The Soldier's Art ("A Dance to the Music of Time" Volume 8) which I eagerly anticipate.