By quite a margin, I found this to be the most readable of the entire series of volumes so far. This is because Powell develops a number of minor characters into major ones, most notably in this volume Pamela nee Flitton and X Trapnel the esoteric author whose lifestyle forms a major theme.
And not only does Powell develop these characters as individuals in their own right, he arranges a number of quite memorable scenes in which their characters come to the fore. Through these, as we have come to expect, Widmerpool blunders in his usual socially reckless manner. It all makes for a quick episode.
The era is post war and the characters are trying to figure out how to get back to normal. Jenkins returns to university and eventually ends up working as an editor for a new literary review which is the backdrop for Powell’s continuing fascination with cultural hoi polloi (or, just to show how
cultured I am, should that be hoy polloy. I forget.)
Although this exploration of art, literature and the like is, overall, the one major common theme of the entire series of 12 volumes, Powell does not leave the reader with only that to trawl through for pithy statements regarding life, the universe and everything. Rather, he sets up some well-crafted conflicts between the characters of Widmerpool, Pamela and X Trapnel who get involved in a sort of hate-triangle.
There’s also an amusing incident with a Chinese urn.
I enjoyed this one and it’s a good thing too. After hearing all about the dreary misery of wartime allied administration, I needed it.
|RATING||No individual ratings for volumes of this novel. I’ll give a rating of the entire novel with my review of the last volume.|