A Dance to the Music of Time: 2nd Movement – The Kindly Ones (Powell)

It was startling to have this section start with a flashback to Nicholas’ childhood, what he, in the end calls the time of his loss of innocence. Then we quickly move back into his regular social circles where he travels among a familiar crowd of people, many of whom have changed their relationships, but all of whom still seem to be interconnected. As far as I can tell, there’s only one new character (Stanley Jeavons), and no one knew he existed. It is Jeavons, though, who seems to think he can help our protagonist, now a bit past thirty with a pregnant wife in the country, get into the army – one of the more active decisions he’s made in the first 6 of these 12 novels. There are a few memorable moments in this one – the Seven Deadly Sins photographs, the preparation for Uncle Giles’ funeral, the naked parlour maid. But most memorable of all is that WW2 is finally upon us, and war is changing everyone, including the city. Nicholas’ circle is still peripheral to the war; it’s a kind of social inconvenience, it would seem. But perhaps the 3rd movement takes us into darker places.

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