# Saturday, August 1, 2020

12-HearingSecretHarmoniesAfter 12 volumes, Anthony Powell concludes his epic series A Dance to the Music of Time with Hearing Secret Harmonies.

It is the late 1960s. We meet Fiona - the niece of narrator Nick Jenkins, along with some of the members of the cult to which she belongs, including its creepy and charismatic leader Scorpio Murtlock. We will see more of them later in the story.

Much of this series has dealt with Kenneth Widmerpool - a former classmate of narrator Nick Jenkins - who has risen to power through blind ambition; so, it is fitting that the final volume focuses much of its energies on his last days. Widmerpool is now an old man losing some of his cognitive abilities. He now rejects bourgeois society, embraces the counterculture, has joined Murtlock's cult, and is striving for humility. He is regretting some of his past actions - possibly as a result of his wife's suicide in the previous novel. Part of the old Widmerpool remains, as he challenges Murtlock for control of the cult.

A few other old characters return - some only peripherally:

  • American writer Russell Gwinnett is presented the Magnus Donners Memorial Prize for his biography of the late X Trapnel.
  • Sir Magnus's widow Matilda oversees the award and a wedding later takes place at their former castle.
  • The teenage twin daughters of J.G. Quiggin become frequent companions of Widmerpool
  • One character appears whom Jenkins met briefly at a college party in Book 1 and has not seen in the decades since.
  • Bithel - a WWII comrade of Jenkins's, whom Widmerpool had kicked out of the army for drunkenness - is now an old man and a member of this same cult.

The cult attempts to raise from the dead Dr. Trelawney, who led a cult in earlier Time novels.

In a series not known for plot twists or cliffhangers, this final novel does a good job of wrapping up the story.

This series as a whole exceeds the quality of any individual novels.

Reading A Dance to the Music of Time has been an amazing journey and I am happy to complete that journey.

   

Saturday, August 1, 2020 9:05:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
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