Books Do Furnish a Room by Anthony Powell

Cover of Books Do Furnish a Room

So, having reached volume 10 of the 12 volume series we’re plunged into ‘Winter’ according to the seasonal cycle of the books. Which I have issue with as by my calculations the main characters are not much into their forties, are still parents of young children etc and are hardly next in line for the nursing home. But perhaps I’m missing something and being a bit obtuse. The war is finally over having gone on for way too long in this series, in my opinion. And that’s all fine because this is very much about the subjective nature of time. The second world war will likely have felt like it went on for ages and interrupted everyone’s lives, and now things are dragging on rather than really getting back to normal and these characters no doubt feel like the older generation now.

This book features what I presume is the hard frozen winter of 1947, and Nick is back working as a writer and in the publishing trade. Whenever writers write about writing and publishing it seems a bit insular and it’s no different here. I’m avoiding reading much about this series until I’ve finished but I’m presuming, perhaps wrongly, that there’s a degree of slightly-disguised-autobiography at play here. I suspect there’s a lot of parody in the publishing company parts of the book but that’s mostly over the head of the reader eighty-ish years later. I presumed the parts of the book where the publisher worried about obscenity trials was in the manner of Lady Chatterley’s Lover but I’ve just checked and that trial didn’t happen until 1960. Oh, but further checking and this book wasn’t published until 1971, so I think I was probably thinking along the right lines.

On the whole I much preferred this book to the few preceding it, it was far more relatable and entertaining and I am looking forward to the next two and reaching the end. 

More information about this book can be found on storygraph.

Read on September 5, 2022

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