The Kindly Ones by Anthony Powell

I am becoming ever more addicted to this cycle of novels, collectively known as ‘A Dance to the Music of Time’. This one is set in the build up to the Second World War and the menace of the period is subtly conveyed. The title refers to the Furies of Ancient Greek mythology, who brought vengeance, and were called the Eumenides, which in Greek means ‘the kindly ones’. The name was a sort of euphemism, used to mollify the Furies and not encourage them to pursue their nature.

The narrator, Nick, remains as enigmatic and blank as ever, the canvas on which a parade of great characters are paraded before the reader. The great pleasure lies in the style – funny, erudite – like being transported.

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