THE VALLEY OF BONES by Anthony owell


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This is again a reprise of the Music of Time: the seventh volume, it is the first in a projected six part chronology and also the first of an initial three which will deal with the World War II years. However grand the design, it is still achieved through lesser, incidental, random experience. This volume, which is almost entirely entered on a Battalion stationed in Wales and Ireland during the ""phoney war,"" has perhaps a stronger definition. There are fewer separate sequences, and only a minimum of the old familiar appear to tax the reader's memory which may have become dim in the nterval between books. Naturally there are a number of new figures, the members of the company who share Nicholas Jenkins' life at the home base which is necessarily monotonous and tedious during this preliminary phase of the war. A visit from a ivisional Commandant reduces itself to a discussion of the nutritive and moral values of porridge. Actually only one character will be very well remembered -- that of captain Gwatkin who keeps his military breviary, Puck of Pook's Hill, in the cashbox. A good man, he is betrayed by trivialities; little things are muddled and muffed, and he is removed from his command. It is almost as if the incongruity and unpredictability of life (after all, what could be more unpredictable than the way in which all the cast in this tremendous chronicle circumstantially meet and part from time to time) is the motif. ""As in musical chairs, the piano stops suddenly, someone is left without eat petrified for all time in their attitude of that particular moment."" Catching all these moments, comic and tragic, abrupt, unexpected, and revealing, is part of Mr. Powell's singular accomplishment.... The market must be self-evident by now.

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 1964
Publisher: ittle, Brown