Merry Christmas, one and all!

I am afraid that with all of the seasonal festivities going on I have not managed to get any time to update this blog. As ever, I have been reading; it’s just that I’ve not found the time to write anything. Anyway, as you can see, I so enjoyed volume six (of A Dance to the Music of Time) that I followed it up immediately with volume seven: The Valley of Bones.

The Valley of Bones by Anthony Powell

I don’t have time right now to review the novel in any great detail, however it was a good read. This volume begins the war trilogy, as Nick joins a battalion and travels with them to Northern Island. This in itself is interesting, as the novel portrays a very different experience of war – that is, what it was like for soldiers who were serving on the home front, away from any actual enemy confrontation. This is obviously a very different experience to that of soldiers serving in enemy territory on the front line (which is so often the focus of war books and films).

Nick joins the battalion as a second lieutenant and finds that the other officers are nearly all London bankers, whilst the men in the company are almost exclusively Welsh miners. The book gives an insight into how the army creates a microcosm of wider society, albeit one wherein some of the power relationships are turned on their heads (e.g. one miner who is senior to another miner in “normal” life becomes inferior to him within the new life of the army).

I must pull out one great observation made by Nick. The context is that Nick has just shared a pertinent but literary piece of wisdom with his superior, Gwatkin, who completely fails to appreciate the sentiment expressed:

He spoke without a vestige of interest. I was impressed for the ten thousandth time by the fact that literature illuminates life only for those to whom books are a necessity. Books are unconvertible assets, to be passed on only to those who posses them already.

Ah, books! What fine, fine things they are.

I don’t know whether any of my relatives share the above sentiment, however several of them were kind enough to buy me some tasty looking new tomes to keep me in reading material for the year ahead…