A book by Julie Kagawa.
Powell's epic of 20th-century England is actually composed of 12 novels divided into four "movements," although they can be read individually as separate works. The novels were originally published from the 1950s through the 1970s. Copyright … see full wiki
We learn much more about Widmerpool and his ambition in The Soldier's Art. Jenkins, acting as his lackey, gets first hand knowledge of both Widmerpool's strengths (hard-working, detailed, thorough) as well as his weaknesses (vain, petty, unscrupulous). One of the strongest scenes yet in the series is a segment herein where Jenkins attempts to help Stringham, who has recovered from his alcoholism, but only managed to achieve a position as a waiter in the Army. Jenkins wants Widmerpool to find Stringham a better position, but Widmerpool at first will have none of it. Widmerpool feels that a man must achieve his own positions, without any string-pulling from his friends. Of course, this is totally hypocritical--he is quite willing to let people pull strings to help his fortunes, and is willing to manipulate the course of actions if they are beneficial to himself (such as having Jenkins assigned to him). Jenkins goes on R&R, and when he returns, he finds that Stringham's been reassigned to the laundry on Widmerpool's suggestion. Thinking Widmerpool has turned a new leaf, he thanks him, then learns that the laundry is due to be shipped out to a nasty portion of the war. The strength of this series by Powell is that all the action above takes place in amongst three of four other developing storylines, including a rivalry between Widmerpool and a office at the same rank, a chance for Jenkins to get out from under Widmerpool's office, and the ongoing blitz of London. Keeping it all straight is difficult at times. Of the books in the series, this is probably my favorite or next favorite so far.
The "Autumn" trilogy ends with The Military Philosophers. Jenkins and Widmerpool separate, each into different parts of the military governance--Widmerpool into intelligence, Jenkins into foreign liaisons. Now that he's back in the city, Jenkins is reunited with his wife and many of the parts of society that being assigned to a country regiment had denied him. Even though the war goes on, and some of Jenkins' in-laws are killed by German bombing raids, the book is concerned as much with the love affairs of the characters as the affairs of the war. Most prominently, Templar's sister, Pamela Flitton, is introduced herein, and the information regarding her dealings with characters that we have met in the preceding eight volumes provides much of the plot. In fact, at one point, where Jenkins is grilling another character regarding Pamela, the character says, "Why do I need to tell you this? Are you from MI5?" because Jenkins, and the reader, has already tied much of what has happened together through the grapevine of other friends and relatives.
I don't think of "The Dance" as a gossip novel, but in many ways, that is how it seems. Action often takes a back seat to the machinations of talk, and the most interesting bits are the surprises that spring from how characters do not relate to one another as seen through Jenkins' eyes. Things do happen--bombs burst, sugar gets poured over heads, intercourse happens--but they become stronger by how they are perceived by the characters than their actual effect. I'm looking forward to the next few books, anticipating Widmerpool's fall from grace and some truth and reconciliation that ties up a lot of what has gone before.
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