Today I finished book #8 in the Dance series...A Soldiers Art. On the one hand, I cannot believe that I'm so far into it...only 4 more books left. On the other hand, I've now been reading the series for an entire year - continuously. I have no idea what I'll do with my time when I'm finially finished with it (probably) next March. This should really count for more than just one on a book list. Seriously - almost a year and a half of my life devoted to checking one book off a list. But it's turning out to be worth it.
There are many books out there that are dedicated to telling the story of one particular character over a lifetime, and many of them are quite chunky. But I am not aware of any other that is so massive as Dance...which gives Powell the time to really tell the story of a character. And I am coming to appreciate the way that Nick tells of the deaths of various people. At first it annoyed me that he was almost flippant about the loss of people close to him; now I get it...the non-event of it almost gives it more power. Once I let go of wishing Nick would tell me something about himself, I realized what Powell was doing. The last thing that we are told in Book 8 is that Barnby was shot down and killed. That's it. But in not dwelling on it, somehow Powell is able to do something that other novels have failed to do. It just hands you the bad news and walks away rather than belaboring it. It's different though, and it was tough to get used to.
The saddest part thus far was when Lovell and his wife Priscilla (Nick's sister-in-law) died within hours - maybe minutes of each other in separate bombings in London. They had been separated and Priscilla was out with her new beau. Lovell was going to "surprise" Priscilla by showing up at a party she was supposed to be attending. She didn't go. Lovell died there, she died at home. I read it in a hotel in State College and it was all I could do to keep myself from crying over it. You spend so much time with these people...like I said, it's been a year already...and when they die, it's almost as if you knew them personally. I've said this before, but I'm going to miss this book when I finish it.