Mom tried, she really did, so don’t blame her that I finished my entry in the 1951 Club 10 days late. A Question of Upbringing is the first volume in the roman-fleuve A Dance to the Music of Time. I read the first few years ago, but never got through the whole thing. It is the story of four men who went to the same school, though in a way, not together. They aren’t the same year and the fourth, Widmerpool, isn’t even friends with the others. He is an awkward boy, not one of the gang, but there’s evidence that there is more to him that will emerge over the course of the cycle. The narrator, Nicholas Jenkins, is friends with Peter Templer and Charles Stringham. Both of whom graduate before Jenkins, but Templer doesn’t go to Univeristy and Stringham can’t stand it and leaves as soon as possible. This seems very odd as both of them are well-off and I would expect both to get a degree, but they both go into business. I suppose that’s a sort of spoiler, except the book really hasn’t got a plot. There’s no real suspense, nothing hinges on anything so far. They all age a few years and we learn a bit about them, their families and society in the early 20s.
I liked it well enough. Nick is a fairly classic narrator. A little more naive, less experienced, not as rich as his friends, but not remarkably so. He seems popular enough, likable enough, without having any characteristics too outstanding. He likes to read. He’s interested in women, or starting to be. I don’t know whether it will all end up being a great read or not. Kaggsy’s review (really much more thorough than mine, go read it) reminds me that Powell had some connection with the Bright Young Things/People and that Jenkins lends another odd character, Quiggin, a copy of The Green Hat. A book I failed to finish for the 1924 club. It’s around here somewhere. Maybe I should give it another go after Vile Bodies. That’ll give me an all-round BYP education