A Buyer's Market
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|Cover artist||James Broom-Lynne|
|Series||A Dance to the Music of Time|
|Genre||Satirical, Philosophical novel|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||A Question of Upbringing|
|Followed by||The Acceptance World|
A Buyer's Market is the second novel in Anthony Powell's twelve-novel series, A Dance to the Music of Time. Published in 1952, it continues the story of narrator Nick Jenkins with his introduction into society after boarding school and university.
The book presents new characters, notably the painter Mr. Deacon and his dubious female acquaintance Gypsy Jones, as well as reappearances by Jenkins' school friends Peter Templer, Charles Stringham and Kenneth Widmerpool. The action takes place in London high society in the late 1920s, focusing on a handful of close-knit incidents which illustrate the flowing and weaving nature of the passage of time.
The book opens with Nick's memories of the artist, Mr. Deacon, especially a meeting at the Louvre, during the time of the Peace Conferences (Paris Peace Conference, 1919). The next part of the book is taken up with various debutante balls in the early summer of 1928/9, notably at the Huntercombes', where Barbara Goring (a flame of Nick's) pours sugar over Widmerpool. Leaving the ball, Widmerpool and Jenkins bump into Mr Deacon and Gypsy Jones. Stopping together at a tea stall they encounter Stringham, who takes Nick, Widmerpool, Deacon and Gypsy to a party at Mrs Andriadis's.
During that summer Jenkins spends weekends in the country and lunches at Stourwater, home of magnate Sir Magnus Donners, where he again meets Jean Templer, now married to Bob Duport. Widmerpool, who now works for Donners, appears during a tour of the Stourwater dungeons and later manages to wreck one of his master's ornamental urns with his car.
That autumn Stringham is married to Lady Peggy Stepney; Mr Deacon dies after his birthday party; Jenkins sleeps with Gypsy after Deacon's funeral. The book ends with Nick having dined with Widmerpool, his mother, and Janet Walpole-Wilson. Leaving out from the dinner, Nick reflects:
"For reasons not always at the time explicable, there are specific occasions when events begin suddenly to take on a significance previously unsuspected; so that, before we really know where we are, life seems to have begun in earnest at last, and we, ourselves, scarcely aware that any change has taken place, are careering uncontrollably down the slippery avenues of eternity."
- A Buyer's Market, p. 230. in Powell, Anthony. A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
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