The second book in the Dance to the Music of Time series starts with an anecdote that acts as a very roundabout way of reintroducing Jenkins. He is remembering meeting Deacon, an artist, in Paris just after the end of the First World War with his parents.
He remembers Deacon because one of his paintings hangs in the home of a young woman that Jenkins believes he might have a mind to develop a serious relationship with.
The first 100 pages is a vivid description of the world Jenkins now operates in with life a series of dinners and balls in-between squeezing in working at an art publishers – hence why he knows a bit more about Deacon and the value of his work.
The men use these dinners and balls as an opportunity to boast about their wealth and plans for social advancement and the woman are concentrating on establishing their reputations for beauty and the prospect of making a good marriage. This is a black and white world of dinner jackets and ball gowns where those that play the game jostle to advance.
By the end of the first chapter Jenkins has met Widmerpool, who is dancing his way round some of the grand houses trying to move up the greasy pole. Plus to bring it back to where the chapter started Jenkins bumps into Deacon and as an unexpected bonus Stringham, his old school friend appears. Following the lead from Stringham the odd group shuffle off to another party.
Whether it is because Jenkins is working at an art publication or more likely because the author appreciates art there are several references to art works throughout the chapter. Sadly if I knew anything about art I’m sure there would be a code that helps describe a location based on the owner’s choice of artwork.