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The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business/The Manticore/World of Wonders

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Who killed Boy Staunton?Around this central mystery is woven a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived trilogy of novels. Luring the reader down labyrinthine tunnels of myth, history, and magic, The Deptford Trilogy provides an exhilarating antidote to a world from where "the fear and dread and splendour of wonder have been banished."


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Who killed Boy Staunton?Around this central mystery is woven a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived trilogy of novels. Luring the reader down labyrinthine tunnels of myth, history, and magic, The Deptford Trilogy provides an exhilarating antidote to a world from where "the fear and dread and splendour of wonder have been banished."

30 review for The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business/The Manticore/World of Wonders

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kinga

    How do I even begin this? I spent about two weeks reading this and that's a lot of time for people to be asking: "so what is it about?" It's usually non-readers who ask such questions because readers know better than to ask what a 800 page book is about. But I thought about it and decided that it was mostly about subjectivity of experience. Not that it made sense to anyone who asked. It was three books and each one of them a different kind of wonderful. It all starts in a small village of How do I even begin this? I spent about two weeks reading this and that's a lot of time for people to be asking: "so what is it about?" It's usually non-readers who ask such questions because readers know better than to ask what a 800 page book is about. But I thought about it and decided that it was mostly about subjectivity of experience. Not that it made sense to anyone who asked. It was three books and each one of them a different kind of wonderful. It all starts in a small village of Deptford, Ontario. Fifth Business was like a better version of Prayer for Owen Meany. There were saints, magic and a lot of symbolism but not as heavy handed as in John Irving’s books. It’s the life story of Dunstan Ramsay, a man who has never played the main character. Even as a narrator he reduces himself to a catalyst needed for certain things to happen. As it is, it as much a story about Dunstan as it is a story about Boy Staunton, his best friend and his enemy. Dunstan is an honest and self-aware narrator but as every first person narrator should be approached with caution. After all, he does specialize in myths and likes to attribute more meaning to things than other people think it’s reasonable. The Manticore looks on many events from The Fifth Business from a different perspective and through a different medium – Jung style psychoanalysis which Boy Staunton’s son is undergoing. It’s clear that Robertson Davies is a big fan of Jung and weirdly enough this was the book I have read the quickest of all three. Nothing more exciting than uncovering different layers of a person’s psyche. It made me want to embrace and explore my own Shadow, i.e. all that’s nasty about me (like that I am a judgmental bitch). World of Wonders is when the last missing puzzle of Deptford finds its place. It’s a story about illusions and legends that we like to believe about ourselves. It really explores the theme of the first person narrator, the autobiographer – unreliable by definition. It’s also a very bizarre but beautiful love story, although Davies might be falling in his own Jung trap, because his female characters in all three books are more of Anima archetypes than characters but it’s possible he meant them to be this way as every book is written from a male point of view. Davies writes the hell out of every sentence. There aren’t any false notes. Its perfection left me amazed and I am afraid my hackneyed review won’t do it justice. I don’t even want to use any of the adjectives the blurb writers have cheapened over decades of book marketing. This review is so vapid it makes me want to cry because all I want to do is to get everyone to read this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ·Karen·

    Mr Davies is the Magus, the Magician. I'm sure this must be at least the third time that I've read Fifth Business, and it never palls. He has such an ease and breadth of narration, such elegance and gentle irony. You relax into this kind of authoritative voice, luxuriate in its reassuring comfort. And all the while the magic spell silently twists into position, so that you swallow the most unlikely of coincidences, the slightly one-sided female figures, the rather too obvious a contrast between Mr Davies is the Magus, the Magician. I'm sure this must be at least the third time that I've read Fifth Business, and it never palls. He has such an ease and breadth of narration, such elegance and gentle irony. You relax into this kind of authoritative voice, luxuriate in its reassuring comfort. And all the while the magic spell silently twists into position, so that you swallow the most unlikely of coincidences, the slightly one-sided female figures, the rather too obvious a contrast between Dunstan and his materialist counterpart, Boyd Staunton, the odd idea of Dunstan writing such a long letter to his headmaster. None of that matters. It flies, a magic carpet ride about guilt, responsibility and recognizing all the parts of your personality, the rational and the irrational. Deeply satisfying.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lari Don

    A wonderful trilogy, by an incredible writer. Each of the three novels looks back on a mans life. The first, Fifth Business, is a letter from a school teacher to his old headmaster, attempting to show that his life was much more than anyone ever saw at school, and it touches on saints, war, madness and artificial legs. The second book, The Manticore, is notes from the Jungian analysis of a wealthy Canadian lawyer, touching on archetypes, alcoholism, first love and death-masks. The third, World of A wonderful trilogy, by an incredible writer. Each of the three novels looks back on a man’s life. The first, Fifth Business, is a letter from a school teacher to his old headmaster, attempting to show that his life was much more than anyone ever saw at school, and it touches on saints, war, madness and artificial legs. The second book, The Manticore, is notes from the Jungian analysis of a wealthy Canadian lawyer, touching on archetypes, alcoholism, first love and death-masks. The third, World of Wonders, is the life story of a performer, told to a film crew as they search for a subtext to their film, touching on circuses, kidnapping, clockwork, and a very British theatrical tour. All three books are linked by Deptford, the home village of two of the men, and also the home village of Boy Staunton, the lawyer’s father, and linked by the death of Boy Staunton under odd circumstances. And each book contains unhappy men powerful in their own ways, and women who are influential but rarely comforting. However, you don’t have to be interested in saints or Jung or British theatre to love these books. The most notable thing about any Robertson Davies novel is the generous and intelligent spirit which gleams out of them. Some books make you feel the author’s intellect and learning but also make you very aware of your own lack of learning; these humane erudite books make the reader feel clever too. I didn’t feel patronised as a teenager when I read these, though I am now aware that I must have missed at least 90% of the references! As I reread them every new decade of my life, I get new mythical, religious, literary and historical references every time! I wonder if I will ever live long enough to get every single one of them? These are fabulous books, by an amazing writer. Please discover him for yourself!

  4. 5 out of 5

    ES

    Read most of this book under the shadow of Cortez's Cathedral in Mexico sitting by a pool and smoking really bad pot. Anyways, somebody I barely know suggested it. I'm glad he did...it got me through a tough time. Took my mind to another place when it was in another place to begin with. Something quaint and imaginative about the way he writes, like a master storyteller with no other agenda than the story at hand.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lorenzo Berardi

    From the snapshots you can find online, Robertson Davies looked like Charles Darwin with a touch of Santa Claus. The Canadian author had a long white forked beard that was strikingly demode in the 1970s when he delivered the three books of this excellent Deptford Trilogy. And yet, don't be fooled by the first appearances. You better look more carefully at the photos of Mr Davies. If you do that, you will perceive genuine wit and an eager inquisitiveness in his eyes as well as the intimidating From the snapshots you can find online, Robertson Davies looked like Charles Darwin with a touch of Santa Claus. The Canadian author had a long white forked beard that was strikingly demode in the 1970s when he delivered the three books of this excellent Deptford Trilogy. And yet, don't be fooled by the first appearances. You better look more carefully at the photos of Mr Davies. If you do that, you will perceive genuine wit and an eager inquisitiveness in his eyes as well as the intimidating irony of his slightly raised eyebrows. This man knew what he did and always kept himself up-to-date with the long times he lived in. If Robertson Davies chose to look from another age deserting the barbershops of Ontario, that was not a sign of personal carelessness but very much a deliberate intellectual disguise. Davies' old-fashioned long white forked beard had at the same time the gravitas of the British born naturalist and the bonhomie of the popular gift-bearer. And in between Darwin's meticolous but revolutionary cataloguing and classifying specimens and Father Christmas' magic but punctual efficiency in delivering airborne gifts, Robertson Davies' prose might be found. No surprises that reading "The Deptford Trilogy" to me has been like embarking on the Beagle with a flying open sleigh on the deck ready to take off at the author's call. Captain Davies led our brig-sloop time-machine through his story with remarkable confidence and ease leaving the Canadian shores behind with the occasional brat throwing a snowball at us from the quay. During our navigation he always had the first and the last word on board and - to his credit - he managed to keep his whole crew of characters under control without neglecting the needs of his only reader and passenger. We followed a circular route with a stopover between "Fifth Business" and "The Manticore" to welcome on board a new first narrator looking for psychoanalysis. Then, thanks to the flying open sleigh we brought along on the Beagle, we left the poor fellow on the Swiss Alps between Jung and the Jungfrau. Just in time to begin the exploration of the third stage of our trip leading us to the illusive borders of the "World of Wonders" together with a film troupe and eventually back to Deptford. Believe me, folks. You will suffer no seasickness sailing (and flying) with Robertson Davies. This guy never loses the control of his helm and - as a plus - is not afraid of pointing straight into the whirlwinds of history, politics, religion and love. That and the difficult art and consequences of dodging a snowball thrown by a brat. The magical realism and real magic you will bring back home after embarking on a journey on The Deptford Trilogy with Captain Davies are equally haunting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    FIFTH BUSINESS ============== This is a good book. It doesn't belong to my favorite class of artistic works, which I think of as the "Fire and Forked Lightning" variety. But it's quite good. Roberston Davies tells his tale in a slightly detached, leisurely pace that I'm tempted to attribute to his being from Canada. The story certainly doesn't hit you like a hollywood movie plot ride. It's thoughtful and takes it's time, but it's a good story -- basically the entire story of one man's life, with FIFTH BUSINESS ============== This is a good book. It doesn't belong to my favorite class of artistic works, which I think of as the "Fire and Forked Lightning" variety. But it's quite good. Roberston Davies tells his tale in a slightly detached, leisurely pace that I'm tempted to attribute to his being from Canada. The story certainly doesn't hit you like a hollywood movie plot ride. It's thoughtful and takes it's time, but it's a good story -- basically the entire story of one man's life, with scope and interest and some lovely and truly felt imagery burned into the center of it. The emotional detachment author -- or the narrator, but the difference here is academic -- is part of the book, but it also renders the tale in less vivid colors than I might have liked. Or, let me say, if the narrator had been closer and more emotional about the tale, it would have been a different sort of story, maybe more in the Austen/Bronte sort of vein. The distance is interesting, it's not just bad. In exchange for the heat and draw of the extremely personal, it asks you to step back and review a life. Which leads me to the last thing I'd like to say about this book. This book does something that I find quite interesting -- it deals with symbolism and significance as a *subject* in the book, but the story itself is much more realistic. Things that seem meaningful happen, and then instead of allowing that just to be a magic of the fiction, the Davies' picks at them. His characters wonder, investigate, explode, embrace the meanings of their lives, but their lives, like real lives, do not come with this meaning officially sanctioned (Dickens) or condemned (Hardy). Once again -- quiet realism instead of the magic of high drama.

  7. 5 out of 5

    W.D. Clarke

    It's not much of a spoiler to tell you that the last sentence of this trilogy is a one-word exclamation: "Egoist!". I mention this to introduce my (probably highly unoriginal, but I have not as of yet read any criticism of RD's work) pet theory that this, second trilogy of Davies is his psychomachia ("soul-war"), in which the author explores the various elements of his own personality and how, by conflicting with each other, indirectly reveal the drama of his own life. Thus, the principal It's not much of a spoiler to tell you that the last sentence of this trilogy is a one-word exclamation: "Egoist!". I mention this to introduce my (probably highly unoriginal, but I have not as of yet read any criticism of RD's work) pet theory that this, second trilogy of Davies is his psychomachia ("soul-war"), in which the author explores the various elements of his own personality and how, by conflicting with each other, indirectly reveal the drama of his own life. Thus, the principal characters in these three books (all of which are obsessed with the World-As-Stage metaphor, by the way) can be said to be contending for the role of lead protagonist, when that part is already reserved, thank you very much, for the author himself. As one character says to another in the third installment in this series, World of Wonders, there comes a time in some lives when the urge to confess overtakes them, and it is a wise interlocutor who allows himself to be cast in the role of confessor in such a case, for then we can "expect to hear some strange things" out of them (WW 19). In the first novel, Fifth Business, serious-minded scholar Dunstan Ramsay recounts his life of saint-hunting for the headmaster of the school which is celebrating his now-ending pedagogical career. In the second book, The Manticore David Staunton, son of Ramsay's frenemy Boy Staunton, spills all of his beans to a Jungian therapist in Zurich. The closing volume, meanwhile, revolves a round a famous magician's (Magnus Eisengrim, boyhood acquaintance of Ramsay) urge to be telling of his own metamorphosis, that from a callow circus hand and provincial urchin into the great, revered, international showman of his age. So here we have three possible aspects of Davies' own personality set out for us in a classic Freudian dreamscape, in which condensation and displacement hide the latent spiritual content (I would say psychological, but that would be insulting our august, learned author, who has much to teach us about archetypes, the consanguinity of good and evil, and of truth and illusion) in the surface, manifest storyline: the author, a serious scholar in his own right, pursues the truth ambivalently, both like the dogged historian Ramsay and like the reluctant analysand David Staunton, while he is also, qua novelist, merely a "fine illusionist" like Magnus Eisengrim: But what is that? A man who depends upon a lot of contraptions—mechanical devices, clockwork, mirrors..."(WW 6) The final novel has much to say about the mechanics of stagecraft, of course, as we peep inside the making of an illusionist's career and psyche, all of which is itself refracted through the lens of a film crew who are attempting to use Eisengrim's own backstory as a sub-text for a film that they are all making on the life of the 19C French illusionist and watch-maker, Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin. And so we have rooms-within-rooms reflected in mirrors-within mirrors in these three novels, all of which are artfully plotted in meticulous detail, as a watchmaker might reassemble a delicate, antique timepiece, not merely with patience and skill, but with passion, even love, "coaxing" and "humouring" time-worn mechanisms so as to "re-animate" them, make their "nineteenth century roman[ce]" speak to a later, much more hurried age—so, too does this author "invest these creatures of [a different] metal with so much vitality and charm of action", in a series of novels that, though it finally reveals itself for what it is: a putative World of Wonders which hints at a spiritual existence while nevertheless remaining bound to the earth and constructed out of scraps, of bits, of preterite matter*, nevertheless also thoroughly, unavoidably and even indescribably charms its readers. This one's a keeper, then (& far more than the sum of its parts!), and one that will keep you thinking and wondering about it, perhaps even with some of that old-fashioned, sublime awe, long after you have put it down. *e.g. (view spoiler)[nothing more (or less) magical than a simple, yet unforgiving rock, hidden in a snowball, thrown at Dunstan Ramsay by David Staunton's father Boy Staunton, and which misses its target, which then strikes Magnus Eisengrim's pregnant mother instead, and thereby causes her to give premature birth to a son named Paul Dempster—is just the first, humble, initiating cause of all their journeys in this series of novels, and yet was evidently magic enough for one SuperFan of Robertson Davies', one John Irving, to openly borrow for the key plot point of his own novel, A Prayer For Owen Meaney! (hide spoiler)] .

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Olsson

    Whenever I mention this book the very few who recognize it ask me if I am Canadian. No, I am not Canadian. This book skirts a very fine line between the entirely possible and the gothically surreal. Told in trilogy form the story sprawls in the best possible way. The book is worth reading simply to gain the aquaintance of the narrating character. (I'm not sure I have crushed so hard on a literary figure since Schmendrick the Magician.) His views and musings are so fresh and well put that I, heaven Whenever I mention this book the very few who recognize it ask me if I am Canadian. No, I am not Canadian. This book skirts a very fine line between the entirely possible and the gothically surreal. Told in trilogy form the story sprawls in the best possible way. The book is worth reading simply to gain the aquaintance of the narrating character. (I'm not sure I have crushed so hard on a literary figure since Schmendrick the Magician.) His views and musings are so fresh and well put that I, heaven shrive my soul, broke my own golden rule of no-book-marking to capture and mark numerous passages for return perusal, and return I have.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    I know that is is supposed to be a fantastic trilogy but it really didn't do it for me. Was I too young the first time around? Perhaps. If enough GR friends push me to do so, I'll give it another shot.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard

    Three volumes of the Deptford Trilogy each narrated by a different character by way of some form of memoir. Fifth Business is narrated by Dunstable (later Dunstan) Ramsay, a schoolteacher who grows up in the fictional Deptford. The novel takes the form of a letter Ramsay writes to the headmaster of the school from which he has just retired, wherein he recalls how, as a boy, he ducked a snowball wrapped around a stone intended for him. The snowball hit a pregnant woman who happened to be passing Three volumes of the “Deptford Trilogy” each narrated by a different character by way of some form of memoir. Fifth Business is narrated by Dunstable (later Dunstan) Ramsay, a schoolteacher who grows up in the fictional Deptford. The novel takes the form of a letter Ramsay writes to the headmaster of the school from which he has just retired, wherein he recalls how, as a boy, he ducked a snowball wrapped around a stone intended for him. The snowball hit a pregnant woman who happened to be passing by; she gave birth prematurely as a result and then goes mad. This incident has affected Ramsay's life, and the novel tells how he comes to terms with his feelings of guilt. Intertwined with his story is the life of Percy Boyd 'Boy' Staunton, Ramsay's boyhood friend who threw the snowball, and who later becomes a wealthy businessman. The Manticore is the story of Boy Staunton's only son, David. David Staunton undergoes Jungian psychoanalysis in Switzerland. During his therapy (the book is a record of his therapy plus notes he made for his therapy), he tries to understand his father and his relationship to him. The novel is in fact a detailed record of his therapy and his coming to understand his own life. World of Wonders is the story of Paul Dempster, the son of the woman hit by the snowball, who after initially being abducted by a circus has grown up to be Magnus Eisengrim, a famous magician. Eisengrim is to portray a 19th century magician in a television movie. During lulls in the filming, he recounts his life to various people including Ramsey, including the incredible obstacles he has had to overcome, and elaborates on his career as an actor travelling through Canada in the early 20th century. To the extent there is a narrative: Ramsey encounters Dempster various times – eventually as Eisengrim and befriends him and his bizarre girlfriend Leisl including ghosting a completely fabricated autobiography. After introducing Eisengrim to Dempster the latter commits suicide the same day with in his mouth the stone his Dad threw at Mrs Dempster which Ramsey had kept as a paper weight. Ramsey is convinced Eisengrim hypnotised Staunton and effectively murdered him but it seems to have been closer to assisted suicide. Each book centres largely around myth. Ramsey becomes convinced that Mrs Dempster is a saint (especially after a vision he sees of her in WWI) and devotes his private life to the study of saints and the exploration of their role as myths. The Jungian therapists draws on various mythical individuals and roles which in her view emerge when someone repeats their life story and which repeat the earliest human myths. During Dempster’s reminiscences the various present day characters discuss storytelling, the role of autobiography and film as well as the role of myths in magic. Ramsey and Dempster believe firmly in the marvellous and the need to restore a sense of wonder to the world – David Staunton has always had a completely opposite view but finds his legal rationalism challenged by his therapy. Key related themes are good and evil, truth and illusion, history and identity, the difference between external perception and internal truth (for example Ramsey writes his letter when he realises from his leaving speech that his fellow teachers and ex-pupils see him as a boring character with no life out of school other than a quaint obsession with saints), the contrast between mundane Canadian provincial life and the bizarre worlds of saints and circuses. Fascinating book verging at many times on the bizarre – although often tedious to read and difficult to follow – the book is effectively a combination of A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Discovery of Heaven although not as good as either.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bookspread

    Robertson Davies was a big fan of Jungian psychology, so if you enjoy archetypes in literature this will be a true character identification feast. How each narrator perceives the world around them plays also a big part in solving the Mysterious Death that drives the plot, so you get to play the shrink-detective. The Best: * The dialogue. Except when Magnus rambles, where it gets a bit stiff. * The female characters (except for Leola Cruikshanks and Doctor Jo) and the fact the sexiest woman in the Robertson Davies was a big fan of Jungian psychology, so if you enjoy archetypes in literature this will be a true character identification feast. How each narrator perceives the world around them plays also a big part in solving the Mysterious Death that drives the plot, so you get to play the shrink-detective. The Best: * The dialogue. Except when Magnus rambles, where it gets a bit stiff. * The female characters (except for Leola Cruikshanks and Doctor Jo) and the fact the sexiest woman in the trilogy is also the ugliest. Liesl Naegeli, I have a crush on you. * The personalities presented, which cover the range of human experience, from the lowest emotions to the best impulses. * The undercurrent of magical realism, which is subtle but sets the novel on fire from the inside. * Liesl Naegeli’s monstruosly romantic castle in Switzerland. * Paul Dempster’s metamorphosis into Magnus Eisengrim. The Worst: * Boy Staunton’s appalling comments and opinions on everything, from women to religion to child rearing to friendship. * Boy Staunton’s wives. * Boy Staunton’s (and later David Staunton’s) housekeeper. What a detestable woman! * Willard the Pedophile Wizard and his freak show colleagues.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I am forever indebted to my friend Donna Durham (Donna, where are you now?) for introducing me to Robertson Davies and The Deptford Trilogy. Some have described these books as examples of magical realism; well, yes, sort of, as written by a Canadian. The trilogy consists of three books: Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders. The books each tell the same story from the point of view of a different character and center around the murder of Percy "Boy" Staunton. Fifth Business, my I am forever indebted to my friend Donna Durham (Donna, where are you now?) for introducing me to Robertson Davies and The Deptford Trilogy. Some have described these books as examples of magical realism; well, yes, sort of, as written by a Canadian. The trilogy consists of three books: Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders. The books each tell the same story from the point of view of a different character and center around the murder of Percy "Boy" Staunton. Fifth Business, my favorite, introduces Dunstan Ramsey on the occasion of his retirement from his longtime position as a "public" school teacher. As Ramsey narrates the events of his life, we are introduced to unforgettable characters and the recurring themes of connection and destiny, saints and madness. The Manticore explores the subconscious of David Staunton, Boy's son, through Jungian psychotherapy. Finally, World of Wonders tells the story of Magnus Eisengrim, a world famous magician whose very existence is tied to the relationship between Ramsey and his "life-long friend and enemy" Boy Staunton. Unfortunately these books are not available on Kindle; please don't let that deter you!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    The work of some of my favorite Canadian authors Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Carol Shields seems to take place in an alternate universe, one that looks similar to the one I inhabit but with a different set of rules.However, the outlandish stories of Robertson Davies make me feel right at home. And hes the one who deals most explicitly with Canada as a nationality with its own mythology and creed. But he deals with everything like that, archetypally. He has more in common with Atwood than The work of some of my favorite Canadian authors – Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Carol Shields – seems to take place in an alternate universe, one that looks similar to the one I inhabit but with a different set of rules.However, the outlandish stories of Robertson Davies make me feel right at home. And he’s the one who deals most explicitly with Canada as a nationality with its own mythology and creed. But he deals with everything like that, archetypally. He has more in common with Atwood than with Munro, who doesn’t explicitly address the Canada issue, treating the context simply as “reality” and making it all the more bewildering as a result. Davies is a great explicator of Carl Jung in novel form. His fiction is bundled into trilogies of short novels. Each trilogy is about a different set of characters, but I seem to recall that rural Canada, as bitterly provincial and narrow a place as any American Main Street, is an element in each one, the jumping off place, the foundation. Deptford is Davies’ middle trilogy, and it’s named after the provincial town where the story begins and where the characters manage to embark on interesting, if not outright strange, lives.The Deptford Trilogy’s trajectory is determined by another trajectory, that of a snowball thrown by a boy named Staunton, one of the winners of Canadian society, and probably the entire western world, given his eventual prominence as a businessman during WW2. The stone he threw and where it struck sets off a series of events that are examined from a different character’s perspective in each novella. In the Fifth Business, Dunstable Ramsay, who was the target of Staunton’s snowball, narrates the story, ending with his own rather self-satisfied and successful perspective on Staunton’s much showier and shallower life. Who is the real hero of this story, Ramsay seems to ask? The middle book, The Manticore, is narrated by David Staunton, son of the snowball thrower, whom he greatly admires yet can’t love and doesn’t feel loved by. This section takes the form of a classical psychoanalytic conversation between David and his Jungian analyst in Geneva, with long sections of background that connect the parts of the story in an unbroken narrative web. But David Staunton has a question, and only the reader can determine whether or not it was answered.The last novella in the trilogy, World of Wonders, is ironically and unironically titled and again narrated by Ramsay, but only as a spectator to the remarkable telling of his own life by the magician Magnus Eisengrim (theatrical magic and performance are the context of the third novel), also known as Paul Dempster when he was Ramsay’s childhood friend. This section seems to answer, definitively, the question shouted by David Staunton at the end of Fifth Business.The Deptford Trilogy is about patterns, about internal structures and how they’re reflected in individual and collective lives. Its careful construction reflects its message but also incorporates its share of random cruelty and unforeseeable twists of fate.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tyrran

    The first thing that came to my mind when I finished this books was "thank God that's over with" I really enjoyed this book when I started it, but around 1/2 to 3/4 of the way I just wanted it to end, for me that's normally a bad sign because when I love a book I'm almost depressed to finish it. The book definitely has some clever aspects to it which is easily played upon by Roberston Davies the narration is almost a triptych view of the main characters, But it's heavily based around character The first thing that came to my mind when I finished this books was "thank God that's over with" I really enjoyed this book when I started it, but around 1/2 to 3/4 of the way I just wanted it to end, for me that's normally a bad sign because when I love a book I'm almost depressed to finish it. The book definitely has some clever aspects to it which is easily played upon by Roberston Davies the narration is almost a triptych view of the main characters, But it's heavily based around character subjections and almost feels like I'm reading boring personal diaries who have biased opinions on everything that's said (this inevitably then involves conversations that need 6 characters involved to round out all the subjectivity) What I found really strange is that the books synopsis makes it sound very involved in "Who killed Boy Staunton?" but I honestly forgot about that perspective of the story and was reminded about it 90% through. This is probably mainly to do with the fact that the book is heavily dense in almost frivolous discussions between characters that don't contribute to anything. I have another book by Robertson Davies that I wanted to read...I think I might give myself a lot of time before indulging in that one. The book also reminded me a lot of Paul Auster's book "Mr. Vertigo" rather read that, a much better book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    The Deptford trilogy revolves around the mysterious death (was it murder or suicide?) of businessman Boy Staunton; along the way it tells the life stories of Staunton's boyhood friend, Dunstan Ramsay; of Staunton's son, David; and of enigmatic magician Magnus Eisengrim. Though the books are full of Davies' trademark wit and erudition, I found that they didn't work for me as well as the Cornish trilogy or the Salterton trilogy, and the second (especially) and third books didn't live up to Fifth The Deptford trilogy revolves around the mysterious death (was it murder or suicide?) of businessman Boy Staunton; along the way it tells the life stories of Staunton's boyhood friend, Dunstan Ramsay; of Staunton's son, David; and of enigmatic magician Magnus Eisengrim. Though the books are full of Davies' trademark wit and erudition, I found that they didn't work for me as well as the Cornish trilogy or the Salterton trilogy, and the second (especially) and third books didn't live up to Fifth Business. I thought too many of the characters downright unpleasant (and the lack of important female characters irritating), and though the magic and sleight-of-hand theme was interesting, I find I prefer the academic milieu of the other books to the small town and circus settings of these.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    The Deptford Trilogy--A Canadian Bulgakov, if you can wrap your head around that--magical, dark, comedic, and mysterious. Robertson Davies deserves to be read and reread and reread.

  17. 4 out of 5

    S̶e̶a̶n̶

    We have educated ourselves into a world from which wonder, and the fear and dread and splendour and freedom of wonder have been banished. Of course wonder is costly. You couldn't incorporate it into a modern state, because it is the antithesis of the anxiously worshipped security which is what a modern state is asked to give. Wonder is marvellous but it is also cruel, cruel, cruel. It is undemocratic, discriminatory, and pitiless. (Liesl)Robertson Davies' three-part masterpiece is a sprawling We have educated ourselves into a world from which wonder, and the fear and dread and splendour and freedom of wonder have been banished. Of course wonder is costly. You couldn't incorporate it into a modern state, because it is the antithesis of the anxiously worshipped security which is what a modern state is asked to give. Wonder is marvellous but it is also cruel, cruel, cruel. It is undemocratic, discriminatory, and pitiless. (Liesl)Robertson Davies' three-part masterpiece is a sprawling international tale anchored by robust, multifaceted characters that slide in and out of the text like pop-up figures in a children's book. The first volume often sustained my reading fire for many pages at a sitting. Yet there were also those stretches, as often appear in any long work, where my reading gaze slackened and I pined for more compelling prose. In particular the second volume (The Manticore) was a low point (more like 3 stars), at least until toward the end of it when Davey ends his Jungian therapy and meets up with Ramsay (narrator of the first book) and Liesl (the most intriguing character of them all, yet the one whom we hear from the least), but this is rather late in the book and so comprises only a small percentage of its content. The final volume focuses on the conjuror Magnus Eisengrim, of whom my interest in fluctuated throughout the trilogy. Much of his history, narrated by himself to a small group, was fascinating to read, yet grew less so as it progressed. I must say that I experienced a degree of relief when his overblown tale came to a close. I'd been meaning to read this for years and regrettably I think my taste has now changed to a point where I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have in the past. I fear I've become too jaded in my reading. But it was still just unconventional enough in its telling to keep me interested. I'm glad I read it, if only to know what I would have missed by not reading it. Would I recommend it to others? Yes, in certain cases. Though it certainly falls into the category of realism, it's original enough in both its content and its form to appeal to a pretty wide audience. But would I recommend it to readers who studiously avoid all realist literature in favor of the avant-garde? Probably not, unless I knew the nuances of their reading preferences almost as closely as I know my own.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    My now 81 yr. old father is a misanthropic pack-rat who lives a rich mental life through books while outwardly barely functioning as a decent man. His attic, like his mind, is insulated entirely by books and that is where I discovered Robertson Davies, who I was not expected to understand at age 15. I devoured the trilogy nonetheless and came to understand, if nothing else, the rigidness of sexuality in the first part of the 20th century as well as the religious underpinnings (guilt and an My now 81 yr. old father is a misanthropic pack-rat who lives a rich mental life through books while outwardly barely functioning as a decent man. His attic, like his mind, is insulated entirely by books and that is where I discovered Robertson Davies, who I was not expected to understand at age 15. I devoured the trilogy nonetheless and came to understand, if nothing else, the rigidness of sexuality in the first part of the 20th century as well as the religious underpinnings (guilt and an over-active imagination from lack of real sexual awareness). As a "fallen" Catholic, this resonated, not just at 15 but as a twenty-something and thirty-something, rereading the series. I also, thanks in part to Joseph Campbell, came to understand archetypes through Davies' novels, and to discover and somehow maintain a sense of wonder at the world, which we can never truly fully know. There are only two other people I have met who enjoyed this series, and while that doesn't sound like strong praise, I think it is just that, for these men were of exceptional character. One is a 70+ year old Jewish man in LA who made his fortune writing commercial music but who prefers a solitary, intellectual life—we became fast friends when he saw the book in my bag as we both enjoyed a solitary meal at a cafe. The other is an Irish restauranteur who was born in the wrong generation, marrying a woman not his equal who bore him many children who were raised with one foot in the 1980's and the other in the aughts. Needless to say, there was a strong gender imbalance and the kids were asked to grow up very quickly, to dodge unforgiving furniture in their Victorian house, and to get jobs as soon as it was legal—dynamics that made more sense as I read novels with people and plots hailing from the decades well before the 1950s. Short of reading historical non-fiction, reading Davies does seem to capture the personalities and sentiments of this earlier generation, one to which most of us alive today have no direct line.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Philip Jackson

    As the title implies, this book is actually three novels, Fifth Business, The Manticore and World of Wonders. Although the books differ from each other, they are all linked by the trilogy's central premise. How are we accountable for our actions, however trivial, and how far reaching are the consequences of the decisions we make? Two boys are snowball fighting in a small Canadian town at the turn of the century. One throws a snowball which contains a stone, and misses its target, hitting the As the title implies, this book is actually three novels, Fifth Business, The Manticore and World of Wonders. Although the books differ from each other, they are all linked by the trilogy's central premise. How are we accountable for our actions, however trivial, and how far reaching are the consequences of the decisions we make? Two boys are snowball fighting in a small Canadian town at the turn of the century. One throws a snowball which contains a stone, and misses its target, hitting the pastor's pregnant wife by accident. The blow from the stone precipitates a premature labour, and leaves the pastor's wife incapacitated for the rest of her life. This one event shadows not only the lives of the two boys, but also the child who is born prematurely. It is a burden they will carry through their lives in various forms, and will shape the pattern of their lives. The novels are linked, but can be read independently with no loss of enjoyment. While the first novel is entertaining, the second wasn't really to my taste (Jungian philosophy apparently - I'm no wiser now!), but the third novel, World of Wonders is a remarkable piece of fiction, and by far the best part of the trilogy. This book follows the fortunes of the prematurely born Paul Dempster, his kidnapping by a travelling 'freak' show, and his subsequent career in the theatre. It's worth reading the whole trilogy just for this section, and it is this third novel which lifts the books onto a whole new level.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lara

    I reviewed each of the three books in this trilogy as I finished them, but I figured I'd review the series as a whole as well. I was not looking forward to reading Fifth Business much at all. And, sad to say, it was in large part due to the fact that I hated the first cover I saw of it so much. It's a stupid reason, I know. Anyway, almost as soon as I opened the thing up, I was competely hooked. Davies has such a way with words. It's not an action-packed book by any stretch of the imagination. I reviewed each of the three books in this trilogy as I finished them, but I figured I'd review the series as a whole as well. I was not looking forward to reading Fifth Business much at all. And, sad to say, it was in large part due to the fact that I hated the first cover I saw of it so much. It's a stupid reason, I know. Anyway, almost as soon as I opened the thing up, I was competely hooked. Davies has such a way with words. It's not an action-packed book by any stretch of the imagination. It's a quiet, complex story, told gradually, but infused with such a sense of mystery and magic that I really felt like Davies had cast a spell over me. I devoured it and could not wait to read the next book in the series. In a way, I don't think either of the follow-ups quite match the elegance of the first book, but the second one I loved almost as much, and there are great parts in the third one as well. And in the end, I think it's a really fascinating story beautifully told, and I will admit that I am half in love with the late Robertson Davies. Heh... Anyway, I am most definitely looking forwarding to reading his other works (I have most of them already purchased and ready and waiting on my bookshelf at home). But I'm going to give this series time to really sink in first. A+++

  21. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Just recalled this author and the best of his trilogies. Read the review...the books are elegant, cleverly funny, inventive, never predicable...great reads! I would love to read and discuss with you!! THIS IS ANOTHER TRILOGY WE HAD DISCUSSED READING TOGETHER...I AM CURIOUS AS TO HOW I WILL LIKE THE READ, THE SECOND TIME AROUND.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nate D

    I found these to be a strangely smooth, soothing reading experience. Plus, I got to learn about obscure hagiography and Jungian psychoanalysis.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vishnu

    This is tough to say but I think I feel a little let down by this trilogy. It came well recommended by people I really respect and the first volume convinced me that I wasn't misled in taking it up. A great panorama of the time and place (and not many wrote about Canada then, just as they don't now or maybe we just don't get to read many). And in that same first volume, we're introduced to these very intriguing characters, a grandiose narrator writing letters to someone else who may never read This is tough to say but I think I feel a little let down by this trilogy. It came well recommended by people I really respect and the first volume convinced me that I wasn't misled in taking it up. A great panorama of the time and place (and not many wrote about Canada then, just as they don't now or maybe we just don't get to read many). And in that same first volume, we're introduced to these very intriguing characters, a grandiose narrator writing letters to someone else who may never read them and ends with a nice old surprise twist in the tale. Pretty flawless as far as first books in a series go. What hurts then is how book 2 and 3 let me down completely. It's interesting that each of the three books have a different style owing to, primarily, a different narrator but the tale the subsequent volumes tell just dulls gradually until it becomes a damp squib of a story. If I look at it objectively, the core of the story is told in the first part and the last few pages of the third, which makes the rest of it seems supremely extraneous and a tremendous waste of page count and time. It's not like the motivations and stories of characters are unraveled smartly; they're just simply enumerated one after painful another and that's what made me feel, by the end, like I were crawling, on my hands and feet, over the finish line of a marathon and half which I'd run for no reason or pleasure.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mollie

    This is a tough one to review. I can absolutely appreciate the genius of taking one childhood incident and spinning up a really lengthy story about how it impacts the characters lives and shapes who they become. Parts of the story flew by and are so beautifully written. Other sections were just a slog. The main characters are decidedly unlikeable people and at some points I just didnt much care what happened to them. 3.5 stars for what is an admittedly superbly written trilogy, just one that I This is a tough one to review. I can absolutely appreciate the genius of taking one childhood incident and spinning up a really lengthy story about how it impacts the characters’ lives and shapes who they become. Parts of the story flew by and are so beautifully written. Other sections were just a slog. The main characters are decidedly unlikeable people and at some points I just didn’t much care what happened to them. 3.5 stars for what is an admittedly superbly written trilogy, just one that I only truly enjoyed about 50% of the time. Rounding down to 3 for the disgustingly creepy pedophile circus magician, yuck.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chris Blocker

    The Deptford Trilogy is comprised of three books. (Go figure!) They are Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders. This is my first outing with the author, Robertson Davies, but apparently he was big on trilogies. He wrote all of his novels as part of a cycle comprised of three books. The Deptford Trilogy, finished in 1975, was his second. Generally, I do not read multi-volume works (I want the credit for having read each book after all), but in the case of Davies, it seemed The Deptford Trilogy is comprised of three books. (Go figure!) They are Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders. This is my first outing with the author, Robertson Davies, but apparently he was big on trilogies. He wrote all of his novels as part of a cycle comprised of three books. The Deptford Trilogy, finished in 1975, was his second. Generally, I do not read multi-volume works (I want the credit for having read each book after all), but in the case of Davies, it seemed appropriate. From the moment I first heard of this book, I thought of The Deptford Trilogy as one complete novel. And maybe that's a mistake, because while the three novels that make up this trilogy tell one complete story, each is done in such a differing manner that thoughts and opinions on each novel vary widely. So let's briefly take a look at each novel... Fifth Business is superb. Davies created some wonderful characters and placed them in a story that is always moving. This first one is narrated by Dunstan Ramsay, a character who is close to the story and grows with it. Overall, the pace is great, though it drags a little in the second half. So much happens in this first novel. Other than the lack of a fully satisfying conclusion, Fifth Business easily stands on its own as a novel. The second novel, The Manticore, slows everything down. The narrative switches to a character on the fringe of the story, the son of Boy Staunton. David Staunton, a tiresome attorney, relays the details of his life to his therapist. Doesn't sound that exciting, does it? It's not. Largely, this second book is not needed for the larger story. Sure, it adds some questions about the subjectivity of Ramsay's story, and gives the reader a different perspective. As David is just a priggish bore, however, The Manticore lacks the drive of the first novel. World of Wonders returns the narrative to Ramsay, but as a channel through which Paul Dempster tells his story. This trilogy is all about the relationship between Dunstan, Boy, and Dempster, so it's nice that it returns to focus on these three in the third book. This final volume is not as riveting as the first, but it adds some dimension to it in providing a perspective previously unseen. World of Wonders is a satisfying conclusion to a story that has its high points and low points. Looking at The Deptford Trilogy as a whole, what's startling to me looking back is the simplicity of the story. After over 800 pages, I realize this story is really all about the snowball that is thrown on page 2. Sure, it's also a story about myth, madness, and magic, but it's all wrapped up in that snow-covered stone. That single toss of a snowball has a dramatic effect on these characters, and Davies does a fabulous job of allowing that one act to haunt the rest of the story. This is an excellent display of storytelling. I will assuredly have a go at another of Davies’ trilogies, though whether I read it as one volume or as three has yet to be decided.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Parksy

    Wonderful trilogy - my favorite of Davies trilogies... ------ From Amazon.com "Who killed Boy Staunton?" This is the question that lies at the heart of Robertson Davies's elegant trilogy comprising Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders. Indeed, Staunton's death is the central event of each of the three novels, and Rashomon-style, each circles round to view it from a different perspective. In the first book, Fifth Business, Davies introduces us to Dunstan Ramsey and his "lifelong friend Wonderful trilogy - my favorite of Davies trilogies... ------ From Amazon.com "Who killed Boy Staunton?" This is the question that lies at the heart of Robertson Davies's elegant trilogy comprising Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders. Indeed, Staunton's death is the central event of each of the three novels, and Rashomon-style, each circles round to view it from a different perspective. In the first book, Fifth Business, Davies introduces us to Dunstan Ramsey and his "lifelong friend and enemy, Percy Boyd Staunton," both aged 10. It is a winter evening in the small Canadian village of Deptford, and Ramsey and Boy have quarreled. In a rage, Boy throws a snowball with a stone in it, misses his friend and hits the Baptist minister's pregnant wife by mistake. She becomes hysterical and later that night delivers her child prematurely, a baby with birth defects. Even worse, she loses her mind. The snowball, the stone, the deformed baby christened Paul Dempster--this is the secret guilt that will bind Ramsey and Staunton together through their long lives: I was perfectly sure, you see, that the birth of Paul Dempster, so small, so feeble, and troublesome, was my fault. If I had not been so clever, so sly, so spiteful in hopping in front of the Dempsters just as Percy Boyd Staunton threw that snowball at me from behind, Mrs. Dempster would not have been struck. Did I never think that Percy was guilty? Indeed I did. Boy, however, "would fight, lie, do anything rather than admit" he feels guilty, too, and so the subject remains unresolved between them right up until the night Boy's body is found in his car, in a lake, with a stone in his mouth. The second novel, The Manticore, follows Staunton's son, David, through a course of Jungian therapy in Switzerland, while World of Wonders concentrates on Magnus Eisengrim, a renowned magician and hypnotist with ties to both Ramsey and Boy Staunton. When it came to writing, three was Davies's favorite number. Before the Deptford books, he wrote The Salterton Trilogy (Tempest-Tost, Leaven of Malice, A Mixture of Frailties), and after it came The Cornish Trilogy (The Rebel Angels, What's Bred in the Bone, The Lyre of Orpheus). Excellent as these and Davies's other novels are, The Deptford Trilogy is arguably the masterpiece for which he'll best be remembered, as the combination of magic, archetype, and good, old-fashioned human frailty at work in these novels is a world of wonders unto itself, and guarantees these three books a permanent place among the great books of our time. --Alix Wilber Book Description Fifth Business Ramsay is a man twice born, a man who has returned from the hell of the battle-grave at Passchendaele in World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross and destined to be caught in a no man's land where memory, history, and myth collide. As Ramsay tells his story, it begins to seem that from boyhood, he has exerted a perhaps mystical, perhaps pernicious, influence on those around him. His apparently innocent involvement in such innocuous events as the throwing of a snowball or the teaching of card tricks to a small boy in the end prove neither innocent nor innocuous. Fifth Business stands alone as a remarkable story told by a rational man who discovers that the marvelous is only another aspect of the real. The Manticore Around a mysterious death is woven a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived trilogy of novels. Luring the reader down labyrinthine tunnels of myth, history and magic, THE DEPTFORD TRILOGY provides an exhilarating antidote to a world from where 'the fear and dread and splendour of wonder have been banished'. World of Wonders This is the third novel in Davies's major work, The Deptford Trilogy. This novel tells the life story of the unfortunate boy introduced in The Fifth Business, who was spirited away from his Canadian home by one of the members of a traveling side show, the Wanless World of Wonders.

  27. 5 out of 5

    August

    I guess I was at something of a low point when this book called to me from my shelves. My copy looked awful, bent and blackened, and it was only on a whim that I, a month or so earlier, decided to relieve my parents shelves of it where it had stood for 10years with little hope of being read again. That my current state should make me call for the Deptford Trilogy made perfect sense. I had read all of Robertson-Davies novels during a 2 year period about a decade or so ago. Murther and walking I guess I was at something of a low point when this book called to me from my shelves. My copy looked awful, bent and blackened, and it was only on a whim that I, a month or so earlier, decided to relieve my parents shelves of it where it had stood for 10years with little hope of being read again. That my current state should make me call for the Deptford Trilogy made perfect sense. I had read all of Robertson-Davies novels during a 2 year period about a decade or so ago. Murther and walking spirits fell into my hands by chance and after reading it I thirsted for more. Reading Robertson Davies felt like sitting in a room alone with a compassionate and wise uncle who told you stories that touched upon so many important questions a young man has about life. It was nourishment for the soul as well as a good read. The Deptford Trilogy did not disappoint the second time around either and it felt great to revisit an important book a decade later. I remember feeling so safe as a reader in RD's fictional world and upon rereading I found that the main reason for this was the cohesive and logical storyline. I am sure that RD spent a good time planning the novel before he started writing it and in an interview for CBC (that is available on youtube) he admits as much. RD puts a great emphasis on the story which, I suppose, is what makes the books a "good read". He also invests a lot in the characters, but, and this is another reason why one feels so safe and comfortable in his world, he always maintains a certain distance from them, and even when the characters do vicious things the calm, sympathetic tone of the narration is never disturbed. The style is straightforward and very readable. There is plenty of humour, although wit is probably what RD would have preferred to call it himself. If I had to name some faults (and I suppose I always do) I think they mostly have to do with what I feel is an overemphasis on the storyline. The dialogue in those big dinner scenes and the like also seemed a little contrived and I, for one, did not bother to memorize, or backpedal to reacquaint myself with, the many smaller characters in Eisengrim's circus or theater groups.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    I don't read; I re-read. The first time I read a book it's an audition. And the finest pleasure offered by this habit is to read a familiar, beloved work and find that it's better than you thought. I was traveling this last while, and so reread The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies for perhaps the fifth or sixth time. I'd first read it out of order, and that jostling affected all later readings. This time I took it in as a single novel in three parts, and it was much more ambitious and I don't read; I re-read. The first time I read a book it's an audition. And the finest pleasure offered by this habit is to read a familiar, beloved work and find that it's better than you thought. I was traveling this last while, and so reread The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies for perhaps the fifth or sixth time. I'd first read it out of order, and that jostling affected all later readings. This time I took it in as a single novel in three parts, and it was much more ambitious and meaningful in that context. It is a book concerned with one of my lifelong fascinations, the way that story, especially myth, and life intertwine and affect one another. It's set in the early part of the twentieth century, and revolves around the mysterious death of a sugar magnate, and the response of a stage magician asked who had killed the man. It uses Davie's favorite form, the story of the development of the artist, repeatedly, in interlocking fashion. Elements, plot mechanisms, and a certain amount of cuteness that had previously raised an eyebrow took on a different flavor now that I've wrestled with the problem of fiction myself. The limitations, levitations, and structural functionality Davies drew from old-fashioned melodrama now remind me of what I draw from the genre fiction of 1850 to 1970, and I regard them with interest and affection. In addition, life experiences allowed me to view almost every major element the story from a more intimate perspective, and it seemed to reflect my own life in an eerie fashion. Which I think would please the author. It's a pretty terrific book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Klein

    I picked up a battered mass market paperback copy of FIFTH BUSINESS off the street in May, on the simple principle that I had heard good things about it and it was free, and stuck it in my bag as lightweight (size wise) reading for a trip to Arizona in June. These were both excellent spur of the moment decisions -- the very kind of tiny choices that Davies writes about here as influencing our whole lives. If Boy Staunton hadn't thrown the stone... If Dunstan Ramsey hadn't ducked... If Mrs. Dempster I picked up a battered mass market paperback copy of FIFTH BUSINESS off the street in May, on the simple principle that I had heard good things about it and it was free, and stuck it in my bag as lightweight (size wise) reading for a trip to Arizona in June. These were both excellent spur of the moment decisions -- the very kind of tiny choices that Davies writes about here as influencing our whole lives. If Boy Staunton hadn't thrown the stone... If Dunstan Ramsey hadn't ducked... If Mrs. Dempster hadn't been hit, and given birth prematurely to her son Paul ... Thus do these four people's fates entwine. But while the trilogy does focus on the inner characters that impel our choices, it also pays great honor to the unknowable in those characters and in the world around them -- the mysteries of our psychology, and of what some of these characters would call fate and others God. Everyone was fully drawn and alive on the page, and Davies's prose crackles like the Swiss mountain air in which much of THE MANTICORE and WORLD OF WONDERS are set. My favorite remains FIFTH BUSINESS, which combined the focused narrator of the second book with the wide-ranging story of the third, and at less length than either; but all three were wonderfully mind-opening & refreshing to read. A friend on Twitter told me Robertson Davies is "the Gabriel Garcia Marquez of Canada," and that seems right.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Petra

    A wonderful trilogy. "Fifth Business" is another delightful Davies story. This one follows the life of Dunstan Ramsay as he tells his story. Small events of no apparant importance come back in large, important ways. I enjoyed "The Manticore", which is told from David Stauntons point of view. It has some overlap with Fifth Business but Davids point of view and makes them complete. David tries to come to terms with his relationship with his father through therapy. Some of the same characters come A wonderful trilogy. "Fifth Business" is another delightful Davies story. This one follows the life of Dunstan Ramsay as he tells his story. Small events of no apparant importance come back in large, important ways. I enjoyed "The Manticore", which is told from David Staunton’s point of view. It has some overlap with Fifth Business but David’s point of view and makes them complete. David tries to come to terms with his relationship with his father through therapy. Some of the same characters come back and are seen through David’s eyes, which changes them to the reader’s eye, too, by rounding & fleshing them out. In "World of Wonders", Paul Dempster's account of his life is interesting and, at times, rather long-winded. This final book of the Deptford Trilogy did tie up all loose ends but was the most philosophical of the three books. At times, tediously so. Paul had the most interesting story to tell and yet this wasn't the most interesting of the three books. I enjoyed this trilogy and would recommend it. Of all of Davies' characters in this trilogy, Paul rose from the deepest depths to the highest pinnacles. A good story of triumph and acceptance, through diversity.

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