Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fifth Business

Fifth Business (Penguin Classics) Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

Book 44 of 50 for the New Author Challenge
Awards: Fifth Business was selected 40th on the American Modern Library's "reader's list" of the 100 best novels of the 20th century.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book in a trilogy about the Canadian town of Deptford. The novel is written as a letter to the headmaster of a school where the narrator, Dunstan Ramsay, was a schoolmaster. Ramsay essentially tells the story of his life, beginning with a snowball thrown by Percy "Boy" Staunton that was meant for him. Instead, Dunny ducked and the snowball hit the pregnant wife of a local pastor that caused her to have her baby prematurely.

As time goes on, Dunstan serves in WW1, develops an obsession with saints, is drawn to the circus, and maintains his friendship with Boy, who is now wealthy and politically influential.

There is a reason this book, written in 1970, deserves to be a classic. I thought I would breeze through its 250 pages, but this is a book to savor. There were entire pages that I read multiple times and I would like to read them again with a highlighter in hand. I think the conversations Dunstan shared with a Jesuit priest were my favorite parts. The book was multi-layered and had wonderful character explorations and depth. It explored themes of spirituality, religion, morality, honesty, hard work, duty, chance, guilt, and the position we occupy in the grand role of life.

The book is a kind of mystery, but I had to follow the plot twists and turns to the very end to realize what the mystery was all about. The ending was wonderful and I will definitely be looking into the next books in this series in the future. Highly recommended for those looking for a masterfully-written adult novel with intriguing psychological and philosophical bents.

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Source: BookMooch

8 comments:

Andi said...

Yea! A book we both love! ;) I just started the 2nd book and cannot put it down. I don't reread books much, but I might have to with this book. I feel like there is so much I missed the first time through...

bermudaonion said...

You're so right - there's a reason why some books last so long and others fade away. This one sounds great!

Kathleen said...

This one sounds wonderful and I must confess...I have never heard of it! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Tricia said...

Andi: Thanks to you bringing them to my attention, we both love Sotah and These Is My Words too. :)

Kathy: Whoever at Penguin decided to make this a classic was right.

Kathleen: I hadn't heard of it either! It's my online book club's choice this month. Thanks for stopping by!

Jeanette said...

This sounds somewhat familiar to me but I've never read it. Probably read about it on another blog...
It does sound like a book I need to check out.

Shona said...

Book does look like something that has to be read.Thanks for the review.

Veens said...

Wow! sounds like a great read !!

S. Mehrens said...

I've never heard of this book, thanks for the great review. I'm curious to check it out.

Btw, I've awarded you the Superior Scribbler Award, check it out here: http://libraryhospital.blogspot.com/2009/12/library-is-hospital-for-mind-receives.html