The Cunning Man (Toronto Trilogy #2)
"Should I have taken the false teeth?" This is what Dr. Jonathan Hullah, a former police surgeon, thinks after he watches Father Hobbes die in front of the High Altar at Toronto's St. Aidan's on the morning of Good Friday. How did the good father die? We do not learn the answer until the last pages of this "Case Book" of a man's rich and highly observant life. But we learn...more
Mr. Davies provides his own review of his novel with the last paragraphs of the book:
"The telephone rings. My intuition suggests a wrong number. Not that great intuition is needed; a nearby new cinema has been granted a number that is only one digit away from mine, and wrong numbers are common. This i ...more
Not a bad opening sentence for a novel in which all the action is precipitated by the death at the altar on Good Friday of a beloved priest in Toronto's high church Anglican parish of St Aidan's. The narrator, the cunning man of the title, Dr Hullah, has been a police surgeon and he has his suspicions about the sudden death of the old man. But his friend from childhood, Father Charlie Iredale, won't let him beyond the communion rail and the doctor does noth ...more
While the book was enjoyable it is a very slow reading book. I believe it was written int the late 40's early 50's and the writing style reflects th ...more
The book spans the seventy years of Hullah's life from his own encounter with a Wise Woman following his miraculous recovery from scarlet feaver to the autumn of his life as a medical practitioner caring for his long-time friend Charlie ...more
The Cunning Man is an enthralling tale of a city - nay, a parish within a city - and its denizens. It's a murder mystery but the event that triggers Dr Hullah's memoire is not much of a mystery. It's the story of a man who learns so much in his life but who ultimately realises that he still failed to att ...more
"I was a lonely child, but I liked loneliness and I like it still. Despite my mother I was a woods child, and what the woods taught me is still at the heart of my life." (p.18)
"I fell in love with beautiful books, and now, as an old man, I have a harem which is by no means tri ...more
Full thoughts are posted on Erin Reads.
The early years of Jon Hullah I found a bit boring - his years in Sioux Lookout-, and it seemed as if they were written just to get them out of the way. I didn't find them particularly compelling, the descriptions of the Metis (Mrs. Smoke and Eddu) come across as Hullah thinking he is much greater than them. The arrogance of youth, one could suppose.
The descript ...more
But reason prevailed. I finally took the half-read book back to the library. Sorry, Mr. Davies.
The following are reasons that I kept reading as long as I did:
[W]hile I would not say a word against that great, underestimated master, [Tchaikowsky] certainly isn't Bach, who was my special, an
BMJ 20 October 2007 v355 p829
retired consultant physician, Oxfordshire
“Should I have taken the false teeth?” Thus, the curt opening of The Cunning Man by Robertson Davies, typical of Ca ...more