Shireen McQuade's Reviews > Fifth Business

Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
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's review
Apr 26, 2009

it was amazing
Read in March, 2007

This book is required reading at Robinson HS in 12th Grade, and rightly so. Written by the most famous of Canadian authors, in prose so beautifully crafted and infused with Davies inimitable wit, it tells the story of two boyhood friends, one wealthy, handsome, a boy who has everything, and his envious friend, the less affluent narrator. The narrator witnesses his friend, at the age of eight, throw a snow ball at a pregnant woman whose life is changed for the worse thereafter. The narrator feels a sense of duty to this woman whom he admires as being a free thinker, an innocent and naive woman whose pureness of heart, and a tenuous grasp on reality, leads her to an inexplicable act that actually transforms for the better another person's life. This story deals with the common human condition of envying someone whom we think to be superior to us on every level only to learn, with the test of time, that the person, like us, is flawed, human. It also teaches the most important of all lessons, compassion and kindness, and how such attributes, applied to those less fortunate, can transform lives, even when that which is given out of compassion and kindness, is deemed shameful by society. A beautifully written book.

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