Timothy Dean's Reviews > Fifth Business

Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
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Apr 15, 10


Robertson Davies, Professor and man of letters: I enjoyed this book thoroughly, both when I read it several decades ago, and last year. His characters and storytelling are elegant and unforgettable. "Fifth Business" is a theater term that means, on stage, a character whose function is to bring about the key action. Dustan Ramsey, the fictional teller of the story, is "fifth business." He knows all about a stone in a snowball that hits a woman (who may be a saint) and causes her to lose her mind.

I enjoy writers who have deep knowledge of other subjects, and who weave it into a rip-roaring yarn: Davies is such a writer. From hagiology (the study of saints), to Jungian archetypes, to the stage production of magic, it is all here.

"Fifth Business" is the first in the Deptford Trilogy. These days you can pick these up for a pittance on Amazon and elsewhere, and others in the Robertson Davies' repertoire.

If you haven't yet read Davies, I'd describe him as a Canadian Charles Dickens -- although he is both small town and cosmopolitan.
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