Book report #16 (2017)

A Mixture of Frailties, by Robertson Davies. Pub 1958

This completes the Salterton Trilogy for me, and I was delighted with all three books.

I don’t know if other authors previously had worked in the trifecta format, but Davies does it masterfully, allowing the old and new characters in the newer books to blend pretty seamlessly with the ongoing ones, and with the provincial setting of Salterton, ON. This latest books was especially appealing to me, as its main story is about an aspiring singer – or at least one who is deemed aspiration-worthy by the little folk of Salterton. Her adventures amongst both the elite and the bohemian of mid-20th Century England are entertaining and enlightening, and while she never emerges as a heroine (and feminism is not even a glint her eye), she sustains throughout the story and eventually defines herself on her own terms and decides what she wants rather than what is expected of her.

I was also pleased at how easy I found Davies to read. I delight in his extensive vocabulary and complex but appropriate sentences, and his dialogue and wry descriptions of things are candid and witty, with laugh-out-loud moments. I’m currently also reading another novel by an author for whom Davies was a bit of a hero, and I can certainly see the influences from one to the other (more when I finish that book and write a report). Davies is also staunchly Canadian, although not above seeing Canadians as the very caricatures that others see – all maple syrup and beaver lodges; through these, one can see and feel his love and admiration for the diversity of Canada, and how no one person could possible represent the entire spectrum of the nation.

For a healthy dose of Canadiana, as well as a very well done story, I highly recommend these (The Lyre of Orpheus and Murther and Walking Spirits are also excellent).

7. A book written by a male author

13. A book set somewhere you’ve never been

24. A book written by someone younger than you (Davies was 45 at the time this was published)

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