Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Rebel Angels, Robertson Davies

Why I chose it: It's the first in a trilogy, the second of which was nominated for the Booker Prize.

Podcasts: None, which is disappointing, since I thought the CBC would have at least a few episodes about one of the great men of Canadian letters.

Brow: Even if you're Canadian, reading Robertson Davies makes you upper middle brow. Non-Canadians can call themselves high brow for this one.

Summary: Rich art collector Francis Cornish dies. His will reads that three university professors: Clement Hollier, Urqhart McVarish and Simon Darcourt are to catalogue his collection for the various beneficiaries. While this work is going on, John Parbalane, a mischief-making ex-monk shows up in Hollier's office and finds his graduate student, Maria Theotky. All four men and Cornish's nephew Arthur are intrigued by the beautiful Maria.

What I liked about it: Any scenes between Parbalane and Maria. Normally Maria is a very buttoned-up serious type who just wants to get on with her work on Rabelais, but when she meets an actual character straight out of Gargantua and Pantagruel, her reserve crumbles and she finds herself screaming racist drinking songs at the top of her lungs. We should all have such a friend.

What I didn't like about it: The novel switches between several narrators and it's often impossible to tell for a few pages whose head we're inside, which I find confusing.

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