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Fifth Business (Deptford Trilogy) by…

Fifth Business (Deptford Trilogy) (original 1970; edition 1977)

by Robertson Davies

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,156543,017 (4.2)1 / 194
Title:Fifth Business (Deptford Trilogy)
Authors:Robertson Davies
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (1977), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:canadian, fiction

Work details

Fifth Business by Robertson Davies (1970)


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English (47)  Spanish (5)  Catalan (2)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
The book grabbed my interest from the start, mainly due to the writing, and while the story didn't always engage me, the book has me wanting more from the author, and it's very likely I will read the rest of this series in the near future.

What I liked best about the book was the writing, it hooked me in from the start and kept me reading to the end. I will definitely read the rest of the books in the trilogy and probably everything else by the author, as the writing and storytelling was just that good.

The only snag was this particular book lost me part of the way through. While I enjoyed the story, I did feel that there were parts that dragged on and I was hoping the story would move faster. I also found there wasn't a character I really enjoyed, I didn't dislike any of them, but there wasn't a character that stuck with me. With that being said, the characters were very complex and full of depth, they just didn't jump out at me, which usually happens when the author has similar style to Davies. Overall, it was a good book, and one that is well worth reading, I will definitely be adding the author to the top of my CanLit reading list.

Also found on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - Fifth Business ( )
  bookwormjules | Jul 27, 2014 |

Although I understood the story, I felt like there were many layers to it that I was just missing. What I did like was how real the people and places were.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
A book that is tightly written and plotted. A book that has all the essentials of a great read. I can see why it's considered a Canadian classic. ( )
  charlie68 | Jun 29, 2014 |
so, so great! this is, i think, a master class in fiction writing, and a really fantastic story. classic for a reason!

though i consider davies one of my favourite writers, i have not read this novel for a long, long time. a long time. so i was nervous - worried i wouldn't love it as much as i think i do. but it was amazing and i love it still with even stronger appreciation now. i can't imagine this book being taught successfully to most high school students - and my teacher did do a great job. there is just so much going on in this book that, with time allotted on a curriculum, would - i think - barely cover the basics. ( )
  DawsonOakes | May 19, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this book, I read somewhere that is was the idea for John Irving's book "A Prayer for Owen Meany", but really apart from the freak accident at the start of the book it was nothing like it at all! Still very absorbing though. Dunny Ramsey and Boy Staunton had a sort of Love/hate relationship from childhood, when coming back from sledding one day after an argument Boy threw a snowball at Dunny containing a stone, Dunny ducked and it hit Mrs Dempster inducing early labour and leaving her with mental problems. Here is where the story really starts. The guilt of one, the selfish thoughtlessness of the other and the results of the hideous consequences of the last.
Dunny becomes a teacher and somewhat of an expert on saints writing books about them. Boy becomes a well heeled business man and later a powerful political mogul. The baby born prematurely Paul becomes a master of prestidigitation and goes on to have a fairly important part in the story . With a very unexpected ending.
Quite in depth and full of very profound observations about the differences of spiritualism and down right materialism. I really liked it. ( )
  Glorybe1 | Apr 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
"A marvelously enigmatic novel, then, elegantly written and driven by irresistible narrative force."

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robertson Daviesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Godwin, GailIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Fifth Business ... Definition
Those roles which, being neither those of
Hero nor Heroine, Confidante nor Villain,
but were none the less essential to
bring about the Recognition or the denouement
were called the Fifth Business in drama
and opera companies organized according
to the old style; the player who acted these
parts was often referred to as Fifth Business.
- Tho. Overskou, Den Danske Skueplads
First words
My lifelong involvement with Mrs Dempster began at 5:58 o'clock p.m. on 27 December 1908, at which time I was ten years and seven months old.
" ... You despise almost everyone except Paul's mother. No wonder she seems like a saint to you; you have made her carry the affection you should have spread among fifty people. Do not look at me with that tragic face. You should thank me. At fifty years old you should be glad to know something of yourself. That horrid village and your hateful Scots family made you a moral monster. Well, it is not too late for you to enjoy a few years of almost normal humanity."
Last words
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary
Wherein a small stone
acts as an antagonist
in a charming book

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141186151, Paperback)

The first novel in Davies's celebrated "Deptford Trilogy" introduces Ramsay, a man who returns from World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross who is destined to be caught in a no man's land where memory, history, and myth collide.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:38 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"Ramsay is a man twice born, a man who has returned from the hell of the battle-grave at Passchendaele in World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross, and destined to be caught in a no-man's-land where memory, history, and myth collide. As Ramsay tells his story, it begins to seem that from boyhood he has exerted a perhaps mystical, perhaps pernicious influence on those around him." -- Back cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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Average: (4.2)
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