Customer Reviews for

Fifth Business

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    One of the classic books of Canadian Literature

    I feel that this book by Robertson Davies is one of the classics of Canadian Literature. It is an extremely well written book that although short in length, covers the entire life span of the protagonist. It beautifully captures Canada during the first half of the 20th Century. The story weaves us through the complexities of life in a small Canadian town, the politics of a private boys school, the horrors of World War II, and travels to many exotic locations in Europe and South America. Universal themes of love, loss, family, and circumstance are explored. Other interesting elements of this book include the study of hagiology and magic. This book is a must read.

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  • Posted April 28, 2009

    A Schoolmaster's Last Say

    I haven't read all of the trilogy but found this while searching for works dealing with World War I. Surprisingly, it combined a story of a retired school master with that of a WWI vet. If you like school-teacher-stories -- To Serve Them All My Days and the like, this will satisfy you. If you are looking for World War I material, this is a little light in content as it covers the man's entire life. Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves is a better WWI read. BUT, that said, it is an interesting and easy way to pass a few hours on a summer afternoon and is filled with interesting characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2001

    Fantastically interesting!

    The protagonist is understandable, likeable and SO smart! He goes all over the place, gets interested in hagiography/the classification of saints and is confidante to one of the richest, most powerful men in the Dominion of Canada. A great, easy read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2001

    It All Begins With 'Fifth Business'

    No one has yet written the Great Canadian Novel, but in Fifth Business, World of Wonders and the Manticore, Robertson Davies may have given us something like the Great Interlinked Canadian Trilogy. I would recommend you buy the paperback Fifth Business/World of Wonders/Manticore trilogy. It only costs a little more than buying Fifth Business by itself, and more than likely you'll want to read the other books once you've finished Fifth Business. Fifth Business is the novel with which to start. The book's central figure is schoolteacher Dunstan Ramsay, who grew up in the tiny village of Deptford in the sugar-beet growing district of Southwestern Ontario. The town's pretty boy-slash-bully Percy Boyd Staunton hits the minister's wife with a snowball containing a rock, which causes her to go into premature labor and give birth to the underweight Paul Dempster. (This is an early 20th Century level of obstetrics, you understand.) The rest of the book is a fascinating weave of Canadian social and political history from the 1910s thru the 1960s as Dunstan, Paul and Percy Boyd (now the raffish 'Boy') Staunton are pushed together by the whims of fate. Boy and Paul become world famous in very different ways. Not bad for two kids from the sticks and Dunstan, the humble schoolteacher, has reason to envy them. Or does he? A 'fifth business' is theater talk for a leavener, a kind of enzyme agent that, while not significant in itself, makes other things happen. In the telling, both the reader and Dunstan himself come to appreciate the life he has led.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2000


    Interestin right from the beginning. Apparently Robertson Davies is an intellectual. The reader may not understand the symbolism but still readable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2000

    A masterfully plotted novel

    And best of all, it's the first of a triology! Magical, mysterious, it is about the strange murder of Boy Staunton. Compelling, from the beginning to the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 1999


    I thought that Fifth Business was one of the most amazing, original novels I have ever read! Davies gets right to the point. I love the fact that the event most important to the story happens within the fist page of the novel. The characters are original, and the story is pure brilliance!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2009

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