Who wants to read Robertson Davies?



A couple of days ago I saw the following tweet by librarian Nancy Pearl:

Well, I’ve read all of Robertson Davies’s novels, and as much of his nonfiction as I could get my hands on, and even his published diaries and letters and a biography … you could call me a fan. I agree with Nancy Pearl that he deserves more attention, and I’ve been surprised at the lack of coverage he gets within our usually literate book blogging community. I’ve been thinking for some time about doing a Robertson Davies Reading Week, to celebrate one of my favorite writers, and help introduce him to some new readers.

When should it happen? I’m thinking maybe in August, to celebrate his birthday — or perhaps earlier in the summer. It will be a pretty free-form event, with posts focusing on various books and the chance to share thoughts about whatever you may have been reading yourself.

I have some bloggers in mind to ask for guest posts, but if you’d like to volunteer, please let me know. In the meantime, go to your local bookstore or library and get whatever RD material you can. You can read my post about Tempest Tost to learn more about why I think he’s so great.

Who would like to join me? Let’s give Nancy one less thing to be depressed about!

Linked in the Book Blog Discussion Challenge hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!

40 thoughts on “Who wants to read Robertson Davies?

  1. I’d like to join, please! I recently bought a copy of his Deptford Trilogy and fancy giving that a go in the next few months—the beginning of June would suit me for discussion as I’m hoping to focus on SF/fantasy for May.

    I was drawn to the trilogy by researching wolves for Dido and Pa and discovering that the name Eisengrim featured in both Aiken’s novel and the third volume of Davies’ sequence. As Joan’s mother was Canadian, and Joan herself a voracious reader, I was intrigued, and the online descriptions of Davies’ trilogy had me further hooked!


    1. Well of course I was hoping you would join, Chris! As a belated edit to the above, I was thinking of pushing back to August (RD’s birth month) … but June might also work. I think May is too soon for me in any case.

      Glad to have you along and I’m pretty certain you’ll be delighted by what you discover.


    1. Count me in, Lory. I read the Cornish Trilogy a couple of summers ago, and I’m ready for a something new by Davies. June or August or whenever.


  2. I’ve never read anything by Robertson Davies, but I’ve always been curious about his books, so this would be a good opportunity for me to try one.


  3. I tried, because people I trusted said I would enjoy his work. I brought The Deptford Trilogy on a transatlantic flight and did not like it at all. I don’t remember why as it was many years ago (magical realism?) but I had to go on doggedly reading because I had only one other book. I think I donated it to the Shakespeare bookstore in Paris and bought several others. Had Kindle existed then I probably would have paid anything to buy an alternative.

    However, I will be interested to hear about your experience, which I hope is more positive.


    1. I hate that when you have to keep reading something you don’t really like because it’s the only book available! E-readers do help us to get out of that particular dilemma these days.

      Not everybody gets on with him — there are readers who don’t understand this enthusiasm at all. Not sure why, but perhaps we’ll find out in the course of our reading week.


  4. I would like to join you as well, Lory. I have never read anything by Davies and this would be a great opportunity to discover an author who is new to me and to read along with others which is always fun!


  5. I would be interested in reading along. In particular I’m interested in reading The Fifth Business, but maybe only because that’s that title I hear bandied about the most?

    I’m always up for reading/discovering more Canadian authors!


    1. Many people have not heard of him, and I think that’s a shame! I hope you’ll find something to interest you — in witnessing our enthusiasm, if nothing else.


  6. Ooh, great idea! I’d love to read some more Robertson Davies, or even reread what I’ve already read (which isn’t a lot, to be fair). I wouldn’t be able to take part unless it’s after April, as my copies (read and unread) are all in my parents’ house and I can’t visit until then. But if that’s too late for you I could always post late…


    1. Definitely not April, I’m away half the month! I’m leaning towards August now, though I’ll announce a decision soon. So gather up your copies and get ready for some summer reading.


  7. I adore Robertson Davies! I’m not good at joining in readalongs, but I’ll certainly read the posts with interest. A very good idea: a few years ago I posted about The Rebel Angels, and I had the impression he was underread, though there were many enthusiasts.


    1. This will be a free-form event with no set readalong. If you feel inspired to pick up a book during the month, great — otherwise I hope you’ll enjoy reading the other posts.

      There are certainly lots of rabid enthusiasts, so if we all get together and make lots of noise, maybe some other readers will get interested. That’s what I hope anyway.


  8. I have not read Robertson Davies, but I do have What’s Bread in the Bone on my TBR. I would guess that was perhaps from your recommendation once up on a time, but it’s been there since 2013 and I wasn’t even book blogging then…


    1. I started book blogging in 2014, so I guess it couldn’t have been me, although I do recommend that book all over the place. Anyway, now’s your chance!


  9. I’m up for this… just wondering though… do his books need to be read in any particular order or can you jump right in anywhere?


    1. Great question! RD’s novels fall into three “trilogies” and two novels that could have made up a third, but unfortunately he died before he could complete the last novel:
      — Salterton trilogy
      — Deptford trilogy
      — Cornish trilogy
      — Toronto trilogy (unfinished)
      Of these, I think the Deptford trilogy would likely be most enjoyed if read in order. There would be spoilers in the later volumes for earlier ones.

      Of the Cornish trilogy, the middle volume What’s Bred in the Bone could be read as a standalone; to get the most out of the third volume (The Lyre of Orpheus) you should have read the first (The Rebel Angels).

      I think the other novels could be read in any order. But I hope that once you read one, you’ll want to read them all! 🙂


      1. Late to this feed, but I am definitely interested. I’ve read most of his fiction and some of his nonfiction. Adore the way his mind works and the stories he tells.


  10. Late to this feed, but I am definitely interested. I’ve read most of his fiction and some of his nonfiction. Adore the way his mind works and the stories he tells.


    1. Although not a current discussion it’s always great to meet another fan! There are two more novels to enjoy beyond the two trilogies, plus wonderful nonfiction as well.


  11. I am very late here. Is it still relevant ? I was a big fan of the 3 Trilogies in the 1990s, an dshould reconnect again with his work

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for asking! I’m not planning to run the event again, but please feel free to visit posts (on both my blogs) and share thoughts if you like. He’s one of the authors I reread over and over again (just revisited Murther and Walking Spirits this year).


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