Fifth Business : Deptford Trilogy

  • by Robertson Davies
  • Narrated by Marc Vietor
  • Series: Deptford Trilogy
  • 10 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Hailed by the Washington Post Book World as "a modern classic", Robertson Davies’ acclaimed Deptford Trilogy is a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived series of novels, around which a mysterious death is woven.
This first novel in the trilogy introduces Ramsay, a man who returns from World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross but who is destined to be caught in a no man's land where memory, history, and myth collide. As we hear Ramsey tell his story, we begin to realize that, from childhood, he has influenced those around him in a perhaps mystical, perhaps pernicious way. Even his seemingly innocent involvement in as innocuous an event as throwing a snowball proves to be neither innocent nor innocuous in the end.


What the Critics Say

"A marvelously enigmatic novel, elegantly written and driven by irresistible narrative forces." (The New York Times)
"Robertson Davies is one of the great modern novelists." (Malcolm Bradbury, The Sunday Times, London)
"One of the splendid literary enterprises of this decade." (Newsweek)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Thanks, Audible, but mildly disappointing

This is another novel I've always wanted to read but wouldn't have gotten to if not brought to audio. Since it finds itself on "best novels of all time" lists, my expectations were very high; however, I enjoyed books in Davies' Cornish and Salterton trilogies more. While Fifth Business is a very worthwhile listen, it's not THE great Canadian novel, but maybe it was the great Canadian novel of the Canadian psyche of its day (1970?).

I love Davies' old fashioned, (and sometimes) poetry-infused prose. The narrator was good, but it takes someone like the late Frederick Davidson to get his tongue around those multiclaused sentences in a natural sounding way. (and to be really picky, the Brit Davidson did a better job of sounding old fashioned Canadian vowels than Vietor (who may not have even attempted that little added touch to the pre WWII Canadian English of the characters - I imagine that Davies would have delighted in that little touch-up to the vowels)

I've no formal literary background, but Davies seems to me to be the great Jungian bridge between colonial and postcolonial CanLit and culture. And for 1970, this tale was probably innovative insight into the evolution Canadian nationhood. For non Canadians, Fifth Business might explain how we got from a nation of "hewers of wood and drawers of water" to "gee, eh!" (or G20) status. And it spins a darn good tale with some wonderful word play and images along the way. I'm looking forward to books 2 and 3. (The spirit of Davies is probably laughing about an American audio company making his novels accessible to Canadians who skipped through him on their university reading lists.)
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- connie "Narrative makes the world go round."

Been waiting for this

This is a favorite series of mine from my college days so I was very happy to see it come up on audible. For years, when I was younger, I re-read it nearly every year. This is great storytelling but it's complex and multifaceted so beware if you are just looking for a fun light listen. It is a great tale infused with history, psychology, religion, theories on different styles of education, murder mystery, all wrapped up in a often humorous, sharp writing style. I think this is the most sedate of the 3 books but it's needed to glean insight into into the main characters. As Dunstan Ramsey says, he is Fifth Business and this book reflects it.

The reader, Marc Vietor is adequate. He is the style of reader who mostly just reads. Not a great deal of characterizations of the voices. I would have wished for a more versatile reader. Not sure about his doing Canadian voices but Simon Vance would have been an interesting choice for reader.

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- Vinity "Vinity"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-02-2011
  • Publisher: Audible Studios