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What's Bred in the Bone | [Robertson Davies]

What's Bred in the Bone

Francis Cornish was always good at keeping secrets. From the well-hidden family secret of his childhood to his mysterious encounters with a small-town embalmer, an expert art restorer, a Bavarian countess, and various masters of espionage, the events in Francis' life were not always what they seemed. This wonderfully ingenious portrait of an art expert and collector of international renown is told in stylish, elegant prose and endowed with lavish portions of Davies' wit and wisdom.
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Publisher's Summary

Francis Cornish was always good at keeping secrets. From the well-hidden family secret of his childhood to his mysterious encounters with a small-town embalmer, an expert art restorer, a Bavarian countess, and various masters of espionage, the events in Francis' life were not always what they seemed.

This wonderfully ingenious portrait of an art expert and collector of international renown is told in stylish, elegant prose and endowed with lavish portions of Davies' wit and wisdom.

Robertson Davies (1913 - 1995) was an internationally acclaimed author, actor, publisher, and, finally, professor at the University of Toronto. The author of 12 novels and several volumes of essays and plays, he was the first Canadian to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

©1985 by Robertson Davies; (P)1996 by Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"Extraordinary.... A gripping story of artistic triumph and heroic deceit, told with deep insight into the worlds of art and international espionage. This work is tailor-made for the eloquence of narrator Frederick Davidson." (Library Journal)
"Davidson's carefully modulated, vocalized reading brings to life the gallery of players in Cornish's world, working together with Davies's rich prose to peel back layer after layer of deceit." (Kliatt)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (87 )
5 star
 (43)
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 (26)
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 (10)
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 (5)
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4.4 (28 )
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4.3 (29 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Nancy Santa Fe, NM, USA 04-20-04
    Nancy Santa Fe, NM, USA 04-20-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "More Fabulous Robertson Daview"

    I loved this book (including the reader) and only wish it would go on and on. Less humerous and a bit darker than some of Robertson Davies' others (Salterton Tril, for example) but equally as entertaining. With Davies' superb subtlety and attention to detail and his extraordinary characters and their surroundings, the story of Francis Cornish takes us through the first half of the 20th century and two world wars almost as an aside. The Francis, the story and the words are the thing, well read and exquisitely crafted. A really brilliant, thought provoking work.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 04-05-08
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 04-05-08

    trying to see the world with my ears

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Classic Can Lit"

    Recently I had the opportunity to listen to dozens of novels as I convalesced. This was one of my favorites as both novel and listening experience, undertaken just after a marathon of George Eliot,Trollope, & Galsworthy. Although Frederick Davidson is one of my favorite narrators, I was at first disappointed that a Brit was reading Can Lit, but he turned out to be almost perfect. His "almost British accent" while narrating suited perfectly a novel set in a time when Canada was emerging slowly from its colonialist ties to England. Some of Davidson's "Canadian" voices sounded a little "south of the border" to my ears, and I cringed when he at first anglicized the pronunciation of "Prime Minister Laurier," but overall, the narration was delightful, and the accents no more artificial than when a North American takes a stab at British dialects, I suppose.

    Bred in the Bone is both a traditional novel and contemporary - A tale told traditionally but by an author with contemporary social and psychological insight and delightful wit. I wish Audible featured more of Davies' novels! And more classic Can Lit!

    If you're looking for a clever read but without too much postmodern angst, this may be for you.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Westbury, Australia 10-24-07
    Karen Westbury, Australia 10-24-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Couldn't even start"

    I love Robertson Davies' books and was really looking forward to listening to this one. I'm sure I would have loved this one too but I couldn't get past the dreadful recording. It is very muffled but I am sure I could have become accustomed to that. The real problem was that the narrator sounded as though he was reading a weather forecast, except when he was talking as one of the characters and then he just sounded as though he was doing a comic send up. I tried several times to ignore the irritations of the narrator and concentrate on the prose but I found it impossible and had to give up. Very disappointing

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dallas powassan, Ontario, Canada 12-08-10
    dallas powassan, Ontario, Canada 12-08-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "wonderful book and the perfect narrator for it."

    I was so very sad to reach the end of this book, it was the sort you hope will go one forever. I've always been a Robertson Davies fan, and had the privilege of attending a reading by him which just increased my admiration ten fold. What made this book so exceptional was the narrator who perfectly captured the brilliant dialog but also the subtly of the emotions behind the words. I cried at the end because I felt like I had lost a friend.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GLENN Ventura, CA, United States 09-25-08
    GLENN Ventura, CA, United States 09-25-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    2
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    Overall
    "Living with the past"

    This is a novel of man who learns to live with who he is. He has the kind of haunted, rarified, occasionally brutal life that many Davies' characters endure, and enjoy from time to time. It is a tale worth telling.
    Davies has a profound gift for characterization. Frank Cornish is as fully realized as any figure from biography. Davies is always sympathetic with his characters, and this sympathy lets us understand them in depth. Some of them turn out to be scoundrels, but he does not gloat over their downfalls, or rail at their triumphs. They are who they are, and his business is to reveal them.
    Davies' prose as always is as clean and graceful as fine music. The story is darker than his "Rebel Angels" or the comic "Tempest Tost" and lacks the high drama of the Deptford Trilogy, but still a thoroughly rewarding read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PickAx Girl Northern Minnesota 10-26-11
    PickAx Girl Northern Minnesota 10-26-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Better than the written word"

    I've been trying to read the Cornish Trilogy for years, but always got bogged down with the complex prose. Frederick Davidson (the reader) added both "voice" and cadence to the prose that truly highlighted the wit and talent of the author and made for a most enjoyable listening experience.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet C. Walker Summerville, SC 06-13-03
    Janet C. Walker Summerville, SC 06-13-03 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    245
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    4
    1
    Overall
    "Quirky enough for anyone."

    I read this several months ago, and remember it as a pseudo anglophilic saga of Francis Cornish overwatched by his personal gods, muses or recorders and has lots of interesting twists.

    3 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-7 of 7 results
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  • Carmel
    Johannesburg, South Africa
    10/27/11
    Overall
    "A book greater than the sum of its words"

    Excellent book, very well narrated. Couldn't stop listening. Very inspiring for any artist. Beyond the obvious.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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