As the first book in Davies' first trilogy, Tempest-Tost sets the stage for what is to come in Salterton, then elsewhere in his world.
I ..Show More »have read all of his novels "in paper", and he is one of my favorite authors. By now I have experienced several in audio. His books were meant to be read aloud, as you would expect of a former actor.
In all of the novels Davies depicts multiple human beings as lively, sympathetic creatures who are trying to get on with life --- though to our delight, they do not generally know what that means. The drawing is less skilled here than in his later works, though he tells an amusing story.
Anyone who has been around amateur theatricals will enjoy the background. Tempest-Tost also introduces us to characters who will come to fuller life in the other parts of the trilogy.
Anyone who wants to spend an entire novel "inside" one person should know upfront that Davies may not be their man. To some extent in this work, and much more in later ones, he gives life and depth to multiple characters --- with a wonderful combination of humor, tragedy, and sympathy. The humanist peeks through here, as does the humorist. But they have yet to become one. The main object of both the humor and the sympathy here, a sad pedant, is too one-dimensional.
To me the book lacks the depth, grace and balance of the later ones. It is a worthy effort. If heard in sequence, you can see how rapidly Davies moved from talented beginner to far more.
If you are trying to pick a book that will help you decide whether or not to read more of Davies, this would not be the best first choice. But if you want a complete picture of his Salterton community it will be well worth your time.
even better than on paper, and that's saying a lot
I love Robertson Davies' books and have read them all. This is the second audiobook I've gotten. The first was Leaven of Malice. Because it is so c..Show More »omic and comparatively simpler, I had expected that to be more suitable for an audio version, and it was excellent. But this is even better.
As with all Davies, many of the characters are extremes, but all are vibrantly human, even the nastiest. The deep humanity of the author who was an actor, editor, professor, dean AND writer shines through.
The plot starts with a nasty joke of a will that leaves the son and daughter-in-law of a formidable and brilliantly vindictive woman with a hundred dollars, a huge house to maintain, and nothing else. However, they will inherit everything when, and only when, they produce a male heir. Meanwhile, the income from her (for the time) huge estate is to help a Canadian woman study "the arts" abroad.
We are shown both the hardships imposed on the young couple left in Salterton and the unexpected good fortune of the young woman chosen to benefit from the legacy. The characters include an "old puss", a churchman, the young couple, the young female singer being trained, a famous conductor, a gifted composer, and numerous others.
The main emphasis is on watching the development of the young singer. We also watch the son develop some backbone and a sense of humor. The incidents combine warm sympathy for the characters, a great sense of the absurd, and a mixture of joy and loss. Since this is not a tragedy, it ends well for the main characters.
The reader is excellent. The writing is excellent. The characters and incidents are enjoyable. Who could ask for anything more?