Synopses & Reviews
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's life were not always what they seemed.
In this wonderfully ingenious portrait of an art expert and collector of international renown, Robertson Davies has created a spellbinding tale of artistic triumph and heroic deceit. It is a tale told in stylish, elegant prose, endowed with lavish portions of Davies's wit and wisdom.
"Davies has written another irresistible novel....[W]ickedly funny....The book is seamlessly constructed, interpolating some marvelous set pieces of comic intensity, and the reader hurtles through the taut, compelling narrative wishing it would never end." Publishers Weekly
"[T]his novel nourishes the brain while it beguiles the senses. Even those who dislike its message must keep it in mind while they scramble for a rebuttal." Time
"[A] peculiar rehash of everything [Davies] has done previously, but it is a caricature of his other books....He cannot create motivation in his characters or sustain dramatic tension because his understanding of the universe is antithetical to human action and responsibility. Since Davies sees people as cardboard cutouts pulled along by cosmic strings, his characters cannot be anything but flat, ventriloquist dummies. All the talk of Freud and Jung and the unconscious is a smokescreen for a determinist view that should be the delight of creationists the world over." Robert Jones, Commonweal
"[The book contains] erudition, wit, irony, great narrative skill, and a surprising knowledge of such arcane subjects as embalming, art restoration, astrology, and the religious connotations of Renaissance art. Yet the frequent excessive objectivity of the narration imparts a bloodless quality and prevents the book from being the triumph one anticipates." H.R. Percy, Books in Canada
At once ingenious and powerful, What's Bred in the Bone holds the usual rich mixture of Davies' delights. Soho prostitutes, secret agents, Bavarian countesses, and a small-town embalmer people its pages in Davies' stylish, elegant prose.
About the Author
In addition to writing twelve novels, several volumes of essays, and a handful of plays, Robertson Davies (1913-1995) was an actor with the Old Vic Company in England, publisher of the Peterborough Ontario Examiner, and professor and first master of Massey College at the University of Toronto. He was the first Canadian to be inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.