What's Bred in the Bone

Robertson Davies, Author Viking Books $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-670-80916-5
Known to discerning readers for his beguiling Deptford Trilogy and the more recent Rebel Angels, Canadian author Davies has written another irresistible novel. His story of the secret life of Francis Cornish, full of ironic twists and surprises, has the added enticement of a look inside the rarefied world of art experts and restorers. There is even a hint of the thriller genre, since Cornish joins British Intelligence to participate in an international scheme to defraud the Nazis of Old Masters. But this is primarily a character study, built around the theme: ""what's bred in the bone comes out in the flesh,'' with the corollary that suffering endured when one is young builds character for later achievements. Born into an eccentric, wealthy Canadian family in a backwoods town, enduring a lonely and suffocatingly pious upbringing, Cornish eventually becomes a respected art appraiser and collector, at the sacrifice of his considerable talent as a painter. In addition to the tantalizing story of how this comes about, related with elements of intrigue and mystery, Davies delivers a wickedly funny, trenchant dissection of provincial society and some witty observations about religion and art. 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. 25,000 first printing; BOMC alternate. Foreign rights: Curtis Brown. November
Reviewed on: 11/01/1985
Release date: 11/01/1985
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-14-009711-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-0962-3
Hardcover - 641 pages - 978-0-8161-4133-3
Paperback - 641 pages - 978-0-8161-4134-0
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