When Father Hobbes mysteriously dies at the high altar on Good Friday, Dr Jonathan Hullah - whose holistic ideas have earned him the soubriquet 'cunning man' - wants to know why. But it is only through looking back at his own long life that answers are forthcoming. He recalls the dazzling intellectual high jinks of his circle of friends, from the ...
When Father Hobbes mysteriously dies at the high altar on Good Friday, Dr Jonathan Hullah - whose holistic ideas have earned him the soubriquet 'cunning man' - wants to know why. But it is only through looking back at his own long life that answers are forthcoming. He recalls the dazzling intellectual high jinks of his circle of friends, from the High Church homosexual Darcy Dwyer (an expert on the theory of sin) to the curious occurrence of the Coburg Social Parlour's Seventh Annual Bad Breath Contest. Compelling and hilarious, "The Cunning Man" is a profound exploration of what it means to be an actor in the divine comedy of life.
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Publishers Weekly, 1994-12-05 Admirers of Davies who may have felt somewhat of a falling off in his last two books can be reassured: The Cunning Man is a superb return to the high form of the Deptford trilogy and What's Bred in the Bone. It's a novel in which Davies' clear-sighted humanism, irony and grasp of character are on vivid display. The hero, Dr. Jonathan Hullah, is a Toronto doctor of decidedly unorthodox opinions and practice who regales the reader with an account of his family and educational history, and his relationships with a group that includes a noble priest who dies mysteriously at the altar, a far-from-noble one who quite justifiably declines into drink and despair, an untidy Scottish journalist who is a splendid foil to Hullah, and a lesbian couple who offer the provincial Canadian city the equivalent of a Parisian salon on the basis of cucumber sandwiches and cream cakes. Everything revolves around a church much more Roman, in its rituals and music, than it should be; an apparent miracle; and a nosy woman reporter. Davies's command of both his material and his elegant first-person narration is absolute. He achieves a remarkable sense of uncloying elegy in his vision of a group of people who are far more complicated than they appear, yet always utterly believable. To call a book the work of an infinitely civilized mind might seem starchy; to add that it is also wonderfully funny, poignant and never less than totally engrossing should redress the balance. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1995-12-11 Canadian novelist Davies's latest concerning the mysterious death of a Catholic priest, was a PW bestseller for seven weeks. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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