A Portrait in Mosaic
by Val Ross
National bestseller and a Globe and Mail Best Book
A fascinating, larger-than-life character, Davies left a treasure trove of stories about him when he died in 1995 — expertly arranged here into a revealing portrait.
From his student days onward, Robertson Davies made a huge impression on those around him. He was so clearly bound for a glorious future that some young friends even carefully preserved his letters. And everyone remembered their encounters with him.
Later in life, as a world-famous writer, perhaps Canada’s pre-eminent man of letters (who “looked like Jehovah”), he attracted people eager to meet him, who also vividly remembered their meetings. So when Val Ross set out in search of people’s memories, she was faced with a wonderful embarrassment of riches.
The one hundred or so contributors here range very widely. There are family memories, of course, and memories from colleagues in the academic world who knew him as a professor and the founding master of Massey College at the University of Toronto.
Predictably, there are other major writers like Margaret Atwood and John Irving. Less predictably, there are people from the world of Hollywood, such as Norman Jewison and David Cronenberg (who remembers Davies on-set, peering through a camera lens as he researched his newest novel). And we even hear from his barber, and from his gardener, Theo Henkenhaf.
Some speakers contribute just a lively paragraph; others several pages. Yet all of them, through the magic of Val Ross’s art, help to create an intriguing, full-colour portrait of a complex man beloved by millions of readers around the world.
From the Hardcover edition.
- McClelland & Stewart, February 2009
Douglas Gibson Books
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