This is the question that lies at the heart of Robertson Davies's elegant trilogy comprising Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders. Indeed, Staunton's death is the central event of each of the three novels, and Rashomon-style, each circles round to view it from a different perspective. In the first book, Fifth Business, Davies introduces us to Dunstan Ramsey and his "lifelong friend and enemy, Percy Boyd Staunton," both aged 10. It is a winter evening in the small Canadian village of Deptford, and Ramsey and Boy have quarreled. In a rage, Boy throws a snowball with a stone in it, misses his friend and hits the Baptist minister's pregnant wife by mistake. She becomes hysterical and later that night delivers her child prematurely, a baby with birth defects. Even worse, she loses her mind. The snowball, the stone, the deformed baby christened Paul Dempster--this is the secret guilt that will bind Ramsey and Staunton together through their long lives:
I was perfectly sure, you see, that the birth of Paul Dempster, so small, so feeble, and troublesome, was my fault. If I had not been so clever, so sly, so spiteful in hopping in front of the Dempsters just as Percy Boyd Staunton threw that snowball at me from behind, Mrs. Dempster would not have been struck. Did I never think that Percy was guilty? Indeed I did.Boy, however, "would fight, lie, do anything rather than admit" he feels guilty, too, and so the subject remains unresolved between them right up until the night Boy's body is found in his car, in a lake, with a stone in his mouth. The second novel, The Manticore, follows Staunton's son, David, through a course of Jungian therapy in Switzerland, while World of Wonders concentrates on Magnus Eisengrim, a renowned magician and hypnotist with ties to both Ramsey and Boy Staunton.
When it came to writing, three was Davies's favorite number. Before the Deptford books, he wrote The Salterton Trilogy (Tempest-Tost, Leaven of Malice, A Mixture of Frailties), and after it came The Cornish Trilogy (The Rebel Angels, What's Bred in the Bone, The Lyre of Orpheus). Excellent as these and Davies's other novels are, The Deptford Trilogy is arguably the masterpiece for which he'll best be remembered, as the combination of magic, archetype, and good, old-fashioned human frailty at work in these novels is a world of wonders unto itself, and guarantees these three books a permanent place among the great books of our time. --Alix Wilber
best books, I keep lending them and not asking for them back. That way I feel altruistic.Published 16 days ago by J. J.
Amazon suggested the book based on other purchases. Readers enjoyed. This is a gem. I'm astounded I haven't heard of the author before.Published 3 months ago by SEW
Enjoyed this trilogy very much. Each book complimented and added to the last with complicated characters living their fascinating lives. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Echo
I wanted to like it. Several of my friends like it. I will try again later and resubmit my review.Published 5 months ago by shaw br
The Manticore is the second book in The Deptford Trilogy. It continues from Fifth Business in the voice of David Staunton who seeks analysis to help him understand his past. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Echo
My go-to literature guru recommended this 1970's era read. The three unique novels revolve around the murder/death of Boy Staunton from Deptford, a rural village in Ontario,... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Carol Colitti Levine
Has all three novels in one volume. Read first for book club. Davies style is very readable. Gives insight into turn of the century and village life in canadaPublished 8 months ago by varya
An excellent book. I re-read it about once a year or so. The theme of self exploration and transformation is moving. Read morePublished 10 months ago by TylerDurden