Fiction: Rebel Angels, by Robertson Davies

Re-read. Our March challenge book.

Love reading novels as saturated in the world of academia as this one. Also adds something to the mix that there are people that weren’t quite in that world–Maria and her crazy gypsy relatives; Parlabane. Great mixture.

Davies is really funny about the academic stuff–and then the mystical stuff is his own spice. Very much a social comedy, like Trollope or someone; reading this right after reading Gatsby (with that veneer that social class matters), you do kind of live and die with Maria and those people, they become important to you. Maria’s so smart that when she gets pulled back into the gypsy world she’s pissed off.

Thinking about wacko Parlabane’s ability to just be in and around academia even though he’s so beyond the range of it; is it still like that? (Academics more tolerant of nutters in their midst?)

All the art stuff is so vivid that you’re picturing those drawings in your head, Davies really brings that stuff to life. (And in the third book of this trilogy, they do an opera that makes you believe that this thing exists. Same is true of Francis’ paintings in book 2.)

In this first book, Francis is like one of those planets exerting all this force, everything sort of orbiting around him, this figure you can’t quite picture.

Davies is more than a clever writer–very wise.

Verdict: Very enthusiastic double thumbs-up, both in previous reads and now.

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