CanLit Challenge Book #46: Leaven of Malice by Robertson Davies
Filed under: Book Reviews,CanLit Challenge — Ibis at 3:41 pm on Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book 46, Leaven of Malice (1954) – Leaven of Malice
“The following announcement appeared in the Salterton Evening Bellman: ‘Professor and Mrs Walter Vambrace are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Pearl Veronica, to Solomon Bridgetower Esq, son of…’. Although the malice that prompted this false engagement notice was aimed at three people only – Solly Bridgetower, Pearl Vambrace, and Gloster Ridley, the anxiety-ridden local newspaper editor – before the leaven of malice had ceased to work it had changed permanently, for good or ill, the lives of many citizens of Salterton. This is the second novel in The Salterton Trilogy (which also includes Tempest-Tost and A Mixture of Frailties)”

Other useful links:
the Wikipedia entry for Leaven of Malice

My thoughts:
Brilliant. Funny. Poignant even at times. Robertson takes us back to Salterton some four years after Tempest-Tost, where someone has placed a false engagement notice about Pearl Vambrace and Solomon Bridgetower in the paper. Professor Vambrace is outraged, thinking that the mysterious ‘X’ did it as an insult to him. When he doesn’t get the apology he wants from Gloster Ridley, the Bellman’s editor, he decides to sue for libel. Everyone in town seems to be affected by the hubbub created and we get to eavesdrop upon conversation after conversation (accompanied by Davies’ delightful and witty commentary) as the overlapping ripples spread out and reflect back on each other. All of the characters are human and flawed, but Davies loves them anyway and we do too. With the dean’s speech on malice at the climax, Davies takes another step toward the mythical and philosophical atmosphere of his later trilogies.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

You must be logged in to post a comment.