Book: The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies
First Read: Maybe 1993 or 1994? I know that by the time that I went off to university in 1995 I had read everything that Robertson Davies had written, then was very sad when he died that year knowing that he would not be writing any more books for me to enjoy. This is a book that I have re-read many times since the first reading. I usually get a craving to read it in September since it is a book inextricably linked with the school year.
Original Impressions: This wasn't my favourite Davies book the first time I read it. It is the first in a trilogy, and I liked it better than the 2nd book (What's Bred in the Bone) but the 3rd book (The Lyre of Orpheus) was by far my favourite, probably because it dealt with music and musicians. The characters in The Rebel Angels are scholars and professors and academics set in place in a university loosely based in the University of Toronto. I did like the character of Maria who, at age 23, was closest in age to my 17-year-old self. She was everything that I wanted to be - intelligent, beautiful, interesting.
Current Impressions: This book grew on me over the years, probably as I went through the university system (though with a science degree, not the arts); and the humour became funnier. Robertson Davies is one of the few authors that remains laugh-out-loud funny to me, every time I re-read his books. Maria doesn't appeal to me as much now, 18 years later. Have I outgrown her? She seems so immature at times, and lacking in wisdom despite her intelligence. Or maybe it is knowing what happens to her through the next 2 books in the trilogy. She becomes boring (in my opinion). But the other characters have developed much more depth to me since my first reading. It is interesting to re-read a book that I loved at a different stage in life - there are some books that have remained favourites (e.g. Anne of Green Gables); others that have grown on me (e.g. The Diviners); and others that I no longer enjoy (e.g. several by Maeve Binchey).
On this re-reading, I was frustrated by Maria's stubbornness, intrigued by Parlabane's background, sympathetic with Darcourt's frustrations, and impatient with Hollier's single mindedness. Overall, it is a book that continues to hold my interest with each re-reading.
Next up for the challenge? I don't know - maybe a re-reading of The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, a book that I haven't re-read since my first reading.