Read Murther & Walking Spirits by Robertson Davies Online


Catching his wife with his one-time colleague, Gil Gilmartin is murdered by the latter and lingers on as a ghost who must spend his afterlife sitting next to his killer at an otherworldly film festival....

Title : Murther & Walking Spirits
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780241952665
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Murther & Walking Spirits Reviews

  • Vassiliki Dass
    2019-04-18 14:09

    4.5* et 5* pour le dernier chapitre ainsi que pour son amour et son grand estime pour la Grèce antique et la religion orthodoxe. Un plaisir à lire

  • melissa Miner
    2019-04-06 11:13

    one of the best first sentences ever...

  • julieta
    2019-04-01 09:59

    I´ll start by saying that I love R Davies. His Salterton and Deptford Trilogies are wonderful. But this book is just strange. The story seems promising, a man is killed by his wife´s lover, and becomes the narrator as a ghost who can´t seem to go away. He has the Davies humor which I so much love, when he starts to talk about the lover (Sniffer, who he does not take seriously at all), or his wife who seems like another person after the murder. But then he forgets about that and goes on to tell the story of his family, is it his family? It´s never one thing or the other, the whole thing seems so subjective, there is something about how the characters never really develop, that makes it seem like telling the story is much more important than the story itself. There are very few dialogues, one of the RD traits that I most love, he seems to want to cover so many generations, in a way that he never really gets into any of them. The first and last part are really good (about the murder and the wife), but most of the book is this never ending story which I just wanted to finish. I only came to the end because I have loved so many of his books, I just could not give up on him!

  • Sheri-lee
    2019-04-22 12:19

    Another fun read. An interesting premise and as always brilliant insights into ourselves in the process. i.e. in the musings of the dead main character who gets a chance to view the lives of his ancestors in a very private and personal way: "Yet -- was I really such an unreflecting, uncomprehending jackass when I was alive that I supposed the sufferings and inadequacies of humanity came for the first time in my own experience? No; not wholly. But I had never applied what I knew as general truths to the people without whom I should never have experienced life; I had taken them for granted. As McWearie use to say, one's family is made up of supporting players in one's personal drama. One never supposes that they starred in some possibly gaudy and certainly deeply felt show of their own." It's interesting how the humanness of our parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles, and yes, even our children is missed by ourselves as we navigate in our own stories. It's a good warning to not become a trivializer by separating our thinking from our feeling because "To the human creature nothing that gets strongly to him is trivial. It is all on the heroic scale, so far as he can grasp it...They just have to live (in italics) it, and endure it so far as they can bear." I always come away from Robertson Davies wondering exactly where he stands on faith. At times he is very disparaging, yet there are things that ring true to me in my own faith. I'm sure in his non-fiction writings he's likely an agnostic, but yet through my own tinted glasses I feel reaffirmed. A case in point with the protagonist's reflection upon how generations progressively move (in what seems to me over time to be a pendular fashion)away from faith (only to have subsequent generations come back to it): "Doubtless it is the devil's work to nibble away at a man's belief in such a fashion, but it must be admitted that the Devil is a fine craftsman, and so many of his arguments are unanswerable. Probably Heraclitus would have had something to say about that. Everything, in time, begets it's opposite."

  • Tim Weakley
    2019-03-29 13:13

    This…is a very odd book. I bought it and shelved it at first because, as a Canadian, I thought I should read something by one of the “Great Canadian Author’s”. I chose Davies because I had had very little exposure to him. The book begins with the main character being murdered in the opening line, and progresses from there. I really wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it or not but as we progress through the stories or our protagonists ancestors if began to pick up speed for me. While we watch Connor obtain perspective ( he espouses the idea “we live and learn, but we die and learn too” ) on everything that had gone before him I confess to becoming caught up in the idea of wasted opportunities. I became tied into the thought that it is impossible to see the people that we know as our parents and grandparents as anything other than just that. The concept that they were once young and had plans and dreams, made mistakes and choices that they might not have otherwise made, is a difficult one to grasp in anything other than a superficial way. The ending of the book was a little week, but I can forgive that for where it took me. I’ll read more of this author and I can see why he gets the play he has over the decades.

  • Paul Clayton
    2019-04-16 08:59

    ‘Gil’Gilmartin is killed by his wife’s lover. Afterwards, Instead of watching his whole life passing before him as the cliché says, he instead finds himself hovering about his killer (a film critic) at a film festival and watching not his own life, but the lives of all his forebears in a series of films. After I started the book, I had doubts that I would enjoy such a novelistic device. However, I recalled how much enjoyment I got from reading one of Davies’ books thirty some years ago while on a trip to Canada. I would say that there are, based on this book and the last Davies’ book I read, two things that you will learn from his novels. First off, I don’t know what Davies background is, but he is a fountain of knowledge. Historic and cultural facts are interwoven with the finesse of an artist and the confidence of an academic that has long studied his subjects. AND, you will learn something of life, if you’re open to that. I recommend this book and I will read another of Mr. Davies’ fine novels soon.Murther and Walking Spirits

  • Linda
    2019-04-26 11:07

    The narrator of the novel is murdered on the first page and is bound in some way to his murderer. Together they attend a film festival, where the murderer (a film critic) watches classic films along with the rest of the audience. The narrator, however, is trapped and forced to watch a different set of films. Gradually it becomes clear that these are films showing his history and that of his family - the story of his great great grandmother escaping New York after the War of Independence for example.Nothing is hidden - the narrator can overhear their thoughts, see the unfolding actions in context. It is beautifully written, with strong characters and a really strong sense of place (the description of the poverty stricken village in Wales is particularly striking).It is also an uncomfortable read in the sense that gradually you as the reader begin to wonder what you would have to watch if you were in this position.I would recommend the novel - it is quirky, amusing and very well written; although it appears to be episodic everything is connected. The different characters are clearly defined, with some that are almost unforgettable and the sense of place is flawless.

  • Alexandra
    2019-04-23 06:21

    It is getting more interesting as I am starting to catch on to what is going on. Basically this guy is murdered by his wife's mister. Now the murdered guy is at a movie festival at his murderer's side, watching movies that relate to himself, or "attend to his posthumous needs". I am not sure if this movie festival is actually an exploration into the consciousness of murderer and murdered as a way for them both to deal with the event that just happened. I am starting to not want to put the book down!update: I finished the book. Overall, it was difficult to follow, but had some wisdom and wit that was worthy of reading.

  • Kate
    2019-04-08 12:24

    Discovering the work of Robertson Davies is one of the highlights of my reading life. This one was a particular delight: how could you not love a book whose first-person narrator is killed in the book's first paragraph? The conceit of Connor Gilmartin watching his family history unspool as a private film festival is brilliant, and Gil is a wry and erudite narrator. I loved the book's final twists and its large cast of characters, who are all true individuals. A tragedy for dedicated readers that Davies did not live to finish this trilogy; there are such intriguing possibilities for so many of the characters in this book.

  • Julie Akeman
    2019-04-23 11:05

    I'm glad I wasn't drinking wine or I would have spewed it out too just like that ass Going. This was really a fantastic read and it's the first I read of this particular author. History, humor, Irony and sardonic wit, I really love the forays into philosophysing over life, death and one's ancestoral background. A good piece that made me sigh in satisfaction when I finished it. It's still rolling around in my head even though I am deep into another book, but that is just how my brain works. This is a good thing, that a book stays with you even when you are on to the next one. It's a worthy read. loved it!!

  • Vincent
    2019-03-28 08:59

    I have been a fan of Robertson Davies for many years and keep going back to this novel. It took a special meaning this time as I just lost my mother, and questions about after life and family stories are taking a whole new meaning for me now. Beyond that, Davies' style and humour delighted me again and I enjoyed our common celtic roots, as always. I am amazed by the lukewarm critics as I recommend this book as warmly as "Bread in the bone", "World of wonders" or "The manticore"

  • Isabelle
    2019-04-16 06:22

    Very unique premise since the narrator is dead and comes to the reader in the form of a spirit, telling his tale an revisiting his life immediately after he is murdered (at the opening of the book). Of course, he has a lot to atone for, and hi tale will shed light on guilt, despair, the unconscious. The book is also very metaphysical, not a stretch since the hero/narrator is a ghost in transit.

  • YYCanuck
    2019-03-30 11:14

    Excellent read!

  • David
    2019-04-03 12:22

    Rant: please put R Davies' books on ebook, reading physical books is a chore for me.The main character is murdered in the book's first sentence, when he walks in on his wife and her lover. In his ghostly form he follows the killer as he attends a film festival, but instead of viewing those movies he sees his ancestors' lives going back hundreds of years. It concludes by returning to the present. Really enjoyed the stories and characters of his ancestors, their successes and failures, and how they arrived in the New World. The denouement seems incomplete but there is a sequel I'll want to tackle, if it ever comes to Kindle.

  • Ocean Gebhardt
    2019-04-26 11:24

    I forgot how much I enjoyed Robertson Davies. This book was full of wit, slightly too complicated to keep up with all the time, but overall very rewarding. And once again I ended up learning a lot. I thought the only weak part was the very end, although I'm not sure what else I expected in terms of tying up the story. 4.5

  • Tom
    2019-04-15 08:08

    I really enjoyed the start of this book and while it is well written I really didn't get the point of it.

  • Kerrie
    2019-04-17 11:03

    Good story, disappointing ending.

  • Helene Slowik
    2019-04-17 08:26

    Concept was intriguing but I just didn't get into it.

  • Katie
    2019-04-12 13:13

    I enjoyed it, but I'm not interested in continuing the trilogy. I didn't know was a trilogy until coming on good reads! It feels unnecessary to continue, I was satisfied with the ending and I don't have interest in following the characters any further.

  • Jenna
    2019-03-27 13:14

    Interesting... most of the comments about this book seem to agree with what I felt-- a splendid author, but the book is sufficiently strange to leave you vaguely confused and dissatisfied at the end. There were a few revelations I had while reading it, though, that seem to me to merit a higher score, so let's say it's a 3.75, truncated.The last, and perhaps most significant thing I realized:R. Davies talks about a new sense of humor being born-- unique to Americans, born of desperation and needing something to laugh at. Apparently, sarcasm and cynical dry wit was almost unheard of, or certainly not proper in any case, before these rebel Americans came along. Furthermore, he talks constantly about his Tory ancestors while pointing out there was glory on both sides. Before reading this book, I'd felt like I was un-American, as I probably am by any modern sense of the word. But afterwords, having read about the proud American soldiers, ridiculous in their suicidal war, laughing at their own doomed bravado, cynical and desperate and refusing to despair to the last, I was struck by the very glory of their unlikely war. Struck by the glory I had previously scorned as stupidity. I realized just how very American I am. Cynical, certainly. Fighting for a doomed cause, possibly. Though the cause I would die for is far different, it seems to be just as sincere to me, and just as doomed. But I digress, as I doubt anyone knows what I'm talking about. Do I feel scorn for my fellow citizens because I am more American than they are, in the old sense of the word, or because, as I had previously supposed, I am less American, vainly seeking to create terror (a terrorist in my own right, no doubt) in my own home? Davies convinced me it just might be the former.Another apostrophe ('do you mean an epiphany?' asks Hook. Well, yes.)I don't like books that leave so much unanswered at the end. Not at all. I know that this is a wonderful book that deserves far more praise than I give it. But I can't, simply because I don't know why he didn't get to know his mothers' side of the family at all, I don't know why he was watching family films after he was dead, I don't know what will happen to him now (though to tell the truth, I found Gil a tiresome character and hard to like, so I don't really care), and not knowing why anything happened bothers me to no end. I never even realized the extent of my need for an explanation before.One more comment, and then I'm finally done. I wish there'd been more time spent with Anna Vermuelen and her dashing son, though I didn't care for the other members of the family. They were the best characters in the book, with the possible exceptions of Will ("the Old Devil") and Brochwel.

  • Carl R.
    2019-04-07 11:20

    This is not the book I was looking for. I had hoped to find the third in Davies’ Cornish Trilogy, What’s Bred in the Bone. However, I was happy enough to find Murther and Walking Spirits, and I was thrilled with the opening. One of the best ever: I was never so amazed in my life as when the Sniffer drew his concealed weapon from its case and struck me to the ground. Stone dead. The thrill went on for quite a while. The narrator, or his spirit, was killed after catching his wife in bed with a colleague/friend. He watches his body being carted away, follows the two of them around for a while. We’re set up to be involved in a delicious revenge plot carried out from beyond. Then, in a sudden turn, we’re at a rather dull film festival. Both the narrator and his murderer are newspaper film critics. The narrator is the arts editor. The bludgeoned spirit seemingly has no control over where he goes and what he sees. Neither, of course, do we. The murderer goes to the film festival as part of his professional duties. The films he sees are not the ones our narrator sees, and too bad. What’d presented is a long documentary of the victim’s ancestry and ancestors, dating from the eighteenth century. How his forebears arrived in Canada from the U.S., England, Wales. It’s all a fairly interesting narrative--as documentaries go. But the characters are so many and we see all of them so briefly that we have so single person or set of persons to invest ourselves in. In the meantime, the core of the story, or what we have been led to believe is the core--the murderer, his victim, and the just deserts--languishes. Davies picks this last up nicely in the last thirty or so pages, but by then it’s too late, at least for me. Dramatic tension and momentum have been leached by the preceding three hundred and twenty. Murther is full of the usual Davies wit and erudition, it’s in many ways an entertaining and admirable read. However, I’d have to rate it, sadly, an overall disappointment. Next time it will be What’s Bred in the Bone or nothing.

  • Andree
    2019-04-25 06:01

    So this is good. It's not great, but it's good. And I feel like it picks up after the first hundred pages or so.This book is a story of a man who gets murdered suddenly in middle-age and then basically goes visiting some of his ancestors, learning about them. It's interesting in the sense that he's Canadian, so you get a very Canadian story of what situations may have brough people's ancestors to the country, and what circumstances may have made them what they were. I enjoyed that part of the book quite a lot.On the other hand, based on the description of the book on the back (at least the back of my copy):Murther & Walking Spirits is the morbitly witty and glitteringly intelligent story of Connor Gilmartin, a spirit-hero who meets his murderous end in the very first sentence and goes on to become postumously acquainted with his forebears.I rather expected this book to be a little more "A Christmas Carol," then what it was (a lot of introspection about metaphysics). I expected there to be a little more, well, walking spirits. The whole book is very passive. Much like "A Christmas Carrol", the main character can't interact with niether the ancestors he's seeing (he watches their stories like a film), nor can he interact with his family and friends in the present day. He just watches everything. And it's not that some of the storys aren't interesting (many of them are), but they didn't always feel cohesive.This book was interesting enough, and enjoyable. But there was something missing at the heart of it.

  • Adam
    2019-04-16 12:17

    I'm a big fan of Robertson Davies, but I would echo many other readers' sentiments that this book is not up to his usual tight storytelling. It starts strong, but then unravels into vagary and confusion.Many of the individual episodes making up the narrator's family history are generally very well done, but they don't appear to add up to anything. We have so little information about the narrator that it's difficult to care much about his murder or to see the significance of all of these ancestral episodes on his life. The concept of an afterlife in which the murdered man must watch films with his murderer, yet the films he sees are really episodes from his ancestry, is intriguing. But by the end I was left wondering what the point of this strange afterlife might be. And the final chapter simply raised numerous new questions while providing no resolution.Given how good Davies' other works are, I can't bring myself to give this more than two stars. It was OK, and in some ways likable, but it probably could have been great if we'd just gotten a little more history about the narrator himself, or some further indication of why this afterlife was set up for him.

  • Dorothy
    2019-04-16 14:18

    I say this was OK, but I didn't finish it. The writing was good, but the subject didn't engage my interest.At the start of the book, the hero is murdered - the "hook" which keeps you reading is that he stays on as a ghost. What will happen to him? Will he manage to wreak revenge on his murderer as he hopes?Well, who knows, because I didn't get that far. Having set up that intriguing premise, the author then goes on to ignore it almost completely. Apparently when you die, it's not just your own life that flashes before your eyes - it's your whole family history. Almost the entire book is taken up with it - and frankly, I couldn't find a reason to be interested in any of the characters paraded before me as we worked our way through his family tree.I might've been more interested if the opening hadn't led me to expect something so completely different - but as it was, I kept waiting to return to the present day and see what would become of our hero. Eventually I gave up!

  • Sandy Yang
    2019-04-04 13:00

    It sure is a strange book. I tried to find from it why Mr. Davies wrote it when he's almost 80 years old. He didn't have to prove his ability as an author or to please anybody anymore. He knew the book would not be popular, and it would be telling the stories similar to some other books of his, as a conclusion of his life? Or as an adventure he always wanted to take? Or, a way to say to his followers, don't blindly warship me, use your own brain?! Here's what he said himself in this book regarding sharing thoughts and feelings:"Writers have tried to convey such knowledge by what they call Inner Monologue. Joyce wrestled with the problem in two great, long, dense books. But words cannot give the fullness of feeling; they can only struggle to arouse some echo-felling in a reader, and of course every reader must comprehend in terms of what he has himself felt and known, so that every reader feels the essence of Joyce and his imitators in a different way. An echo is a diminished voice."

  • verbava
    2019-04-09 06:25

    "убивство і бродячі духи" – передостанній роман девіса, перша частина недописаної торонтської трилогії. назва, як і у випадку "п'ятого персонажа", походить із цитати – і щось у мене таке враження, наче тут цитата теж вигадана: знайти її десь, крім епіграфу до цієї книжки, не вдалося (втім, може, щоденники семюела батлера, звідки девіс її взяв, просто не оцифровані). з майстерними містифікаторами непросто, бо їм ніколи не можеш так по-справжньому повірити.роман одразу дає читачеві те, що обіцяне назвою: убивство відбувається в першому реченні, а потім цілий текст ми проводимо з бродячим духом, який поступово змиряється зі своєю відсутністю у світі живих, поки перед його очима розгортається цілий кінофестиваль родинної історії. і "where Murthers and Walking Spirits meet, there is no other Narrative can come near it" – чи принаймні з цими історіями дуже тяжко змагатися, особливо тоді, коли їх пише робертсон девіс.

  • Mitch
    2019-04-17 05:58

    This is the second novel I've read by Robertson Davies. I think I will like some of his other works better than this one, but that doesn't mean it wasn't good.What I like about his writing is that it is entertaining, and odd, and occasionally contains very telling sentences that sum things up in a great way.This particular novel does all that. It's oddly constructed and ends without much of a conclusion in my opinion, but I still was happy to wander through it all the way to the end to see what he'd do with it.My favorite parts were the darkly humorous beginning and the parts that related to it later in the book, the bits about auctions and the things we do after a death, and other bits that he knifed in with his special brand of humor.I don't think he's a writer that will appeal to everyone, but I fully intend to continue reading a few more of his works.

  • Barbara Sibbald
    2019-04-15 08:10

    This wildly imaginative book is told from the perspective of a recently deceased, snobby and misguided arts editor who attends a film fest featuring the movie of his ancestor's lives. It's so entertaining and vividly drawn and the prose is often sublime. I've always loved Robertson Davies' work; this solidifies his prowess as the consummate story teller. A sample quote (p. 224):"But even Wagner, with his magnificent music and his rather less worthy pseudo-medieval words, is never wholly successful. Why? Because a work of art must be in some measure coherent; but thought and feeling mingled, as all of us experience them, are surging and incoherent. Thought and feeling trimmed into coherence in a work of art are still far from reality, still far from the agonizing confusion that rises like miasma in what a great poet has called the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart."

  • Rachel
    2019-03-27 09:15

    (Actual rating = 2.75 stars)Murther and Walking Spirits chronicles the death and early afterlife of Conor Gilmartin, an arts editor for a Toronto newspaper. After his wife's lover kills him, Conor takes a journey through his father's family's past. If I had read the negative reviews of this book before picking it up, I might have decided not to read it. I share the sentiments of many of the reviewers who didn't like this book. It starts off strong, but Conor's journey through his family's history feels like a diversion, and I really didn't care about what happened to his great-great-grandparents. The only moments that I enjoyed were in the present, when Conor is trying to find a way to haunt his killer.

  • Dominique
    2019-04-06 08:24

    This was a completely different book than I thought it was. It's kind of like 2 books; a story within a story, a venn diagram sort of book. Actually, it was a book within a novella. It was fine or whatever. Not as good as The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business/The Manticore/World of Wonders, but still fine.(I skipped a bunch of pages at the end because I just wanted it to be the end. Not in a bad way, but in a "This is all great, but I don't have time for this right now" way.) Skip it, unless you want to read all of his stuff for completion's sake.