Robertson Davies always wanted to call this book of hisThe Merry Heart. Now, within a year of his death, the wish is fulfilled, and fittingly by a selection of his writings that he had already planned with his publisher. The result is a selection of vintage Davies, full of the shrewd relish for life that was his hallmark. At the time of his death, readers around the world mourned the loss of a great writer with a unique and instantly recognisable style. Although we shall not see another Davies novel, we can all rejoice that there is another new book that is pure distilled Davies. His utterly distinctive voice resounds here from every line. "To ask an author who hopes to be a serious writer if his work is autobiographical is like asking a spider where he buys his thread" is one of his memorable aphorisms here. As close to an autobiography as we can ever expect, this collection of reminiscences, speeches, book reviews, parodies, and essays tells us a great deal about the writer and the man. The introductions to each of the twenty-four chapters add further biographical details, followed by tantalizing fragments from Davies' own unpublished diary. But the strength of the book lies in its stimulating contents. Every chapter is an education for the reader, as it provides the pleasure of browsing through Davies' richly stocked mind. Whether he is discussing art fakes, his schooldays, the differences between Canadians and Americans, Thackeray, Ibsen,The Little Red Hen, orUlysses, this collection gathers his reflections on books, on writing, on reading, on his own writing, on other authors and much else, into a fascinating whole. The result is a tonic, a provocation, and a delight.