"A Mixture of Frailties", the third volume of Robertson Davies "Salterton" Trilogy, is his first extended engagement with one of the great neuroses of Canadian culture: Canada's artistic relationship to Europe, and particularly to Britain. Davies begins his story with the funeral of Louisa Bridgetower, the Salterton matron whose imposing presence ranges throughout the earlier volumes of the "Salterton" Trilogy. The substantial income from her estate is to be used to send an unmarried young woman to Europe to pursue an education in the arts. Mrs. Bridgetower's executors end up selecting Monica Gall, an almost entirely unschooled singer whose sole experience comes from performing with the Heart and Hope Gospel Quartet, a rough outfit sponsored by a small fundamentalist group. Monica soon finds herself in England, a pupil of some of Britain's most remarkable teachers and composers, and she gradually blossoms from a Canadian rube to a cosmopolitan soprano with a unique - and tragicomic - career.
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