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World of Wonders (The Deptford Trilogy #3)

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  2,818 ratings  ·  117 reviews
This is the third novel in Davies's major work, The Deptford Trilogy. This novel tells the life story of the unfortunate boy introduced in Fifth Business, who was spirited away from his Canadian home by one of the members of a traveling side show, the Wanless World of Wonders.
Paperback, 310 pages
Published June 24th 2005 by Penguin Canada (first published 1975)
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Terry
My 5 star rating of this book really reflects my feelings on how I think Davies masterfully wrapped up the Deptford trilogy than it does an individual rating for this volume itself (don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but I think Fifth Business is the strongest, and best, volume in the trilogy). I guess I’d say that the individual books themselves range from around 3.5 to 4.5 stars, but the series overall is a five star read. As with all of the Deptford books _World of Wonders_ is a personal memoir ...more
Diane S.
An amazing trilogy, all taken together. Ramsay was by far my favorite character and was glad to see him back in this last story.Also loved learning how Paul became an amazing magician. More of Liesel was in this book and I found her character fascinating. Of course the big question of who killed Boy Staunton is solved in this ending piece.

Wonderfully well written this whole trilogy pinpointed the small minds that can live in a village, where everyone knows everything about each other. Judgments
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Ben Babcock
Yay, Ramsay is back! Not that David Staunton was a terrible narrator, but I will always, always have a soft spot in my heart for that irascible old teacher, descended from Scots and obsessed with saints. And now here he is, back to narrating the book. Sort of.

Although Ramsay is technically the narrator, he is consigned to the frame story, and Magnus Eisengrim (or Paul Dempster, back when he was from Deptford) takes centre stage. World of Wonders is notable if only for the fact that most of the p
...more
Alan Chen
This is the final novel of the Deptford Trilogy and focuses on the story of Magnus Eisengrim,who was born Paul Dempsey, from the village of Deptford that gave us the heroes of the other two novels: Dunstan Ramsay and Boy Staunton. The novels are more different angles of the same major events that begin in Deptford and highlights the times when the lives of those main characters converge. Each of the novels can be read by itself but theirs a richness/depth when read together. Because Davies allow ...more
Wanda
World ofWonders completes Robertson Davies’ Deptford Trilogy, giving the reader a third window on the same period of time—after Dunstan Ramsey and David Staunton, now Magnus Eisengrim aka Paul Dempster. Although this book is nominally narrated by Ramsey, it is Eisengrim’s story that is highlighted, with Ramsey reporting [the recording angel?]—the trip from being Nobody to being very much Somebody.

This is very much a universal trip, that of being Nobody within our mothers’ wombs to becoming Som
...more
Dale
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sabrina
Oct 22, 2007 Sabrina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
World of Wonders is the least captivating of the Deptford Trilogy, but the work as a whole -- starting with Fifth Business -- is certainly one of the best I've ever read. The books examine the lives and thoughts of three men who are all linked to one another; Davies' structure and storytelling are extraordinarily polished and fine.

I can't recommend anything more heartily than the Deptford Trilogy, but if you have any doubts about committing to the entire trilogy, I can say this this: Go pick up
...more
Justin
Who killed Boy Staunton? That's the question finally answered in this final installment of Davies' Deptford Trilogy. The first book "Fifth Business" is the best of the bunch and worth reading on its own. The second ,"The MAnticore" is a bit dull and this one is somewhat better. It's certainly an interesting bunch of characters but I am not sure it was worth reading the entire trilogy just to tie up the loose ends from the first book.
Steve
The first hundred pages seems to drag as we delve into Paul Dempster's early life as a carny. However, World of Wonders finally begins to take off as Dempster arrives in Europe and we are introduced to some interesting new characters with whom we can sympathize
Davies saves the last fifty pages of the trilogy to finally give us some tidbits into the life and personality of Liesl whom, for myself, was one of the most interesting characters in the entire series.

As to the Deptford trilogy itself, W
...more
Victor Сонькин)
Well, "Fifth Business" keeps its place as No. 1 in the Deptford Trilogy for me, but both of the other books, and World of Wonders especially, are almost encroaching on it. A pseudo-memoir, an extravaganza of unreliable narration, a panorama of carnie life in Canadian wilderness and of theater life in interbellum London, with a couple of twists and turns along the way. The trilogy is a must-read.
Anna
The Deptford Trilogy comes full circle with this installment, where Magnus Eisengrim relates the story of his life to Dunstan Ramsey and a handful of others. Through this telling, readers get another perspective on some events from the previous books - especially Fifth Business - but Magnus as a narrator (and a character) is very different from Ramsey and David Staunton.

Ramsey is actually our main narrator, as in Fifth Business, and readers have access to his thoughts and feelings, but his narra
...more
Terri Jacobson
Another amazing reading experience from Robertson Davies. This book is the 3rd volume of The Deptford Trilogy. It's the story of the life of Magnus Eisengrim after he left the Canadian town of Deptford, where he and the narrator, Dunstan Ramsey, got their start in life. This was a reread of the trilogy for me. I first read it 25 years ago, but this time around the writing was, for me, still fresh and meaningful. Davies explores the usual theme of Canada and the Canadian character, especially in ...more
Janet
I first discovered Robertson Davies in the late 1970s. I started with 'Fifth Business', the first book in "The Deptford Trilogy". I immediately fell in love with Davies and I quickly devoured the other two books in the trilogy. In May of 2012 I read 'Fifth Business' again, and I fell in love again. I consider it a masterpiece; it is very likely my favorite book of all time. In February of 2013 I reread the 2nd book in the trilogy, 'The Manticore'. As it was when I read it the first time, it is m ...more
Timmy
After the triumph that was Fifth Business and the wonderful sequel The Manticore, I wondered how the series would end and also how this book would stand against the previous impeccable books. While not as good as the first book, because few things are, this was still an amazing read. Paul Dempster's life is odd but enthralling and the story brings the events of Fifth Business full circle and closes the trilogy nicely.
Lauren Hu
The quintessential Davies. His abilities to ground a setting, tell a fantastical story in a subdued fashion, and draw wonderful, lifelike characters are at their peak here. Davies is so remarkably intelligent and well-reasoned that he manages to make Freudian psychoanalysis, so out of fashion, entirely logical. His psychological insight into the inner lives of his characters is deep and eschews trendy scientific jargon, saving it from becoming dated.
Alberto
Se cierra la trilogía con otro libro absorbente. La historia de Paul Dempster resulta ser de esas que te incitan a leerlas de un tirón.
Hay detalles en la primera parte que no encajan, lo que hace que me pregunte si la discordancia obedece a un fallo del escritor o a que se nos insinúa que parte de la historia ha de estar forzosamente falseada: por ejemplo en ningún momento se alude a que el crecimiento de Dempster le provoque problemas dentro de Abdalá, o el hecho de que cuando muere el orangut
...more
Kim
This was my least favorite out of the Deptford Trilogy. It was still a good read, and it was interesting to learn what really happened to Boy Staunton, but something about Magnus Eisengrim just annoyed me!
Jackie "the Librarian"
Oct 21, 2007 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: if you like weird characters
The weirdest and most fantastic of the Deptford Trilogy.
Becky
I think I may have the entire Deptford Trilogy on the bookshelf upstairs. These are great books, well worth revisiting. So many books, so little time!
Edgar Samar
My thoughts on this book are posted here: http://edgarsamar.com/2013/04/12/tran...
Julia
This is the final installment in Davies' Deptford trilogy, and wow, what a great payoff... I was really glad that this book returned to the lives and perspectives of Ramsay and Paul Dempster/Magnus Eisengrim, now old. We finally get to hear what happened to Paul Dempster, or at least what he chooses to tell as his story, unreliable narrator though he may be. Lots of magic (not actual magic, but stage-performed magic) and theater, and such a deeply weird/human understanding of who these odd peopl ...more
Coyle
A good book to have under your belt, but not particularly exciting putting it there.
Marian Deegan
During the 2004 holiday season at a client party, I met a speaker on the public circuit famous for exploring what he dubbed the "cult marketing" of corporations like Harley and Target. He captures his audience's attention by performing the most technically skilled card tricks I've ever witnessed at close range. Cults and cards. I decided to chat him up. Turned out, he shared my interest in Jung. Cults, cards, and the collective unconscious. This was getting interesting. And then, his description ...more
Mars
Those of you who can remember that far back might recall that I complained that I only like Davies' old people.
This book is all about them, yay!

Magnus Eisengrim's life story is revealed - along with descriptions of circus life at the beginning of the century, and many musings.

While some things will be less-than-comprehensible without reading the other books of the series, the bits are minor enough that it isn't particularly relevant, and I'd recommend skipping straight to this one anyway and ign
...more
Mary Jean Phillips
Explaining how Paul Dempster became Magnus Eisengrim, this last book in the Deptford trilogy is an account of how personality develops. The title "World of Wonders" seems ironic to me, as it explores the dingy reality behind a seemingly magical façade. A fine metaphor. The ultimate conclusion that myth, illusion, and faith are our desperate attempts to reconcile the cruelness of the world (and are pretty effective) left me with a sense of tragic fulfillment. Autobiography (the vehicle for Davies ...more
Justin Mitchell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kim Fay
I gave this book four stars rather than five (as I gave the previous two books in the Deptford Trilogy) because despite how well-written "World of Wonders" is, I kept getting bogged down. This book did not seem to have the same kind of focus that "Fifth Business" and "The Manticore" did. The technique of having the story told through the main character's verbal sharing of it with others did not work as well here. But the story of that character, Magnus Eisengrim, is still a fascinating one, main ...more
Mark
This is probably the smartest book I've ever read and a fitting end to the Deptford Trilogy. I have to confess though that at times it was not an easy read. It falls into a pattern of narrative followed by a section characters commenting on narrative, then repeat. The comment sections tend to be densely philosphical and thereby can be pretty slow going. Just past the halfway point, howver, a surprise conflict is introduced which activate and focus these sections which got me to realize what the ...more
Dijon Chiasson
The final installment of The Deptford Trilogy was its weakest, but that is hardly an insult, given the quality of the first two. This isn't a trilogy in the modern sense, in which an author hastily writes a couple sequels to cash in on the first book's success. The trilogy was set up in the haunting opening scene of Fifth Business. Davies was a man with a plan.

While Magnus Eisengrim is a fascinating character, I found the device in which Davies frames the narrative a bit hard to believe. Really
...more
Lara
This was definitely my least favorite book of The Deptford Trilogy; I enjoyed the beginning, and the end was fantastic, with everything over the course of the series finally tied up beautifully. But the middle...dragged for me.

Even so, there's a lot in this one that will stick with me. I loved the descriptions Magnus gives of becoming Sir John's shadow, or double, and I was struck by the cause of Leisl's grotesqueness, as someone in my family is affected by the same disorder, though to a much l
...more
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William Robertson Davies, CC, FRSC, FRSL (born August 28, 1913, at Thamesville, Ontario, and died December 2, 1995 at Orangeville, Ontario) was a Canadian novelist, playwright, critic, journalist, and professor. He was one of Canada's best-known and most popular authors, and one of its most distinguished "men of letters", a term Davies is sometimes said to have detested. Davies was the founding Ma ...more
More about Robertson Davies...

Other Books in the Series

The Deptford Trilogy (4 books)
  • Fifth Business
  • The Manticore
  • The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders
Fifth Business The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders What's Bred in the Bone (Cornish Trilogy, #2) The Rebel Angels (Cornish Trilogy, #1) The Manticore

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