I'm sorry but my memory is quite spotty on this but I'm obsessed with trying to remember this book. I don't remember the author or title at all. I barely remember a few things.

  • the main character was a man who I think was a stage magician but there was always this ambiguity about whether or not the magic he did was real or if it was all just tricks. This wasn't a fantasy novel. It almost had a bit of psychic or occult feel.
  • I seem to recall that a lot of the story revolved about this man and his relationship with two other women, sometimes at the same time.
  • there was something on the back cover blurb about "sense of wonder"
  • I have a vague recollection of the book cover. It was orange and blue (and green?). It may have been published by Penguin
  • I read the book in the mid-1990s and there is a good chance that I bought this book at an English bookstore somewhere in Europe (Spain, Italy, or France).
  • the edition of the book I had was a trade paperback
  • the overall feel of the book seemed to be like Hemmingway (but not depressing) or the movie Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

That's about all I can remember now. Any hints at finding this book would be appreciated.

  • Was this book set in the present, or some different time? Do you remember where it was set?
    – Kitkat
    Jul 26, 2021 at 18:56
  • IRRC, it was set in the present or close to the present. I don't feel like I solidly remember the setting but I think it was either East Coast US or Western Europe (or both).
    – Mindxing
    Jul 26, 2021 at 19:47
  • Did the third book feature a scene where the protagonist had to make their way out of cavern with a parallel drawn to childbirth with him wriggling out of the tight entrance of the cavern, naked and covered in a mix of mud, blood, and his own fecal matter? The title might have referenced a gryphon? Jul 27, 2021 at 16:37
  • 1
    Sounds like Robertson Davies's Deptford Trilolgy. Jul 27, 2021 at 17:09
  • That is it! Thank you so much!
    – Mindxing
    Jul 27, 2021 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


kimchi lover posted the answer as a comment, and Mindxing confirmed it. Posting an answer so that it's evident that it has been answered.

Comments showing answer provided, and acceptance

This is Robertson Davies's Deptford Trilogy, probably specifically the third book, Worlds of Wonder:

Front cover of the Penguin Classics edition of Worlds of Wonder

World of Wonders—the third book in the series after The Manticore—follows the story of Magnus Eisengrim—the most illustrious magician of his age—who is spirited away from his home by a member of a traveling sideshow, the Wanless World of Wonders. After honing his skills and becoming better known, Magnus unfurls his life’s courageous and adventurous tale in this third and final volume of a spectacular, soaring work.

  • Was this, indeed, the correct book of the trilogy, or were you looking for one of the other two? Aug 3, 2021 at 1:34

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