Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Review: THE NIGHT CIRCUS

If you're looking for something to read while we wait for THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, here's my latest suggestion for the Methadone List.



THE NIGHT CIRCUS, by Erin Morgenstern

I just finished reading THE NIGHT CIRCUS, and I really enjoyed it.  The story centers around a unique circus, created in the late 19th century as a venue for a sort of contest on a grand scale, between a pair of young people with what we would consider magical powers:  the ability to transform objects, for example.  Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams) operates only at night, and everything within the boundary of the circus -- the tents, the performers' costumes, even the food -- appears in varying shades of black, white, gray, or silver.

THE NIGHT CIRCUS is an unforgettable story and a richly rewarding experience -- a delight for the senses, beautifully written, imaginative, and so vividly portrayed that the reader can experience something of what it must feel like to be inside the Cirque des Rêves.

As the story proceeds, the reader is drawn further and further into the circus, each new tent holding a surprise even more wondrous and beautiful than the last.  You will find yourself wishing that this circus actually existed so that you could experience it for yourself.

I had to laugh at the description of the "rêveurs" (fans who follow the circus), because this sounds so exactly like the way many of us (myself included!) respond to the OUTLANDER series:
It is these aficionados, these rêveurs, who see the details in the bigger picture of the circus.  They see the nuance of the costumes, the intricacy of the signs.  They buy sugar flowers and do not eat them, wrapping them in paper instead and carefully bringing them home.  They are enthusiasts, devotees.  Addicts.  Something about the circus stirs their souls, and they ache for it when it is absent.

They seek each other out, these people of such specific like mind.  They tell of how they found the circus, how those first few steps were like magic.  Like stepping into a fairy tale under a curtain of stars.  They pontificate upon the fluffiness of the popcorn, the sweetness of the chocolate.  They spend hours discussing the quality of the light, the heat of the bonfire.  They sit over their drinks smiling like children and they relish being surrounded by kindred spirits, if only for an evening.  When they depart, they shake hands and embrace like old friends, even if they have only just met, and as they go their separate ways they feel less alone than they had before.

(THE NIGHT CIRCUS, pp. 147-148, Nook edition)
By introducing this group of "rêveurs", the author has very cleverly given her readers a way to participate in the story, to be both witnesses to the action as it unfolds, and audience for all the wondrous sights, sounds, and sensations in the circus itself.

This is a keeper of a book, a story I'm going to return to more than once. My only (minor) complaint is that I found the jumping around in time to be a little disorienting, as in THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE.  But just as with that book, I think it will be much easier to understand on re-reading, once you're familiar with the characters and the sequence of events.

And I loved the ending.  Just wonderful. <g>

I would highly recommend this book.

2 comments:

Anne Velosa said...

I just listened to the audiobook, and I enjoyed the story too. The setting stood out, and the last plot line reveal that included the reader made me smile.

Anonymous said...

I was reading through your blog (really enjoy your Friday Fun Facts!) and saw this review. I loved this book - one of my favorites of 2011. I found the author's blog and she has little short stories you might enjoy:

http://erinmorgenstern.com/category/flax-golden/

Thanks again for the Friday Fun! :)

Katie