The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

So I’m attempting to brush off the dust from this excessively unused blog. I find typing anything that will be visible to someone other than myself a very hard thing to do.  I’ve heard or read before that the internet is a haven for shy people.  I would like to object to that, as I’m finding myself too shy even for the internet! But I love books, and would love to find a way to become a member, or at least slightly less of a lurker, of a book community. And so…

I guess it seems silly to point out where I heard about this book from, because it seems to be everywhere. But I first heard about it from the Bookrageous podcast. It was mentioned as a book that can withstand the format change from a physical book to an ebook, which I agree with, I read this as an ebook and that did not hinder my enjoyment at all.

I usually try to avoid books about circuses since reading The World of Wonders by Robertson Davies. That’s not to say that is a bad book, but it was rather traumatic to learn what a circus geek is. But The Night Circus avoids any bad circus connotations.

So anyways! Once, an aunt of mine tried to describe Harry Potter to my grandma as how you wish school had been when you were growing up. The circus in this book, Le Cirque des Reves, is what I wish circuses were like now. (Although I’ve never been to the circus).

Even the food was amazing. Apples dipped in caramel so dark they appeared almost blackened but remained light and crisp and sweet. Chocolate bats with impossibly delicate wings. The most disiciouls cider Bailey had ever tasted.

Everything was magical. And it seemed to go on forever. None of the pathways ended, they curved into others or circled back to the courtyard.

I think people are comparing this book to Harry Potter quite often. What I really liked about the Harry Potter books was the invention of this new world, where everything is new and magical. When I reread those books, it’s to return to the world of Harry Potter rather than to read the plot. I don’t want to downplay the plot of The Night Circus, but that’s what I really like about this book. The author created another world within Le Cirque des Reves that I want to visit.

A little sidenote- when I first saw the author’s name, Erin Morgenstern, I thought that her last name was a reference to The Princess Bride. But it turns out that Morgenstern is not an absolutely uncommon last name.

I don’t want to spoil much about this book, so I’m going to put more specific observations after the break that are meant for people that have already read it.I was intrigued with the concept of the Reveurs, the circus groupies who followed the circus around. I recently went to Disney World with my mom and spent a lot of time beforehand looking up websites dedicated to various rides and Disney world in general.  There are adults who are fascinated with Disney World and attend almost every year, loving everything from the food, the decorations and buildings, the music, to the rides. The Reveurs reminded me of these Disney World-loving adults. That sounds critical, but I don’t mean it to be. I’m sure that I would be a Reveur if such a circus existed.

Towards the end of the book, one of the characters, Tsukiko, explains that she’s been reading love letters that the other two main characters write to each other in the form of the attractions throughout the circus. Earlier in the book, there is a very small scene where a slow moving statue accepts a rose and a love letter from a woman. I wondered in the woman was Celia, who was delivering a letter written two Marco, her competition. The woman is dressed similar to how Celia dresses when she is walking around the circus after her performances.

While I enjoyed the end of the book I was a little concerned with a few points. I thought one of the main themes of the book was how the competition between Celia and Marco affected the participants in the circus who were unaware that the circus was the venue for their competition. These participants never aged after the commencement of the circus and for many years no one is injured within its bounds. The owner of the circus lives in a dreamy reality where he is vaguely aware that he has lost control of his creation but is never able to retain memory long enough to do anything about it. In the end, Celia and Marco find a way to end their competition such that the circus will continue in their absence, or at least the absence of their control. But won’t this still leave the members of the circus in a place where they are ignorant of the magic that is manipulating their lives?

So next up for books that I’m reading or have finished and are in need of a post- Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, The Magicial King by Lev Grossman, and Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

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