The Night Circus


The Night CircusA novel as magical as this should not go unnoticed.  Do you want to feel like a child again? Did you always love the circus, even though you may never have gone to one?  After reading this story, did you consider yourself a rêveur?  I know I did.  I would like to dress like one and see if anyone notices!  I loved this book so much because it played with your mind and dreams—this is not an ordinary circus with clowns and ring masters, this is one that involves magic.
Along with the enchantments there is also an untold secret that weaves itself through the story, as we encounter Celia and Marco who grow up learning to train themselves using their special talents.  As they get older they realize their powers are meant to be part of a challenging “game”, where there can only be one winner.  When they meet face to face and realize they are opponents, the combat gets harder to accept because they eventually fall in love with one another.
There are two parts to the tale that are connected and come together in the end.   The first one deals with Celia and Marco.  In the second we are introduced to Bailey, who has an important role in keeping the circus alive, but he doesn’t know it yet.  He meets the twins Poppet and Widget who reveal the wonderful, mysterious world of their skills and life at the circus.
There are many big people in this novel who are needed to guarantee that the mechanisms of the circus work, while convincing the general public that nothing is amiss: there is Isobel, the fortune-teller; Tskiko, the contortionist; sisters Lainie and Tara Burgess; Mme Padva; Mr. Barris and Chandresh Christophe Lefèvre (who is responsible for the creation of the circus itself).  The real masterminds behind the whole challenge falls to Celia’s father, Hector Bowen and a man he competes against named Mr. A. H., who always wears a grey suit.  Both men use Celia and Marco as pawns in their game, but Hector is selfish and takes everything to the extreme, not caring about the consequences that may befall anyone who has ties to the circus.
Time is a recurring theme in this book—almost as if it is a character itself.  We notice how the clock maker (Herr Friedrick Thiessen) designs a master clock for the entrance to the circus and that all his clocks have some sort of connection to everything else, if not symbolizing something necessary.  Even the performers in the circus realize that they have not aged physically since they joined.  I can definitely see The Night Circus being made into a movie because of how descriptive the scenes are.
This is Morgenstern’s first novel, so I’m curious to see what other books she might write in the future.  If they are anything remotely close to this story, I would be happy to read it!  What did you feel about it?

If you are a member of the library, we have this title available in all formats:
Hard copy (F M8514n)
Large print (LTF M8514n)
Audio book (CD F M8514n)
Downloadable audio book
E-Book
Check the catalog for availability.

To read reviews on The Night Circus please click on the links below.
From The New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/books/review/the-night-circus-by-erin-morgenstern-book-review.html?_r=1

From The National Post:
http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/09/16/book-review-the-night-circus-by-erin-morgenstern/

For information about Erin Morgenstern, click below:
http://erinmorgenstern.com/about/

Discussion Questions
Here are some questions to ponder over after reading the novel:

-Poppet and Widget are especially affected by the lighting of the bonfire. How crucial are their “specialties” to the ongoing success of the circus?
-How does Isobel serve as a foil to Celia? Who, if anyone, fills that role for Marco?

Here are more questions to answer.  These and the ones above are generously provided by LitLovers:
http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/13-fiction/8579-night-circus-morgenstern?start=3

Interesting Tidbit:
The history of circus performances goes as far back as ancient times and the Middle Ages, but the real idea of a circus show in a building was established by Englishman Philip Astley.  He presented his first circus in a Parisian building called The Amphitheatre Anglois in 1782.  The first “Big Top” circus which housed the performance in a canvas tent was the creation of businessman Joshuah Purdy Brown in 1825.  For detailed information about the history of the circus, please click on the link below.
http://www.pbs.org/opb/circus/in-the-ring/history-circus/

This book reminded me of …
Several titles came to mind when I read this novel.  The circus aspect brought up Water for Elephants even though it does not have any magical elements and takes place in a different time frame.  There are tents and a romace, though.  The magical theme of Morgenstern’s book conjures up thoughts of Harry Potter and even the movie The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.  The fact that each character in The Night Circus posesses a special power also reminds me of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Favorite quote from book:
“Someone needs to tell those tales … There’s magic in that.  It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict.  From the mundane to the profound.  You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self purpose.  That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.  That is your role, your gift.” (p. 381)

Most intense/passionate moment in the story:
It is clear that Marco and Celia are strongly attracted to one another.  Not only is their bond to each other chemical but magical, when the air in the room changes and the ground almost shakes as the two simply touch for the first time. (p. 219-220)  We can’t leave out the scene where they finally end up kissing and all movement in the whole room stops—literally (p. 233)

Next month’s title:
The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman

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