Thursday, February 21, 2013
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance. -- Anchor
My book club decided to read THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern as our February pick. I was extremely excited since I've had this book on my shelf for some time now (I won it from Jenn's Bookshelves!) and had never gotten around to reading it. I had heard that it's a beautiful novel, and while it's not exactly my normal reading fare, I thought it sounded intriguing.
For those of you who have been living under a rock(!), THE NIGHT CIRCUS tells the story of Le Cirque des Reves, a traveling circus that "magically" appears and opens only at night. There are some traditional circus acts, and some not so traditional ones; and the entire circus is decorated in black and white -- absolutely no color.
While this circus is the basis for this novel, the story really delves into the special relationship between Celia and Marco, two magicians who have been training their whole lives for a competition against each other. They are given little details about this game-- and definitely not the important one that only one will be left standing; and they aren't quite sure what their role is. When they find themselves falling in love with each other, the game takes on a different meaning; and their actions end up having consequences for not only themselves but everyone involved in the "night circus."
I liked THE NIGHT CIRCUS a great deal, and there were even quite a few times when I thought I loved this novel. There is no doubt that it's an extremely well written piece of literature and unlike anything I've ever read. I will admit that I absolutely treasured the first half of this novel -- how the author brought the characters and the setting to life as well as how she told this story; however, I found that I was wanted a little more plot as the story went on. Having said that, the longer I've let this book stew in my thoughts, I've grown to appreciate it more and more -- and I liked how magical the story was!
I don't think I can do justice to explaining how amazing Ms. Morgenstern's writing skills are. Truly, this is one of those novels that you need to experience for yourself. The book's description barely touches the surface of everything this book encompasses, and I am still shaking my head at how the various story lines all came together at the end. There were lots of characters, both members of the circus as well as fans, and I never had an issue keeping them straight. In addition, the story was told in a non-linear format which could have been confusing, yet all of it just meshed perfectly into a beautiful tale.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend this month's book club meeting to discuss the book and see what all of my friends thought -- both of my kids were suffering from the flu and my husband was out of town; however, I did hear that everyone liked the book quite a bit. Beyond that, I have no idea what we discussed! I'm pretty sure we used this reading guide to get started. These twenty questions are complex and require some deep thought and I bet the discussion was fascinating! Some of the topics that you might want to explore further include the concept of dreams, morals/ethics, deception, love, competition and much more. There is also a great deal of symbolism to analyze including some Shakespeare references, the bonfire, and the concept of time to name just a few.
Overall, I found THE NIGHT CIRCUS to be a beautifully written story that transported me to a magical place and time. Highly recommended.