Friday, January 27, 2012

The Night Circus by Tess Morgenstern


The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazement's. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

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, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

My thoughts:
I really wanted to read this book, but the opportunity to listen to the audio version from the library came up and I took it.  I always wonder when I listen to a book if it would have been the same experience reading it myself.  I love that Jim Dale who read the Harry Potter books I listened to with my children was the narrator.  I have to say some of his voices sounded just like they did for certain Harry Potter characters and it threw me until I got used to it.  Another thing that gave me more trouble with the audio was the jumping back and forth in time, as some chapters are happening in the future or the past.

I purposefully did not read much of anything about this book, not even the synopsis, so I could experience the story on my own without thinking about what other thought about it.  i skimmed a few blogger reviews, but that was it.  There was so much talk about the book that I knew I wanted to read it.

The funny thing is my Ipod only gave me a very blurry picture of the cover and I thought the picture was a doll in someones hand.  When I pulled it up just now I saw that it was the circus on a hand instead.  I think the circus does become a character in the story so it is fitting my tiny image was what I thought was a doll or small child, a character in all of the action.

I was reminded of the Hugh Jackman movie, The Prestige, and the other one with Christian Bale, The Illusionist, because of the time period and the performances of magic on stage.  There was something unique about each of the characters and even as they continued to appear and interact, new facets about them would emerge from the story. 

It made me wonder how much hinges on time and being in the right place, or wrong place, at the right or wrong time.  None of us can control time and things can be decided based on being late or early.  Isabelle meets Marco because her train is late.  Bailey misses the train when the circus leaves early.    Also, how much do any of us understand the big picture of everything that goes around in the world around us and how much are we just cognizant of our own little bubble of it.  Do we see how our actions reach out to others?  Not to the extent that Celia and Marco are effecting others, but there are ripples from all that we do that go outward farther than any of us can know.

I saw when looking at some reviews tonight that many, many people loved this book and some others were less than thrilled with it.  I'm not in the less thrilled camp, but it did feel like a bit of a slow start to me, once I got into it I wanted to listen whenever I had a chance and listened to quite a bit today while I did a long run on the treadmill.  It gave me something to focus on while I was running and a reason to keep going as I knew I was very close to the end!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385534635
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 9/13/2011
Pages: 400


  1. I read the book and believe it would be much better in book form. I think the audio would lose a lot of the flow and "magic" that I enjoyed so much in the written word. I highly recommend reading it!

  2. I'm in the loved it camp. I do wonder if people would like a book on paper they didn't on audio or vice versa.

  3. I'm going to read this one day, I know I will.

  4. I've heard this audio is fantastic, though it's interesting that you thought the narrator's voices were similar to those for Harry Potter. That would throw me off too!

    (Jill, I'm working on a tour for The Lantern (TLC Book Tours) and wondered if you wanted to be on the tour? Shoot me an email if you're interested.)

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