The Night Circus

For those who have already read this book (that’s many of you, I’m guessing!) blankspace Spoilers ahead.

You’ve been warned.

[updated to add a link to Anna’s excellent review which will give you plot summary, etc., so you can go read that if you would rather.]

Thoughts and Questions    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Doubleday 2011, Hardback 387 pages

I read this for my IRL “The Bookies” Book Club; discussion to be 1/26.

First Sentence:  “The circus arrives without warning.”

blanks            Did you not love it when Widget says this to the man in grey? Did you not love that grey is spelled with an ‘e’ throughout? I think grey is a different color than gray, personally, though quite similar; would you disagree?

I adored the names that the author chose for her characters. Although…. I kept wondering about Poppet and Widget. Not that this has much to do with the names exactly but I was hoping for more explanation of how/why the magic was involved in their birth.  Destined accident? I would love for someone to explore this further. I keep wondering if I missed something.

I wanted more of Marco. Wasn’t totally convinced of why he ‘took’ to his studies so eagerly. I imagine that if I was left to my own devices, I would have strayed a lot earlier in the ‘mission’ than he did. At least Celia had an inkling of what was ahead for her even if she didn’t grasp the details.

And Isobel sure amazed me with how long she put up with Marco. Thirty years?!  Let’s explore this more, shall we? All the spying on Celia that she had to do, the getting stood up at the cafe, being able to read the cards and still wonder if Marco ‘loved’ her. She has hellavulots of patience.

OK, I admit and my goodreads updates will confirm this, I really thought she turned Marco to dust. Uh OH. I was quite taken aback.

I also think Lainie should have married the architect. But I was impressed with why she didn’t; her thought processes about it.

One of my favorite parts was the first circus meeting and how the architect was hesitant but quickly changed his mind, “He decides then that he rather enjoys unusual late-night social functions, and should endeavor to attend them more frequently.” Do you think Marco had a hand in the amazing food creations for these dinners? I would love to know more about the chefs and kitchen staff but that is probably just problematic of me watching entirely too much Food Network.

Overall, I liked this book much more than I expected to. After reading so many gushing reviews (and not really reading them because I shy from posts like this one that gives EVERYTHING away. In fact, I might have to take this to a different page so you have to click over), I had mixed feelings about whether or not this was something I would enjoy. I finally succumbed. And when it was a The-Bookies selection, I was honestly delighted to have an extra push.

If you are a faithful reader of this blog and even if you are I wouldn’t blame you for missing this but I bought this book as a gift for my friend Holly. She is one of my IRL friends that loves to talk books as much as I do. We frequently meet for coffee and chat chat chat books books books and she is a true delight and a gem of wonderfulness in my life. Anyhoo. When I found out that this novel was selected for January Book Club (after I had given it to her), I told her she had to read it NOW and get it to me by mid-Jan so I would have time to finish for discussion! Unfortunately, she ‘couldn’t get into it’. She gave it back to me (and I still intend on giving it back to her – I think her daughter might enjoy it) and I hope she accepts or even attempts to try again.

It does tend to damper the enthusiasm for a book when a good friend has DNF’ed it. She’s not the kind of book friend that always dislikes what I like so I was concerned.

I really enjoyed all of the characters. All of them. Celia was my favorite. The descriptions; the setting, the magic, the feasts were absolutely fabulous. I thought the pacing was almost perfect. On the other hand, the flipping back and forth to know which year was what/when did annoy me and I kept wondering if it was worth the bother.  [I told MBR not to bother with worrying about it and just go with the flow so we’ll see what she says Thursday. (Hope I wasn’t being too manipulative.)]

I adored the clock maker. I really loved how these secondary characters were so darn likable and woven into the main story so intricately.

Why Bailey? Was he chosen as early as the dare? Or was his acceptance and his breaking into the circus ‘the choice’? Could we have another book coming that continues the Bailey-Poppet-Widget running of the circus? (truly, I haven’t heard any rumors or confirmations on this, but did I hear movie options have been discussed?)

Is magic REAL? or is the ability to ‘do’ magic a talent or a learned skill?  It does bring up the whole question of what is choice and what is destiny, don’t ya think?

Have your ever had your Tarot cards read?  I have. I barely recall the first time but I was supposed to inherit money from a rich relative. Could still happen. The second time, the reader said that my husband would win his fishing tournament. He didn’t even place. But the third time was both extremely vague and spot on. Very interesting. I think Morgenstern captured this delicate balance very well. “You always have a choice.”  But my question is always, do you end up choosing as you were destined? or does destiny play out either way? Makes my head hurt to ponder.

Did you have to open a dictionary to look up ‘exsanguinated’?

OMG! I just read the back cover! Katherine Dunn wrote a blurb!!! And THAT m’DEARs is your clue that you must read Geek Love if you happen to enjoy circus books. I really wouldn’t put myself into that category but now that I think of it, I enjoyed Water for Elephants, too. Of these three, Geek Love is still my favorite. In fact, I gave Geek Love 5 stars in goodreads, The Night Circus 4 stars – or 4 slices of Boston Creme Pie (another squeeee moment while reading), and Water for Elephants 3 stars.

The blurb? Here ya go:

The Night Circus is a gorgeously imagined fable poised in the high latitudes of Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde, with a few degrees toward Hesse’s Steppenwolf for dangerous spice. The tale is masterfully written and invites allegorical interpretations even as its leisurely but persistent suspense gives it compelling charm. An enchanting read.”

I haven’t read Steppenwolf; guess I better go tbr that.  And as to allegorical interpretations? Please let me know some?

Should I wear all black plus a red scarf to book club next week?  [scurries to closet to see if I even have a red scarf.]


Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

44 thoughts on “The Night Circus

  1. I. Love. This. Review. 😀

    1. I did not have to look up the word exsanguinated. This is not because I’m smart. This is because I know the word for blood in French. 😀

    2. I read my tarot every day. Just a single card, though once a month or so, I’ll do a full spread. Anyone who tries to predict the future with them is not using them correctly. Tarot is more like counseling – helping you to see through your own issues to figure out your thoughts. I’ve actually don’t some virtual tarot readings (through private vlogs) for two of my blog readers and have thought about asking if anyone else wants one.

    3. I dressed as a reveur for Halloween. It was awesome. 😀

    4. Steppenwolf scares me.

    1. 1. oh! Thank you. 😀

      2. I really do think Morgenstern captured just the right tone (if TONE is the right word…) or something of the mystery without it being spooky. Not sure that makes a bit of sense. But, I so wanted to know more – like when the Angel card was flipped – I wish I knew instantly which card and what it might suggest. I did attempt to google for it but didn’t know enough how to find what I was looking for.

      3. Now I ‘get’ it. 😀

      4. Why does Steppenwolf scare you? You, the one who loves Nobokov – the scariest literature _(no word comes to mind but I need a noun here)__ out there.

  2. Visually, it was stunning which is weird to say when there were no illustrations to speak of. Because of the imagery the author created with words, I fell in love with it. The plot was okay and a little slow in places, but the rest made up for it.

  3. Not to worry – I scrolled to the end of your post so nothing was spoiled for me. I’m glad to hear you liked it – I’m on hold for it at the library but may succumb to temptation and buy it, even though I’ve sworn up and down I’m not going to buy any more books after the heart-breaking book decluttering I had to go through last year! It sounds like such a gorgeous, magical read (based on all the reviews of it I’ve read, anyway).

  4. Oh, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I admit this book didn’t quite do it for me, but I can see where everyone was swept up in the magic of it. I am not sure why *I* was not, but well, no doubt some other book will wow me that doesn’t wow others 🙂

  5. I haven’t read this book yet, but read your post anyway. I will eventually read it, though I’m not in a hurry to. I love the premise, and from what I can gather, the execution has flaws, so when I’m ready for it, I’ll pick this up. I think it’s interesting that a book can have so many reactions to it. It’s like it reflects all the kinds of people and readers that exist. I will read this one day! In the meantime, very fun and enjoyable review, Care! Do wear the scarf (just because it’s fun to link a book to something real, sometimes).

    As for tarot cards – does the book mention it is using a regular tarot deck? The Angel is usually Temperance, which means balance (if one key word were to apply). Does that tie in to the place in the story for the character? This is only if regular meanings and tarot were used in the story…..

  6. I loved this book! It was just so magical. Some things didn’t make sense to me, but that was okay by me. So glad that you loved it too. Great review!

  7. OK, I still haven’t read this entry because I STILL have 100 pages to go in the book. What is with that? I’m reading it like crazy and yet there are still always nearly as many pages yet to be read – kinda like magic…

  8. I loved this book and also wished for more about why Poppet and Widget’s birth was significant. One day I’ll make time to reread it and let you know if I discover anything more.
    I think dressing as a reveur for book club is practically required if you liked the book at all. It was a proud moment for me when my review got listed on Morgenstern’s page under Reveurs.

    1. Somerhing abt how strong Marco’s magic was that he didn’t even realize but I couldn’t follow it.

      OK! I’m off to see if I can borrow a red scarf….

    1. Loan me a red scarf? Nevermind, it wouldn’t get here in time.

      Of course, they will get it. My group has some bright cookies. And a few of them actually read this blog. Amazing, huh?

  9. I got all caught up in the buzz about this one, picked it up and did the flip test with a copy in Sam’s and . . . it failed. So, I’m not planning to read it. I did know the meaning of the word “exsanguinated”, but I looked it up to make certain. Yep, I was correct. I have a vague idea where I might have learned the word but it’s nothing exciting.

    Love the header pic!

  10. Finished it! At the dinner table, while the rest of them were talking.
    Loved it. Dare not comment further ’cause I’m in the euphoria of having just read a book that had me captivated. And that will make any of my statements unreliable.. Must let the (magic) dust settle.
    For now, though, it’s a fave.

  11. I skimmed your post to find how many slices of pie and what kind. Did I miss it?! That’s all I want to know. Strawberry Rhubarb? Or something chocolatey? Must know.

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