Published September 2011 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Source: this is my copy bought to read with the Omaha Bookworms
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 amazements. 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 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.
At some point in The Night Circus Morgenstern uses the word "enchanted" to describe Le Cirque des Reves. I had only just used the word "enchanting to describe this book. As in, I was utterly and completely under Morgenstern's spell almost throughout this book as she wove back and forth in time, back and forth between points of view.
"The man billed as Prospero the Enchanter receives a fair amount of correspondence via the theater office, but this is the first envelope addressed to him that contains a suicide note, and it is also the first to arrive carefully pinned to the coat of a five-year-old girl."
As much as the circus is the centerpiece of the novel and certainly a character in the book, Morgensterns human characters carried the book for me and their story arc pulled me along. That little girl, Celia, tugged at my heartstrings from beginning to end.
I'm sure I've mentioned here before that I have a problem with magic in books and it is what kept me from reading The Night Circus despite all of the rave reviews I've read. I needn't have let it concern me. The fact that magic was so central to the book took the story into the fantasy realm far enough for me to not try to reconcile it to reality yet it I was enough concerned with what was happening to the characters to often forget that magic was even a part of the story.
"Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchon, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. 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."
Morganstern started The Night Circus seven years ago during NaNoWriMo. For those of you considering committing 50,000 words to paper in November, the lesson is to not give up at the end of the month - keep at that book. Tweak it, edit it, add to it, delete from it...stay with it. You never know what your vision might become.