TITLE: The Night Circus
AUTHOR: Erin Morgenstern
PAGE COUNT: 502 pages
PUBLISHER: Vintage Books, Random House
PUBLICATION DATE: 13 September 2011
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult & Romance
SYNOPSIS: 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, 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.
From the moment I read the synopsis, I knew this book would be one of my most favourite reads. I have been hearing about this book so many times over the past couple of years and was so happy to finally get to it.
This book is absolutely captivating and it all felt like a dream. Whenever I needed to return to the real world, all I could think about was this one and oh, how I longed to return to it. I honestly do not think I have every read a book with such an interesting intro. The first few pages had my full attention and it was as if I held my breath while reading it.
Honestly such a magical world and ever since I finished it a few weeks ago, I have been wanting to reread it. It is that addicting!
The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.
“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”
“Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it’s really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.”
“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 souchong, 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. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and 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. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that… there are many kinds of magic, after all.”
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes. The future is never set in stone, remember that.
“I am tired of trying to hold things together that cannot be held. Trying to control what cannot be controlled. I am tired of denying myself what I want for fear of breaking things I cannot fix. They will break no matter what we do.”
We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams around from place to place.
But dreams have ways of turning into nightmares.
“I have tried to let you go and I cannot. I cannot stop thinking of you. I cannot stop dreaming about you.”
“You’re in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that’s enough.”
The most difficult thing to read is time. Maybe because it changes so many things.
Only the ship is made of books, its sails thousands of overlapping pages, and the sea it floats upon is dark black ink.
“I would have written you, myself, if I could put down in words everything I want to say to you. A sea of ink would not be enough.”
“But you built me dreams instead.”
“Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon . . . is not the dragon the hero of his own story?”
People don’t pay much attention to anything unless you give them reason to.
“I couldn’t tell the difference between what was real and what I wanted to be real.”
To be rather than to seem.
“I think looking forward will be better than looking back.”
The truest tales require time and familiarity to become what they are.
“And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep going on, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead.”
“Because I do not wish to know,” he says. “I prefer to remain unenlightened, to better appreciate the dark.”
“Strange, isn’t it? To love a book. When the words on the pages become so precious that they feel like part of your own history because they are. It’s nice to finally have someone read stories I know so intimately.”
We must put effort and energy into anything we wish to change.
Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime. In one form or another.
We are all stardust and stories.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong being a dreamer.”
“The past stays on you the way powdered sugar stays on your fingers. Some people can get rid of it but it’s still there, the events and things that pushed you to where you are now.”
“You need to understand your limitations so you can overcome them.”
Everyone wants the stars. Everyone wishes to grasp that which exists out of reach. To hold the extraordinary in their hands and keep the remarkable in their pockets.
“Be brave,” she says. “Be bold. Be loud. Never change for anyone but yourself. Any soul worth their star-stuff will take the whole package as is and however it grows. Don’t waste your time on anyone who doesn’t believe you when you tell them how you feel.”
Better to have a single perfect diamond than a sack of flawed stones.
“You will be fine,” the fortune teller says. “There may be decisions to make and surprises in store. Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes. The future is never set in stone, remember that.”
“You believe you could not live with the pain. Such pain is not lived with. It is only endured. I am sorry.”
But the world is strange and endings are not truly endings no matter how the stars might wish it so.
Timing is a sensitive thing.
A boy at the beginning of a story has no way of knowing that the story has begun.
A reading major, that’s what he wants. No response papers, no exams, no analysis, just the reading.
This is not magic. This is the way the world is, only very few people take the time to stop and note it.
Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act?
Erin Morgenstern is the author of The Night Circus, a number-one national best seller that has been sold around the world and translated into thirty-seven languages. She has a degree in theater from Smith College and lives in Massachusetts.
Keep on reading, and never stop telling stories.