Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bookish Thoughts: Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. - Night Circus, Erin Morenstern

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Narrated by Jim Dale
Random House, 2011
Fiction; 

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is amazing. I so have to read it in written form! The language is gorgeous, the story mesmerizing, and the characters--mysterious and charming and utterly intriguing! There wasn't anything I didn't love about the novel. I am sure I missed something--the downfall of listening to the audio version. And this is a book I want to savor in all its written glory.

That isn't to say Jim Dale didn't do an excellent job as a narrator. My experience with audiobooks being so limited, I don't have many narrators to compare him with. Regardless, I felt his tone and melodic reading of the novel captured the essence of the characters and story. I was pleased with his performance--so much so that I absolutely loved the book and am glad I listened to it.

From the publisher: 
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 RĂªves, 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.

From the first moment I met Celia as a little girl, thrust into the care of a father who knew nothing about her existence after her mother's death, I knew I would like her. And the same went for Marco, an orphan taken in by a magician for the sole purpose of training and pitting against Celia and her father in a life altering competition. Both are trained in very different ways: Celia by practical usage of magic and Marco through books and the more technical aspects. The two do not actually meet until they are adults, and even then they lead their separate lives, the only tie being the circus which is the venue for the competition. Marco works behind the scenes, most often remaining in England, whereas Celia performs on stage as an illusionist, traveling with the circus. Their love for each other comes on very subtlety.  And yet even the reader cannot help but feel the pull of the two towards each other--and I more than anything wanted them to be able to find a way to be together despite the dire conditions of the competition, a competition neither of them volunteered for.

As the story unfolds, the two use their magic to create such beautiful and amazing spectacles for the circus, often building on each other's craft. They speak volumes about their makers and their hopes and dreams. It's truly enchanting. Oh, how I would love to have been able to attend the circus myself!

The circus is not your ordinary everyday circus. It almost has a life of its own, fueled by magic that many of those involved with its running aren't even aware of. The talented and eccentric people that make up the cast of characters are every bit as interesting. From the contortionist and tarot card reader to the human statues to the red-headed twins, Poppet and Widget, and their antics and the avid circus followers with their red scarves and loyalty. I think my favorite character, however, was Bailey, who was not part of the circus at all. He is simply a farmer's son, a patron of the circus, whose fate is somehow tied to the circus unbeknownst to him.

I was reminded a bit of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell as I listened to Night Circus. Although set at different ends of the 19th Century, the two share a similar tone. Both novels are more than what they seem on the surface, intricate in their complexities and thought provoking at their cores.

Night Circus has the feel of a fairy tale--it is a love story at its heart and a beautiful one at that. This is one of those books that casts a spell on its reader, and even away from the book, one can't help but continue to have one foot in Morgenstern's world--at least that's the way it was for me.  Erin Mogenstern's novel, Night Circus, has earned a place on my favorite books of all time list.

Rating: * (Outstanding)

You can learn more about Erin Morgenstern and her book on the author's website.  And for more information about Jim Dale, check out his website on his website.

Source: My husband purchased an audio copy of this book for my personal pleasure.  Isn't he the best?

© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

34 comments:

  1. Yep, it sure did cast a spell. I loved the imagery that she created.

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  2. This book is on my list! It sounds great, and I love the cover.

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    1. A.M.B - I do hope you'll read it! I'd love the hear your thoughts on it.

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  3. I enjoyed but not near as much as you did. I was disappointed in the way it all ended.

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    1. Staci - Now I'm dying to know what you didn't like about the ending! I'll e-mail you.

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  4. I have an autographed copy from the author on my shelves at home and can't wait to read it. What have I been waiting for???

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    1. Kathleen - Ooo! Lucky! You really do need to read it though. :-) (Although I have a couple of books I can say the same for--sitting there on my shelf, autographed and all...)

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  5. This was one of my favorite books of last year,and I am so glad that you and I both had the same opinion on it. It's really a great and very picturesque novel, and I felt so strongly for the characters. The scenery was amazingly detailed, and very highly conceptualized. Fantastic review today. I want to read this one again!

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    1. Heather - I just wish I was better able to put into words what I loved about this book. I almost didn't read (well, listen) to it. My husband saw it on my audio wish list while I considered whether I wanted to read it or not. He decided to get it for me.

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  6. Loved this one and have to agree that the love story worked very well. I think the way the reader gleans from the start that Marco and Celia are going to face pressure and problems makes them likeable, you never wonder whether they're good or not, they always are. I'd recommend the hardback if you're thinking of buying a paper copy, it's absolutely beautiful.

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    1. Charlie - Very true! It was impossible not to like and empathize with them right from the start based on how the story was set up. I did wonder at one point when they'd actually meet though! LOL

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  7. I LOVED the Night Circus. This is one of my faveorite books I have read this year.

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  8. A book that I've heard lots about. It seems to have so many different covers.

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    1. Petty Witter - Does it? I will have to go look! I've only seen the one.

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  9. I am glad you really liked this book. I loved it!

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  10. I looooved this book :) It was absolute magic! (Loved Strange and Norrell too!)

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    1. Jennifer - I like that description, "absolute magic"! So true.

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  11. You've reminded me that I need to read Strange and Norrell!! It's been on my shelf for YEARS (since the initial blogger buzz).

    I'm so glad you enjoyed this one and I agree that the imagery is quite rich--I'm grateful that I read this one. I've actually heard mixed things about the audio--even though I've heard Jim Dale is a fantastic narrator--so I'm glad it worked for you!

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    1. Trish - My husband counts Clarke's book as one of his all time favorites. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell really is a good book. I know quite a few people were put off by its length though.

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  12. I've been wanting to read this one, but I've been sort of on the fence about it. Your enthusiastic recommendation makes me definitely want to get to it!

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    1. Amy - It is so good! I wasn't sure I wanted to read it after all the hype, but am glad I took a chance on it.

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  13. I loved this book, too! So much so that I wanted to re-read it right away, the descriptions were that good.

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    1. Anna - I hope to actually read the written version soonish. Maybe early next year.

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  14. Wow! A favorite of all time? I have this one on my shelf and apparently I am missing out. It's really the size that's scaring me off right now. Have a great Thanksgiving.

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    1. Stacy - Is it a big book? I never noticed when I was listening to it. I really do need to get myself a paper copy!

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  15. I really fell into this one and loved it, too. It's so out of my usual read but maybe I liked it because it, as you say, has that fairy tale feel to it.

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    1. Lisa - I think the fairy tale aspect is what really drew me in.

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  16. I've been meaning to read this book ever since it came out! Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Wendy! :)

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    1. Melody - Do read it! Hurry so we can talk about it!

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  17. I really need to read this. I have it on mt tbr but just never quite get there.

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