Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Night Circus

Hi everyone! I'm hoping there will be some visitors here participating in Julie Fagan's PB Fingers book review link up, so thanks for stopping by! I'm excited to read all the other reviews, too!

My friend Jesse recommended this book to me, and, as always, he was right on target. Here's a little history of Jesse's recommendations:
  • "Julie, you would love Harry Potter. Just read the books." "No, I'm not into fantasy stuff." Fast forward to a few months later, when I had read all the books, seen all the movies, and had a huge crush on Ronald Weasley. 
  • "Julie, you should check out How I Met Your Mother. It's hilarious." "I don't know, I already love so many shows." Now we own all the seasons, quote the show daily - at least - and used the theme song in our wedding.
  • "Hey Julie, you and Terry would make a totally cute couple." "Yeah, right, I'm not really interested in dating anyone right now." Fast forward to about a week later, when Terry and I fell head over heels. Five years later, Jesse was a groomsman in our wedding.
Terry and Jesse at our wedding. Look at those stud muffins!
So when Jesse suggested The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, I didn't argue or give an excuse. He knows me too well. And when Julie posted a book review link up opportunity (Julie's blog, Peanut Butter Fingers, hosts a virtual book club every month!), I figured it must be fate. And so I downloaded the novel and got to it.

The Night Circus is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I cannot compliment the writing style enough. The author's descriptions of the circus pulled me in and made me feel as though I was in the tents, experiencing the magic with the other circus-goers. 

The characters in the novel, while fascinating and (for the most part) extremely likable, got me a bit confused for the first half of the book. I kept mixing up their names, but the descriptions often set me straight. I found the characters, especially Poppet and Bailey, to be normal people that perhaps I might befriend. The others intrigued me, each in their own way, but I have to say that my favorite was Herr Thiessen because of his passion for clock-making and for the circus.  

The other aspect of the book that I found confusing was the timing. Each chapter always stated the date, but I still managed to lose track, which I think was the point. In the circus, people lost track of time and of what is reality and what isn't, so the fact that I was lost in the pages simply mirrored the circus experience. The idea of time, either slowing or slipping away, struck me as one of the most prominent motifs in the book; all the clocks certainly called my attention to the time of day or the year.

Questions for those who read The Night Circus:
Feel free to leave your comments below or e-mail me! I'd love to hear your thoughts on any or all of the questions!
  1. We see trees throughout the novel - Bailey's tree from his childhood, Marco's notebook drawings, the Wishing Tree, the story of the wizard. What significance do trees hold, and why do you think they were they chosen as such a prominent symbol?
  2. The colors - or lack of colors - in the novel provide an important backdrop for the circus and the story. What color did you find most significant, and why?
  3. I noticed a lot of references to paper, ink, books, and notes throughout the novel. Why do you think the author chose to use these instruments, and how are they crucial to the different characters in different ways?
  4. I mentioned above that I felt time (the passage of time, aging, clocks ticking, etc.) was especially significant. What did you notice about time, and what did you think of Bailey's contact information at the end?
  5. What did you think of Celia and Marco's fate? What would you have done in their position? [If you read The Hunger Games, did you draw some parallels to Peeta and Katniss?]
  6. Who was your favorite character and why?
I hope you enjoyed this book as much as I did. I hope to read it again to catch all the little nuances I missed the first time around. I highly recommend it and hope to find more works by Erin Morgenstern. Special thanks to Julie for the book club idea (you can check other reviews on her site!), and to Jesse for the original recommendation!


  1. Oh my goodness, I love your questions! The trees caught my attention as well. I think the represent steadiness, strength and longevity, and I suppose those reasons explain why the tree was chosen as a symbol. I felt the paper, ink, books and notes were most significant to Marco's character and I think that is because paper, ink, books & notes were what helped him become part of the challenge. I wish she would have explained more why Alexander chose Marco as his student... There actually were a lot of things I wish she had gone into more depth explaining instead of all the (what I felt were) over-descriptions of the circus itself.

  2. I love your questions too! You have given me some more things to think about. This book just had so much in it!

    I know many people doing like the main characters due to under development but I was really drawn to Celia. She was so caring, especially with Poppet, Widget, Marco, Thiessen, and yet so powerful.