Wednesday Book Review: The Night Circus, Etc.

Is it possible to have a case of The Monday’s…on Wednesday? If so, I totally have them. Which is why this edition of Book Review Wednesday is coming to you rather later than I would have prefered. But it is here, and that’s all that counts in the end, right? So let’s get to it…

The Night Circus.

Go. Get. It. NOW.

Now! I mean it! If you are a fan of magical realism, or any fiction at all, or just plain books, read this book. If you read no other hint of fiction this year, read this book! If you don’t swoon, I will pay you back tell you how sorry I am. And then secretly wonder if you have no soul. Seriously, it’s that good. I feel like I’m qualified to make this judgement because a: I half-majored in English, and b: I read more fiction that your average bear. I’ve read some bad fiction (Did anyone else suffer needlessly through Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book? No? Lucky you. Don’t let the pretty cover fool you. That’s five hours of my life I can never get back.), I’ve read some good fiction, I’ve read some superb fiction, and it’s my expert opinion that The Night Circus belongs in the superb category.

This nomadic circus creeps into town, always at night and always without warning. Like something out of a dreamscape it’s sprawling tents of black and white stripes are discovered by the towns people the next morning, but they cannot be explored until sun down when it’s wrought iron gates creek open and the magic begins. There are forests made of ice and mazes constructed of cloud. An illusionist, a contortionist, and a tiny tent where you can smell stories, the best caramel apples you can imagine, a wishing tree clothed in candles instead of leaves, and so, so much more awaits you inside. But do not be fooled. This is no mere circus, and nothing is as it seems.

The illusionist, Celia, is locked in a magical battle of wits and endurance with an unknown opponent. The circus is but the stage, a place for them to display their skill. As time wears on, five years, then a decade, Celia discovers her opponent is Marco, the handsome assistant to the circus’ creator. In him she finds not only her opponent but the love of her life. Unbeknownst to the lovers, this is not a game where there is a winner and a loser. This challenge will last until one of them is left standing and one of them dies. As the game wears on and the stakes get higher, Celia and Marco will have to risk everything and use every ounce of their ingenuity, not only to survive and be together outside of the confounds of the challenge to which they are both irrevocably bound, but to save the lives of all connected to this amazing circus of dreams.

I am confident that the monochromatic world Erin Morgenstern creates in le cirque des rêves will captivate you as it did myself and countless other readers. (Though the book has only been on book store shelves for a week, the pre-release buzz was huge. Movie rights have already been bought, and countless reviewers have raved. It is a lot of hype, but it is all, in my opinion, well deserved.) Hemmingway this is not. Morgenstern crams the book full of images and near-sensory experiences that manage to draw the reader in without overwhelming. Not since The Time Traveler’s Wife have I been so enthralled.  I have read 36 books so far this year, and this one may very well be my favorite.

I also finished Sam Wasson’s Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. It detail’s Audrey Hepburn’s break into acting and the  journey of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s from classic book to iconic movie. It was pithy and quick paced; I found myself easily digesting facts that I would otherwise have found uninteresting, but Wasson dispenses them in such a way that you find yourself fascinated. Suddenly, I cared that Capote collected both paper weights and rich, dissatisfied women, who knew?! Any Audrey fan or movie buff should enjoy this slick, witty little opus.

And this is what I’ll be working through over the next two weeks or so:

Floors by Patrick Carman; The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin; Tolstoy and the Purple Chair and Nina Sankovitch

It’s ambitious, and I won’t have much free time, but I’m sure I’ll make it work. Even if it means I have to hide out in the bathroom late at night to read. (I hide out in the bathroom because we live in a studio apartment right now, so the bathroom is the only other place to go besides the kitchenbedroomlivingroom. )

Anyway, what have you been reading lately? What should I be checking out? Anything you’d like me to read and weigh in on? Let me know.

‘Til next week, happy reading my friends!



Filed under Book Reviews, Books

2 responses to “Wednesday Book Review: The Night Circus, Etc.

  1. Pingback: My 12 Favorite Books of 2011 | Lovely Little Things

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