Do you have any books which you put off reading? You just knew you’d probably love them, they sound so wonderful and you’re seeing it in every bookshop (or online but I found today’s book well before I found bookstagram). Everyone loves said book, but what if you’re that one anomaly who doesn’t. What if it doesn’t meet your soaring bookish expectations?
Well that is how I felt about The Night Circus. Even pre-bookstagram this was a book whose hype I could physically feel as I held the book. Not only that but it was weighed down with my own expectations that this was a book I should love. Fortunately having eventually bought a copy in a charity shop I fell completely under the spell of this dazzlingly beautiful novel.
For those of you who have not read The Night Circus it is the story of Le Cirque des Rêves which appears suddenly and without warning, only opening at night and disappearing as suddenly as it arrives.
The circus is enchanting, a unique experience filled with the marvellous and the sublime. A magic world is captured under its black and white striped tents. Little do those visiting know that the circus was born out of an intense and all consuming rivalry between two star crossed lovers. Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors, have no idea they are trapped in a game which will have only one victor.
The beauty of this book lies in the beauty of Erin Morgenstern’s prose which is at once luxurious and entrancing – as a good fantasy should be – and also told with a touch of logic (I saw an article which described it as “matter of factness about the magicians magic”) which, within a finely crafted world, tricks the reader (with magic that Celia and Marco would be proud to take credit for) into thinking they are reading about a real world.
I was lost in the gentle love story and felt as though the Night Circus had actually popped up around me (no mean feat when I was reading in my very first, and very cramped, flat). At a time when many of us are looking for escapism from a world which feels increasingly small this is a book which will happily sweep you up and transport you to a magical world (especially if you have managed to make your way through the Disney back catalogue during lockdown).
Morgenstern’s prose will give you the rich technicolour delight, surprise and whimsy which we all loved so much as children but which sometimes can be missing in our adult lives. This is a book to wrap yourself in – not to analyse, but to enjoy.
So having written all of this I now want to go back and read this marvellous book all over again. I won’t just yet by I do have The Starless Sea to read and my love of the Night Circus has set my expectations as high as the peaks of the circus tents at Le Cirque des Rêves.
Have you read Night Circus? What did you think about it?