About a year and a half ago my friend Brandi wrote this post about Erin Morgenstern's novel The Night Circus and I thought, "That sounds right up my alley." So, being the early adapter that I am, I finally got around to reading it myself this week. And, WOW. Normally when I am sitting up at 2.43am nursing Madeleine I tend to think along the lines of "Hurry uppppp, I'm sooooooo tired." These last couple of nights I've been thinking "Are you done already? Have a bit more while I finish the chapter." The night circus of the book, Le Cirque des Rêves, translates as "The Circus of Dreams" and it is exactly that. An immersive experience into someone else's dreams. Magic springs from the fingertips of two lovers. In the most beautiful way imaginable. You wander in deliberately disorienting spiral pathways of black and white, entering or bypassing striped, black and white tents as you please, to uncover the secrets within. In this place the magic feels real. Perhaps the magic is real. But don't be afraid: you are safe in the circus.
Likewise the book itself is a step inside a magic place. With storylines and perspectives that twist and turn through time like the spiral pathways in the circus, it's best not to try and straighten it out but, instead, just let the story carry you with it. On the back of my copy, author Audrey Niffenegger is quoted as saying "The Night Circus made me happy." That is exactly how I felt. Happy. Elated. Like some long-forgotten childhood part of me that once believed in magic has woken up, stretched, yawned and smiled.
ps. How do I describe the magnetic pull of this book? It's what I call "the Harry Potter effect." You love Harry and his friends, and you care what happens to them. But there is another character in those books: Hogwarts itself. You love Hogwarts. You care what happens to Hogwarts. You want to live in Hogwarts, even after Harry and Ron and Hermione have all graduated. Know what I mean? Well, the circus is another character in this book. And you will love it. And probably, like me, you will want to run away and live in it too. The end.
Ok not quite the end.
ps2. Dear rêveurs (you know who you are):