Yes, I am alive!
I’ve been busy rebuilding furniture in my apartment, getting a couch picked out and delivered and finding my way around Tallahassee without my GPS more and more. I love my new city as I get to know it more and more. I’ve also had my sister to visit twice and my parents arrive next week. I think that is the most I have seen family in the last three years so definitely a bonus to the new location!
As it may not surprise all of you, one of the first places I checked out was the public library, both the main branch and my local branch. I frequent the main branch the most because I literally drive by it every day going to and from work and also, it’s just a great building. My one gripe with it is how they have their paperbacks set up, on spinning displays that mean it often takes me a lot longer to find my guilty read of the week in the romance section than it should. Still, I like the airiness of the building and how it’s always teeming with people – families, students, people reading in various corners that you stumble upon at the end of the rows. For such a modern building, it’s cozy. My branch library is also always packed but less…welcoming in a way. I mostly stop in there to return books or pick up books I had sent there. If I want to browse, the main library is the place for me.
But I did not start this to review the Leon County Library system, though I have found it fabulous so far, I started it to notify everyone that must immediately drop what they are doing and read Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. This goes double for those of you who love fairy tales, read magical realism constantly and mostly wish they could live in a wondrous fictional world. The Night Circus is the place for you. This book got a lot of hype and book clubs have waxed poetic over it and normally that means I steer clear of that book for awhile but this one just sounded too much like a book I HAD to read, a book that was so up my alley it probably already had its own address there before I ever read it.
Celia and Marco have been playing a game most of their lives, preparing and waiting for the venue for the game to be announced. Finally, Le Cirque des Rêves opens and their lives will never be the same again. Both are talented illusionists, able to change the world we move in through the most fantastic of the circus’s tents. There is the Ice Garden, where everything is made of ice, the Labyrinth where doors lead into fantastical landscapes and the Wishing Tree where your wish is lit by the person’s wish before you. However, this game has consequences and as time goes on, the way it must end will not work for these star-crossed lovers or for those who call the Circus home. It is time to change how the game is played.
So, I want to crawl into this book and never come out. It is almost torture to know I can’t visit the Circus! And, I think it is the smells Morgenstern is careful to waft through her writing that make me long for it the most. I remember one of the first short stories I ever wrote for a class, my dad read it and handed back to me and said, “you’re missing smells.” And he was right, a smell is a memory and we associate smells with so much more than just the object that creates it. A smell immediately draws a reader into the world they are reading about. Morgenstern’s book is autumnal; caramel apples and popcorn, crisp cool nights where bonfire smoke drifts through the sky and hot cocoa warms your hands are the smells of the Circus and you are there now, aren’t you? There is magic in nights like that and the smells of the Circus are key to its inhabitants. When the smell is not right, that is when you know something has gone very wrong.
I love all the characters in this book, even the ones I am not supposed to like. Celia is ethereal and yet as strong as steel, a dreamer who finds herself trapped in a game. Marco is more practical, a student who plays the game for her always. There are the twins, born the opening night of the Circus and affected by its magic in unforeseen ways. Hector, Celia’s despicable father who gets his just desserts in the end I think and yet I enjoy his oily appearances to torture his daughter, and Lafevre, the owner of the Circus who comes to be imprisoned by his own creation. They are tragic and yet wonderful and you are pulling for a happy ending so hard that you can’t read the text fast enough, hoping that Morgenstern is cleverer than you, that she has figured out a way to save this world she created from breaking apart though you yourself can’t see the way.
Needless to say, this book has made it onto my to-buy list, a feat few books do these days. My shelf space is precious but this book has more than earned its spot. As fall comes, and I have a feeling it will be a very odd fall for me (palm fronds don’t exactly turn red, orange and yellow and then fall off), I will pull this book out and wrap myself in its crisp autumn nights with bonfires and caramel popcorn and hot cocoa and visit the Circus once more.