January Meetup: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Book club Sundays are absolutely my favorite days.  I look forward to the next one as soon as the current discussion ends.  It’s not just because of the books (even though as a huge book nerd they play a large part) – it’s also because we have the best members of any book club in the whole wide world since the dawn of time, Amen.

Today’s meeting was at my house (hence the cleaning post below) and our January selection was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  I was nervous because I loved this book more than what some would consider a ‘normal’ amount – what if they didn’t like it?  What if they thought my book love was creepy?  But I decided to just be honest and let my freak flag fly – and yes, I do think some members thought I might have taken things a little too far (especially the newer ladies), but I’m not making any apologies.  Y’all should just be thankful we’ve never read any Harry Potter, trust me.

Speaking of new ladies, we had several first time attendees and I hope y’all felt welcome – we can be a bit overwhelming as a group because we get louder and louder as the evening progresses.  We’re also very opinionated without fear of expressing those opinions.  At the same time, we welcome any and all, love hearing what others think even (and maybe even especially) when it differs from our own, and most of us started out strangers at some point so we know how you feel!

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” Oscar Wilde

Ok, on to the discussion.  On a whole, everyone enjoyed (some fell madly, deeply in love) The Night Circus.  Of course, there were a couple of members here and there who weren’t as thrilled primarily because this type of story just wasn’t their cup of tea.  Everyone agreed that this novel is a sensory experience – the midnight dinners, the circus sights and smells, the magical attractions hidden inside each tent, even the heat of the fire jumps straight off the page.  Reading this book is an experience – it feels like something new and exciting.  We are convinced it could make a fantastically enchanting visual experience when it finally comes out in theaters – Summit Entertainment has purchased the movie rights and David Heyman (Harry Potter!) has been in negotiations to produce the film.  We just hope the magic and whimsy isn’t lost in translation.

Some loved Marco and Celia; others loved Bailey, Poppet, and Widget.  We discussed whether the book and the competition had a true villain.  Are Hector and Alexander H. really evil or can their actions be excused or at least understood?  Have they lived for so long that they no longer value life or do they just not believe death is the worst thing that can happen to a person?  I think everyone enjoyed Herr Thiessen the clockmaker – for most he was the most beloved character.  We all felt sort of sorry for Isobel, but others were put off by her clinginess – how many people would essentially give up their life and follow a circus around to be with someone they don’t even actually ever see?  I love when a book’s secondary characters steal the show.

The ending left some members wanting – feeling more like a whimper than a bang.  But Kelly thought the quietness of Marco and Celia’s story went perfectly with the subtle ending.  Several ladies loved the Shakespeare allusions – The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, bits of Hamlet are all interwoven.  And we thoroughly questioned Bailey’s decision to join the Circus – fate or free will, what was the true driving factor of his ‘decision’?  And what about that email address on his card?

Side Note:  When you email Bailey you receive the following auto-response:


Thank you for your interest in Le Cirque des Rêves!

If you are inquiring as to the itinerary of the circus, we apologize,
but it is against our policy to disclose information about current or
upcoming locations.

Other inquiries will be responded to in as timely a manner as possible.



So if you like magic, illusion, quiet love stories, and a sense of place that is undeniable – go read The Night Circus if you haven’t already.  A little disclaimer: the novel isn’t about a high-action competition between two master magicians – in fact, as Jessica so succinctly pointed out, the competition is really only glorified interior decorating – but it’s the best interior decorating book I’ve ever read!

Second Side Note:  Courtney berated me for not having watched Downton Abbey yet.  SHAME!  I promise to watch (and maybe blog) about my experience with the show once it hits my mailbox.

Next month the Litwits are reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach where we finally discover the answer to the age-old question:  Do you really have to love baseball to love a book with baseball in it?