Tag Archives: love

Read: The night circus: a novel by Erin Morgenstern

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Curiosity finally got the better of me, well that and praise for this novel. I have known about it for years, hearing about its start as a NaNoWriMo story that met great success; author Erin Morgenstern even gave a NaNoWriMo pep-talk about her experience along with advice. However, the little that I knew about the premise of The night circus turned me off from reading it, since it reminded me of Something wicked this way comes by Ray Bradbury about a mysterious circus. Recently, I looked up the novel again and decided to give it a try. I’m glad that I did because it truly is a remarkable work, unique all on its own.

The night circus as a title does not do this novel justice. It is so much more, although the Circus of Dreams (Le Cirque des Reves) purports to be just a night circus and most visitors blindly believe that the only difference between this one and others is the fact that it only opens at nightfall and closes at dawn. In reality, the circus is a playing field for two competing magicians to showcase their very best talents with magic until one is declared the winner. Unlike a typical circus, the night circus contains a multitude of tents, each with its own exhibit or performances. Tents filled with frozen gardens, origami animals that move, an ever-changing labyrinth, and a cloud maze, just to name a few. Bound together by the game, Celia and Marco grow then circus by adding on new tents, rooms, and enhancements, trying to out due each other. However, because of this challenge, the circus requires care and attention as if it were alive so there are many people involved who keep it going as well. This twist on the classic circus setting is captivating and Moregenstern pulls it off beautifully, just like a well-practiced slight of hand. 

In stark constrast to The girls, Morgenstern’s sentences are long, lush, and buoyant. The novel itself feels like a fantastical floating dream. The characters and details are so vibrant and extravagant that there is a pervasive richness throughout, adding to the wonder and glamour. It is a relaxing, enchanting, and delightful read.

The novel itself is comprised of dated entries from different characters’ perspective although always in third person. These entries jump from different times and places, moving forward and backward without a clear pattern. This makes for a somewhat disjointed experiences, especially as a few are the same date but a year apart. It’s easy to follow otherwise but the story did jump around quite a bit which gets a little confusing. I love following characters so it’s tough as a reader when I get pulled away to be shown something else before catching back up with the previous character. That being said, I like how Moregenstern reexamines an event or period of time from multiple people, giving a richer experience to the reader by providing more perspectives. While here are two main characters, there is a large cast of supporting ones who the reader comes to care for just as much. I appreciate her letting them speak for themselves and expanding the novel to include many of them as well. 

Recommended?: Yes, definitely. It’s a charming novel that envelopes the reader the way a magician entrances an audience. The story might not be for everyone, with its magical elements and dreamy prose. However, if it sounds intriguing and you want something different, then step right up and enter this circus. 

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Read: Waiting by Ha Jin

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Waiting by Ha Jin is a simple love story, yet love itself is never as simple as it seems. The novel is as a complex as it appears straight-forward and a wonderful tale set in 1980s China.

Lin Kong agreed to an arranged marriage that his parents set up when he was young but the woman that showed up on the wedding day was ragged and wrinkled, not the beauty in the photo that he’d been promised. Feeling obligated and being a good son, he married her anyway. But rural life on a farm is not the life that Lin wants so he leaves to become an army doctor and soon his meets another woman.

Of course, that alone wouldn’t make for a compelling story but the opening lines sure does:

Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife. Together they had appeared at the courthouse in Wujia Town many times, but she has always changed her mind at the last moment when the judge asked is she would accept a divorce.

As a good wife, Shuyu cared for Lin’s dying parents, works hard on the farm earning little, and raising their daughter yet Lin feels no love for Shuyu and so pursues divorce in vain with hope. He doesn’t want to remain married to a woman he doesn’t desire and believes he has no obligation to. His heart belongs to a nurse named Manna but he can only court her as a friend since the army doesn’t along any relationships besides married and engaged couples. Until the divorce is complete, Lin and Manna cannot be together.

There is a rule in the army that after 18 years, a divorce can be granted to one partner in the marriage without the say of the other. However, that means Manna has to wait for Lin since it is obvious to her that Shuyu will never give in. Waiting is difficult and her pursuits of other relationships fail, likely due to her desire to be with Lin no matter what.

18 years pass, the divorce is granted, and life and love is more complicated than ever. The future is not what any of them expected. And the waiting does not end.

The story is heart-breaking and heart-warming, a joy to read. It considers what love is but more importantly, how it affects the people in and around it. These are things that we all should consider… and then tell the ones we love that we love them.

 

Recommended?:  Yes, mostly to adult readers since there are several sex scenes including one that’s brutal. It’s a readable, enjoyable book that will make you consider what love means, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or health.

 

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