The Night Circus ****.*
by Erin Morgenstern
I’m joining Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.”
“But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.”
“True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.”
I loved this book!
I was spellbound from the opening paragraph and from the moment the gates opened admitting entrance to Le Cirque des Rêves! Full of fantasy & magic, I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat~ a fascinated spectator~ waiting in wonder of what act would unfold next. Dueling illusionists, unusual clocks, vanishing rings, ice gardens, wishing trees, flaming cauldrons and fantastic carousels~ I was captivated by the vivid details! I’m a huge fan of audio books, especially when the narrator is one of my favorites, so the icing on the cake~ or caramel on the apple in this case~ for me, was listening to Jim Dale (known for his spellbinding narration of the Harry Potter series).
His rendition and audio performance made this tale truly magical as well as memorable!
I took the time :) to set a table as part of this edible review~ inspired by the mention of Midnight Dinners.
The clocks are all set:
“Always precisely at midnight, at the moment the grandfather clock in the foyer begins to chime, the first plates are placed on the table.”
“The towering tents are striped in white and black, no golds and crimsons to be seen. No color at all, save for the neighboring trees and the grass of the surrounding fields. Black-and-white stripes on grey sky; countless tents of varying shapes and sizes, with an elaborate wrought-iron fence encasing them in a colorless world. Even what little ground is visible from outside is black or white, painted or powdered, or treated with some other circus trick.”
“Then the iron gates shudder and unlock, seemingly by their own volition. They swing outward, inviting the crowd inside. Now the circus is open. Now you may enter.”
“The whole of Le Cirque des Rêves is formed by series of circles. Perhaps it is a tribute to the origin of the word ‘circus,’ deriving from the Greek kirkos meaning circle, or ring. There are many such nods to the phenomenon of the circus in the historical sense, though it is hardly a traditional circus. Rather than a single tent with rings enclosed within, this circus contains clusters of tents like pyramids, some large and others quite small. They are set within circular paths, contained within a circular fence. Looping and continuous.”
“You step into a bright, open courtyard surrounded by striped tents. Curving pathways along the perimeter lead away from the courtyard, turning into unseen mysteries dotted with twinkling lights. There are vendors traversing the crowd around you, selling refreshments and oddities, creations flavored with vanilla and honey, chocolate and cinnamon.”
“Midnight Dinners are a tradition at la maison Lefevre.”
“At dinner, which begins promptly at midnight, each course is styled in black or white but bursts with color once pierced with forks or spoons, revealing layer upon layer of flavors.”
“… it begins to tick, the pendulum swinging steadily and evenly. Then, it becomes something else.”
“Meanwhile, bits of the body of the clock expand and contract, like pieces of a puzzle.”
“After midnight the clock begins once more to fold in upon itself.”
“But the Midnight Dinners have an air of nocturnal mystery already, and Chandresh finds that providing no menu, no map of the culinary route, adds to the experience. Dish after dish is brought to the table, some easily identifiable as quail or rabbit or lamb, served on banana leaves or baked in apples or garnished with brandy-soaked cherries. Other courses are more enigmatic, concealed in sweet sauces or spiced soups; unidentifiable meats hidden in pastries and glazes.”
“Should a diner inquire as to the nature of a particular dish, question of the origin of a bite or a seasoning, a flavor she cannot put her finger on (for even those with the most refined of palates can never identify each and every flavor), she will not be met with a satisfying answer.”
“Chandresh will remark that ‘the recipes belong to the chefs themselves and I am not one to deny them their privacy.’ The curious guest will return to the mysterious plate in front of her, perhaps remarking that, whatever the secrets, the dish is quite impressive, and continuing to wonder where the peculiar flavor might originate as she savors each bite with profound thoughtfulness.”
“In truth, Chandresh prefers not to know all the ingredients, not to understand each technique. He claims such ignorance gives each dish life, makes it more than the sum of its parts. ‘Ah,’ remarked one guest when the topic arose. ‘You prefer not to see the gears of the clock, as to better tell the time.’ “
As deliciously detailed as The Night Circus is, Food for Thought was as abundant as the circus tents… jam & clotted cream on scones… layers of pastry with cinnamon & sugar… cocoa with clouds of extra whipped cream …caramel popcorn & apples…tiered cakes layered to impossible heights… berries bursting with creams and liqueurs…figs dripping with honey…sugar blown into curls & flowers…
I opted for an illusionist’s trick for Food for Thought, with an eye on calorie consumption & portion control~ satisfying my sweet tooth with a “confection deliciously executed in chocolate and butterscotch…” in the form of a mini parfait :)
1 chocolate cupcake, 2 butterscotch pudding cups, 2 slices of angel food cake, 4 squeezes of Chocolate Amazing Glazes, 8 dollops of whipped cream, a sprinkling of toffee chips, and a few chocolate curls. . .
Layered & magically transformed into eight parfaits which manage to tickle the tastebuds but not pack on the pounds with their 2 1/2 oz. serving size :)
Vintage Clock Plates & Napkin Rings/ Pottery Barn
Tablecloth (2 Throws)/ HomeGoods
Silver Tray/ from retail days
Dinner Plates & Chargers/ HomeGoods
Small beaded Parfait Spoons/ Wild Eye Designs- HomeGoods
Goblets/ Mikasa French Countryside
Napkins/ Pier 1
Clocks/ TimeWorks from retail days
In celebration of my 2 year blogging anniversary, I’m sharing some book love and giving away the audio version of The Night Circus from Audible.com to one winner!
”Dale makes palpable the sights and smells of the mysterious night circus, guiding us with his familiar voice and ensuring we never miss a fantastical detail.” ~AudioFile
For a chance to win, leave a comment telling me what you are reading now!
A winner will be selected February 6th.
This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Cheryl!