The Night Circus

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 :)

 Table Details:

Vintage Clock Plates & Napkin Rings/ Pottery Barn

Tablecloth (2 Throws)/ HomeGoods

Silver Tray/ from retail days

Dinner Plates & Chargers/ HomeGoods

Flatware/ Horchow

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 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!

“There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound.”

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

Food for Thought~

Table Top Tuesday~

Tablescape Thursday~

 Foodie Friday~

 Seasonal Sundays~

  52 comments for “The Night Circus

  1. January 20, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Wow! I’ve been resisting reading this one, as it just sounded odd, but your review has convinced me I’d enjoy it! I would love to win the audio version, so please add me to the pool. I’ve just finished The Housekeeper and the Professor and loved it. Baseball, Japan, and math don’t sound like they’d make for a good read, but it’s wonderful!

  2. January 20, 2012 at 8:15 am

    I am a Reveur, and I am wearing my red scarf…..I would love to attend your midnight dinner party! Oh, my! How I love this post!!! :D Morgenstern’s book is genius, and so is your table scape. I love all the black and white, and the clocks. You captured the mood of the book perfectly! Thanks so much for this lovely, lovely post. I have bookmarked it for my daughter to see because she loved The Night Circus, too!

  3. shirleysms
    January 20, 2012 at 9:03 am

    If there was a “Hall of Fame” of blog posts, this has definitely go to be in it! Awesome, awesome. I felt as if you were the spellbinding narrator of the book with the added rewards of beautiful images!. A standing ovation!

  4. January 20, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Fabulous review of The Night Circus, Mary.
    I love your clock themed table scape and they way you quoted paragraphs from the book to set the scene.
    I think that you probably enjoyed the book more than I have (so far).
    Who knows by the time I reach The End I’ll be a huge fan too?
    No need to enter me into the giveaway I’d much prefer someone who hasn’t yet read the book to win.

  5. January 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Amazing post!!

  6. January 20, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Amazing! Happy Blogaversary!!!!! (And many more!) I have the book to read.

  7. January 20, 2012 at 10:09 am

    You and Jain will be a formidable team:)Bravo! Here’s to both of your hard work.

  8. January 20, 2012 at 10:31 am

    How do you always have just the right things for amazing tables! Either you have incredible collections or your eye is always on the lookout. In either case, you do it right. I’m reading the Steve Jobs book at the moment. Now, that would make for an interesting table!

  9. Peggy Crawford
    January 20, 2012 at 11:47 am

    What a lovely post! I am so happy to have found your blog. I would love to receive this audio book! Right now, I am reading Bill Bryson’s At Home, A Short History of Private Life. Thank you for gifting us with your talented array!

  10. January 20, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I recently finished reading “The Night Circus,” but I would LOVE to re-visit that magical place by listening to the story. Thanks so much for the chance to win the audio version. Currently, I am reading Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Mermaid Chair,” which is a bit of a disappointment after her “Secret Life Of Bees.” While the storytelling is good, I simply can’t relate to the characters. On the other, “The Night Circus” will surely end up on my Top Ten Books of 2012 list. :)

    Your photos are a league of their own — wonderful! You have outdone yourself — kudos to you!

    Greetings from Germany,

  11. January 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Ah, you have spellbinded me with your combination of tablescape and excerpts from The Night Circus. That book is amazing in its imagery and you have perfectly captured the heart of the midnight dinner. Loved it.

  12. Linda Waterworth
    January 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Wow! What a wonderful blog! I just signed up Tuesday to follow “Home Is Where the Boat Is” and I am enchanted.
    I am reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time belive it or not. I kept seeing all these books with titles and references to Miss Bennet and Mr Darcy that I thought I had better get on board (no pun intended!).
    I love tablescapes and am so inspired I am going home after work and setting mine….with something beautiful.
    Will be reading “The Night Circus” whether I win or not!
    Thank you

  13. January 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Such a great job Mary! Love the midnight munches, I pondered that too, her prose was so magical, but I need to fast this year… Your little 2 ouncers are adorable, but I would eat 20 ounces before I filled one! I love that this jumped out for you, I went with the whole black and white ethereal feel rather than one scene, by the time I knew I was using black and white film I knew I couldn’t shoot a single pic… But if I had the skills I wanted the caramel corn dipped in chocolate! You know I am sitting beachside in a storm on a cell phone so this will be brief, I loved your dinner party and can’t wait to see what chocolate brings us next!

  14. January 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Funny you should ask,….I am (finally) reading “Gone with a Handsomer Man” by Michael Lee West…I’ve had it on my To Read list since your charming review last year!

    As always, a beautiful table, Mary…

  15. January 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Beautiful table, Mary! I am in love with your vintage clock plates and napkin rings! What a cute idea to make those mini treats. I have the same glasses that I’ve used for soup appetizers.

    The book sounds very interesting!

  16. January 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    First of all, THANK YOU for making it so easy to enter your giveaway. The ones that make you jump through hoops and leave 6,7 8 comments drive me crazy! Would LOVE to read/hear this book, you make it sound fasinating!!!!! LOVE the parfaits too, did you get the glasses at Pier One? The clock plates are fabulous. I am thinking you must have a dish ROOM:):) Happy Blogaversary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XO, Pinky

  17. January 20, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    OMG, I am so sorry, I forgot to tell you what I am reading!!!!! After complaining about leaving multiple comments, LOL! I am reading Conversations With God. It was a gift from my son for Christmas. Room is next. XO, P

  18. January 21, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I have been following your blog for over a year and always look forward to visiting it as you seem so warm and welcoming and have such beautful imagery! Your post for The Night Circus makes me want to jump right in and enjoy both the book (have it on request from the library), and the wonderful treats! I have currently fallen into “A Year with Eleanor” so far it is very entertaining and uplifting. I was surprised and delighted to see it listed. I just picked up Chocolate Chocolate, can’t wait to start on that – as I am a certified chocoholic! Wanted to let you know that I am looking forward to reading along with both you and Jain.
    Warm Regards,

  19. January 21, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Mary, I knew this would be special. Love the clocks and plates, but the mini treats are calling to me for a late night snack. ;-)
    I’m on a waiting list for the audio version of this book. ~ Sarah

  20. January 21, 2012 at 2:34 am

    Oh, I’m currently reading Coastliners, but my copy of Chocolate, Chocolate just arrived. ;-)

  21. January 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I got so carried away with your gorgeous table inspired by The Night Circus, I forgot to tell you what I am currently reading:

    Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

  22. afoodie
    January 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    The complete works of Sherlock Holmes. Almost done. Has taken 3 months, because the print is so small. You’ve created another masterpiece. This is definately one of your best (although I seem to say that often!) I can’t get over your “props” and your creativity. Do you and your husband live in one house and your beautiful stuff in another??? Gorgeous!

  23. January 21, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Great table. Wonderful spirit.

    Wonderful to have you be a part of Seasonal Sundays.

    – The Tablescaper

  24. January 22, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Oooooo….I just got goose-bumps, while reading your vivid descriptions, Mary! Soooo beautifully worded & then to see the dinner depicted like this…WOW! You are SO good at this, Honey!
    I pinned your parfaits….hope you don’t mind.
    Thanks for a chance to win the audio version of this book. It looks & sounds delicious!
    I’m reading Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D.James – a quick, fun read then next is Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff and after that its The Budda in the Attic by Julie Otsuka.

  25. January 22, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Such a fabulous table, Mary! I love everything…your plate stack, napkin rings, tray and the clocks!! Amazing. Love the dessert in those glasses. Truly wonderful as always!!

  26. January 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    The book sounds very captivating, Mary. Of course, I’d love the chance to win!! I just finished reading “Into the Wilderness”, by Sara Donati & am about to start “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo”. p.s. I loved your table & especially the portion-control dessert!!!

  27. January 22, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    just came back for MORE! i am home and can finally see life size pics :) i love your tray, how perfect is that! so fun to relive the book thru your table and FOOD! yehaw girl, glad to be home was a wild week away, looking for to some quiet reading time now~

  28. January 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Your table is fantastic! Those clock plates make me swoon. I know I can’t have everything, but I really, really want it! ;-)

    The book sounds so interesting. I’m moving house at the moment, with no time to read, so this book will have to go on my list.

  29. January 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    You are amazing! I love this!!

  30. January 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Your tablescapes are soooo beautiful. Every one is better than the last! I have just recently finished Edward Rutherford’s New York, and now starting Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. Would love the chance to win the audiobook.. thanks

  31. January 24, 2012 at 3:53 am

    Lovely post! Fantastic write up and beautiful pictures.
    Hope to see you on my blog:)


  32. January 24, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Unreal. I don’t know where in the world you find such wonderful dishes, the clocks are fabulous. I love it all. Such a really beautiful tablescape. Thanks so much for joining TTT. I am amazed. Hugs, Marty

  33. January 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I love your edible reviews. Your time inspired tablescape is so fun. I love it. Could you please email a copy of the reading schedule so I could join the fun? Thank you. Heather

  34. Kathy t
    January 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Your post is magical. Wow , I would love share a meal at your table. I am currently reading The Hunger Games -We have two teen age sons reading the trilogy so i thought i should get into the swing of things :-) I would love to win this audio version to play in my car on the commute to work.

  35. January 26, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I am also glad you “took the time” to create this innovative tablescape! The napkin rings are a really great idea as a part of a timepiece! This is such a “timelessly” beautifull table with so many interesting details. I love the dishes!!!!!!!!!!!! The throws could not be more perfect as the foundation for this setting! Bravo!

  36. January 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing your amazing talent. I am in awe at your table and writings….you are WOW!!! I have not read or heard of the book and would love to win the audio! I am currently into Lori Wicks. When living in Texas, I found a 1/2 price book store and they sold used books for $1.00. So, I took at advange of my good fortune and bought a bunch for my move. I am currently reading “Who brings Forth the Wind”. The price was right and the stories are good.
    Blessings My friend,

  37. Karen Ann
    January 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    What a spectacular post! Wow it was wonderful! The tablescape was equally Impressive!! Loved the clocks and the clock plates, well actually loved it all. I came over from Between Naps on the Porch and so glad I did. Would love to have this book (audio) as will soon finish New Moon so that I can have wonderful conversations with my Granddaughter about vampires and such.

  38. shirley@housepitalitydesigns
    January 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Oh, I also forgot to share what I am currently reading…”The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

  39. Carol in Bama
    January 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    How wonderful your tablescape and write up is! I am currently re-reading “The Drums of Autumn” by Dianna Gabaldon – the second in her Outlander series. I would love to win this book on audio! Thanks so much for the opportunity.

  40. January 26, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Love the clocks and plates.. Your creativity has me wanting to read this book. Love this entire post.. amazing.. xo marlis

  41. January 27, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Just got the book! Now I need to get reading. Of course your table is pure magic! Who wouldn’t want to read it with your creativity and your descriptions! What beautiful plates and clocks. I would love to join you at this table to discuss the book!!! Have a fabulous weekend.

  42. January 27, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Right now I’m reading Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. I have read two of his other books and thought I might like this one as well. I think those clock plates are fabulous!! I am always in awe of all the work you put into your creative tables and posts. Now I want to read this book!

  43. January 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Wonderful visual book review. The table elements are perfection. I’m currently reading KILLING LINCOLN. Thank you for inviting us for a peak. Cherry Kay

  44. Debbie@Mountain Breaths
    January 28, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Beautiful table, Mary! You found some neat vintage clock plates and napkin rings! I have the same glasses, so I might have to make some mini treats ;o)

  45. Donna W
    February 5, 2012 at 2:23 am

    This post is “spellbinding!” I feel as if I’ve been drawn into a secret world. I will be adding some new books to my reading list (thanks to you all). I have just finished “The Violets of March” by Sarah Jio.

  46. February 9, 2012 at 8:42 am

    This is a beautiful tablescape,I absolutely fell in love with the clocks and clock plates,I have to try and find those plates.I cant wait to read or listen to this book,I am smitten by this.Please enter me,I am so happy that I found your blog,I will be following.

  47. February 9, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I just wanted to put on my red reveur scarf and visit this lovely post again this morning. :D *love* it!

    Ricki Jill

  48. susanbetweennapsontheporch
    July 12, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Oh, I love this! Absolutely wonderful! Those desserts look sooo yummy! Love the clock plates! I’ve been looking for those. Saw some on eBay several months ago but alas, went beyond what I could bid. Still watching for more though…one day. :)

  49. Aesha
    August 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I just finished this book not two weeks ago and it has me trying in earnest to incorporate the mystery and fun into my wedding. Your tablescape is to-die-for and so is your review. The clock plates are torturing me because I haven’t been able to find them myself.

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