Cbr12bingo I wish… Bingo (vertical from Roaring ‘20s)
When I chose to read The Night Circus, I had planned to use it for the “Cannonballer Says” bingo square. It has been a very popular book among Cannonballers since its release in 2011, but as I got pulled into the story, I found that this is definitely an “I wish” book. Who wouldn’t want to visit le Cirque des Reves? The sights, the sounds, the smells and the fantastical exhibitions have drawn fans from around the world both within the novel proper and amongst author Erin Morgenstern’s readers. The Night Circus is a magical love story about the ties that bind not just one individual to another on a personal level but those that bind artists and audiences around the world, throughout time.
The “Night Circus” is a traveling show like no other. Its producer, Chandresh Christophe LeFevre, is known for his lavish and imaginative productions. When he gets his brainstorm for the night circus, he invites an exclusive circle of creators to help him get it going. What Chandresh does not see is that his assistant, the quiet and unassuming Marco, is more than just an able administrator and master of detail. Marco is a magician, trained by Chandresh’s associate A.H., a literal eminence grise who has taught Marco from childhood. While the Night Circus will be Chandresh’s “feast for the senses” and an “immersive entertainment” the likes of which have never before been seen, it will also serve as the arena for a magical showdown between Marco and another magician, Celia Bowen. Celia is a master of illusion, trained by her father Hector Bowen, aka Prospero the Enchanter. Celia and Marco have been bound to each other and this competition from childhood, without knowing or understanding (or even agreeing to) what they have been bound by their guardians to do.
As Marco and Celia work their magic within the circus, what was supposed to be a competition turns into something more like a collaboration; each magician respects and admires the others’ skills, and this admiration turns into love. Their acts of magic make the Night Circus a world-famous and profitable venture, but they also create a new kind of family, a family that comprises the performers, the folks who work behind the scenes to put on the circus, and the fans. I love that Morgenstern creates a group of super-fans who call themselves “reveurs,” spreading the word when the circus shows up in a new town, following the circus whenever they can, sharing their stories and their homes with each other, and wearing red scarves so that they can recognize each other. Old timers welcome newbies into the fold and they all look out for one another.
Celia and Marco’s magic has an effect on everyone involved in the production for better or worse, and there is a downside to their use of magic. Acts of manipulation can be entertaining when performed inside a circus tent but they can be damaging, depending on whether one’s participation in them is given voluntarily. Over the years, Marco’s manipulations in particular have a damaging effect on certain people, and when the true nature of the competition is revealed, many, many lives are at risk.
Ultimately, The Night Circus is a novel about art and creativity, the beauty of collaboration as opposed to competition, the symbiotic relationship between performers and audiences, between audiences and works of art, and the importance of being an “appreciator” whether one has artistic talent or not. Toward the end of the novel, one of the characters gives this encouragement to another who calls himself a storyteller and considers it not something worth noting:
“That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”
The arts link us to one another, to the past and the future. They are magic.