Chrys’s book review continued from last week, when she gave a glowing review to The Song of Achilles.
I don’t know how to do this book justice! It is a truly magical, enchanting book. Now I know why Audrey Niffenegger cited it as one of her favourite books, and an influence, when she spoke at the Edinburgh Book Festival last year (that’s when & why I decided to read it).
Set at the close of the 19th/start of the 20th century, two gentlemen begin a contest – they each choose a child to train and pit against each other, but this is no ordinary contest, each child has magical powers and grows to be adept in illusion and magic. Oh, but it’s so much more than that. As the story develops and all the other characters are introduced, it becomes a mix of magic and spectacle, a contest, a love story. You grow to love all the characters and wish for happy endings for them and wonder how it can possibly be drawn together without there being some level of sadness and loss. The circus itself is beautifully described and I longed to be able to visit it. Every description drew me in, from the various tents and spectacles to the clothes and costumes… I want to be a Reveur (dreamer) and dress in monochrome, masked, with just a touch of scarlet! No wonder The Reading Agency are suggesting book groups hold themed parties and are running a competition to win party packs. (Of course, our Book Group organiser, Kim Miller, is spookily good at winning competitions, so we are now in receipt of one of these party packs: books, black & white balloons, black & white sweeties etc. Fantastic!)
I know this sounds corny, but it really is an spellbinding book. One of the rare ones that I shall keep and read again. Oh & I bought a hardback copy (from a charity shop) and I’m glad I did as it is beautifully detailed and illustrated and I suspect the paperback would be less so & also missing the red ribbon bookmark: the symbol of the Reveurs.
To finish off, I’ll steal the blurb from the book:
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:
Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn
As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.
Le Cirque des Rêves
The Circus of Dreams.
Now the circus is open.
Now you may enter.”
SQA book group won a Night Circus themed party pack from The Reading Agency containing copies of the book, balloons, recipe cards and black & white sweets. Remember to keep an eye on the website for more offers.