The Night Circus: Part 1

Happy Friday, Bookies!

As a long, rainy week here in New York City comes to a close, I’m happy to report that The Night Circus has been a bit of a bright spot for me. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am, and are ready to dive in to a little discussion.

The novel opens with a quote from Oscar Wilde: “A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” This quote intrigued me not only because I am a huge fan of Oscar Wilde, but also because I couldn’t help but see it as an immediate use of foreshadowing. Though the circus may be magical, we already know Marco and Celia will be entangled in both a duel and a passionate love affair. Will the collision of both worlds be their demise or will they manage to overcome their fates as opponents? What significance, if any, do you think this quote holds?

As the story continues, we are introduced to Hector/Prospero and Celia as well as Alexander and Marco. Though Hector and Alexander nurture Celia and Marco, respectively, to become great magicians, there seems to be an absence of love. Celia and Marco are to be used as challengers in some sort of duel, and their childhoods consist mostly of studying and limited person-to-person interaction. I can’t help but wonder if this will lead them to crave the love and acceptance of something familiar. How do you think the mentor/mentee relationship (or lack thereof) will affect the development of Celia and Marco as characters?

In between bits about the two magicians, we’re sprung years in to the future and introduced to a boy named Bailey. Bailey attends the circus as a youngster and is nothing short of enchanted by the wonder of it all. At one point, he sneaks into the circus during the day and has a short interaction with a red-haired girl who gives her his glove as “proof” that he was there, but warns him to stay away during the daytime hours. When the circus vanishes as quickly as it arrived, Bailey yearns for its return. I’m certain that Bailey must have an important role in the story, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet. He doesn’t appear to have any magical abilities, but could he be part of a love triangle that involves the red-haired girl? Or does he simply provide an audience member’s prospective? What kind of role do you anticipate Bailey will play as the story develops?

Time moves quickly during Part 1 of the novel and, suddenly, Marco has grown up and meets a girl named Isobel when she discovers a notebook of spells that he lost. When it becomes clear that she is into magic too, I thought Celia had given Marco a false name and the two had unknowingly crossed paths before “their time.” Did you have the same reaction to Marco and Isobel’s introduction? Were you disappointed when the woman wasn’t Celia?

Shortly after, we meet Chandresh—a mysterious man who holds elaborate midnight dinner parties with carefully selected elite (which includes Marco) to plan a circus of dreams.

In the meantime, Hector’s death is announced, yet we see Celia approach him after she opens a letter in his name that says “Your move.” Why do you think Hector’s death was announced if he seems to still be alive?

Following the letter, Celia auditions for the circus, and after a jaw-dropping performance, Chandresh selects her as the circus’s magician. While watching Celia, Marco comes to a startling realization: Celia is his opponent, and the circus must be the venue for their duel. I thought Marco’s frenzied reaction was interesting, because it seemed like he was intimidated and thought Celia had the upper hand talent-wise. Were you surprised by Marco’s reaction to Celia’s audition? Do you think he was intimidated or simply surprised that the duel was actually coming to fruition?

Just before Part 1 ends, Marco tells Isobel he knows who his opponent is. Though Isobel is supposed to leave once the circus begins, she suggests auditioning to be the circus’s spiritual medium so she can help Marco during the duel. Knowing that Marco and Celia develop a relationship, this left me wondering what kind of love triangle will ensue between Marco, Isobel, and Celia. Do you think Marco will be torn between a safe relationship with Isobel and the passion of an affair with his opponent?

With all the questions swirling in my head, I feel like I could go on for hours! Instead, I want to hear what you all think about The Night Circus thus far. I’m looking forward to our discussion.

We’ll touch base again next Friday, May 11. Enjoy Part 2!