Discussion: Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Part 3

This week, Lora, Alex and I muse about how sad we are to leave the circus behind as we chat about the last part of this captivating debut novel by Erin Morgenstern (page 297 to the end).


This week, Lora, Alex and I muse about how sad we are to leave the circus behind as we chat about the last part of this captivating debut novel by Erin Morgenstern (page 297 to the end). Was it the perfect book? No: Alex wanted more complexity in the characters, Lora wanted more of a wrap-up at the end, and I wanted more deep, devilish darkness. But, despite those minor quibbles, we all three agree that The Night Circus was an enthralling read we absolutely loved!

 Lora:  Hello there.

 Alex:  Hi!

 Laurie:  So we have come to the conclusion of The Night Circus — sadly!

 Lora:  I know. I didn’t want it to end! (I’m really excited for the film!)

 Alex:  Me, too!

 Laurie:  Ditto! I loved this world Morgenstern created.

 Alex:  It was very unexpected.

 Laurie:  I was continually kept surprised and enchanted by all the wonders of the circus and the various characters populating it. I wanted to keep visiting it!

 Alex:  It’s true. Although by the end I have to say I was ready for a little more complexity in the characters themselves.

 Lora:  You know, I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t hear more from the gang in the end — Ethan and Tante Padva and everyone. I like my stories to be wrapped up in neat little bows at the end, though, but this book was far too complex for an ending like that.

 Laurie:  I loved the suspense behind not knowing what was going to happen and the way the time frames kept changing and building up to the two worlds — Bailey’s and the circus’s — colliding, that I didn’t miss more complexity in the character. I can’t help but feel that more complexity of character would have meant less complexity of the circus.

 Alex:  I think you’re right. I was super surprised Bailey became such a main figure.

 Laurie:  That did come out of left field, didn’t it?

 Lora:  It’s interesting, isn’t it? That the circus itself is so complex that to add any more would just be overwhelming.

 Alex:  It was just that as I became accustomed to the complexity of the circus and understood it more, I found myself ready for more detail in the characters. I was adjusting to it, I guess, getting acclimatized to the magic, if such a thing is possible.

 Lora:  And I knew Bailey would become more central, but I didn’t expect him to become so tangled up in Marco and Celia’s game.

 Laurie:  I suppose sometimes, we know characters in novels the way we know people in real life, that is, not so much. Make sense?

 Alex:  Yeah. I’m nosy though. I want to know them inside out! But you have a point; if the characters were as complicated as the story we’d be in big trouble. There was lots of detail of how the characters feel about each other but little of internal monologue type stuff — little of what they were actually thinking or feeling. Probably because they were so busy “doing” all the time. Ok. I have said my piece. I am a thinker.

 Laurie:  And if that had been inserted, do you think all the action would have been slowed down? Or improved?

 Alex:  Well, I think it might have been too much. I guess that’s where my preferring more reality-based stories comes in.

 Lora:  Good point, Alex. That missing inner dialogue actually made me view it more as a film in my head as I was reading. Because in films, you often don’t get to hear that inner dialogue. Which will bode well for the producers, I suppose!

 Laurie:  And since Morgenstern started with the circus, then wrapped the rest of it around the circus, I don’t think it’s surprising there’s less character. Also: debut novel. And yet, so enchanting, nonetheless. I think one thing that would have been interesting is to have seen her up the darkness factor — explore that more.

 Lora:  I agree, Laurie. The end was almost missing something — that super intense feeling that was there the night the bonfire was first lit.

 Laurie:  The structure lent a sense of foreboding, and the details that we learned about the challenge, and the finger-slicing and wrist-breaking, but I think there could have been more of that, and easily, without distracting from the circus. For instance, the whole Thiessen scene and the hunt — amplifying that and adding more. For contrast between the wonder and the danger, light and dark.

  Lora:  Morgenstern could create a series out of The Night Circus if she wanted to. There’s so much more we could learn about it all.

 Alex:  She wrapped things up pretty quickly.

 Laurie:  I read somewhere that someone thought the ending had been so set up for a sequel. Did you get that feeling? I didn’t.

 Lora:  No, I didn’t get that, but I hope it’s true! I was left wanting to know what the heck happened in some regards.

 Laurie:  There were parts (like the plaques at the end) that, despite the lack of intense characterization, I found immensely touching. But, hey, total sentimentalist here.

 Alex:  Agreed. You get a sense of how much went into making the circus happen, and you definitely read it like you’re watching it happen. so the detail IS there, just in a different way. I really agree with likening it to a movie.

 Lora:  And I think the dialogue between Marco and Celia, when they were alone, was especially moving.

 Laurie:  Yes, re the movie. Morgenstern’s sense of action and pacing and her descriptive powers are superb. And with the characterization, you could argue it was as controlled as the characters themselves.

Who were controlled and not giving anything up — which I liked, in this Maury Povich world.

 Lora:  Ooh, interesting observation! Like Tskukiko — always so controlled, not giving too much away.

 Alex:  They echo Morgenstern.

 Laurie:  And the contrast between that control and the exuberance of the circus and the dinners — I thought it was marvelous.

 Lora:  Re pacing and timing, I’m happy we only arrived at present day at the very end and that it was through a visitor’s eyes. The idea of most of the circus taking place in the 20th century added more mystery and made it seem so much more exuberant.

 Laurie:  I loved that it continued so long. Made me feel happy about it all. And the whole thing —  we need to FIND the circus!!!

 Alex:  I know! So real! And so progressive. I wonder what happens if you email him. Let’s try it!

 Laurie:  Go for it!

 Alex:  OK, here’s what I emailed:

Hi Bailey
Just wanted to wish you luck with the circus and I hope all’s going well with Celia.

 Laurie:  Too funny!

 Alex: I got a response!

Thank you for your interest in Le Cirque des Rêves!

If you are inquiring as to the itinerary of the circus, we apologize,
but it is against our policy to disclose information about current or
upcoming locations.

Other inquiries will be responded to in as timely a manner as possible.


Erin Morgenstern
assistant to Mr. Clarke

 Lora:  Awesome!

 Laurie:  Well, ladies, so glad to have taken this journey into the Cirque des Rêves world together! Next up for our book club: Mr g by Alan Lightman. Prep yourselves for a fun but seriously thought-provoking read about the creation of the universe!

 Lora:  Looking forward to it!

 Laurie:  From the circus to the stars!

 Alex:  Me too! Here we go…