Hey voyagers, I’m back from Berlin!
While on the plane, I re-read one of my favourite books of all time: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Now I know a lot of you already know (and love!) it, but I figured I’d talk about it a bit so the rest of you get readin’! However, there’s a LOT of reviews out there already, and if I did one It’d probably be nowhere near as good as those, so I brainstormed a while and came up with another way to encourage you Night-Circus-muggles to pick it up. Instead of sharing the blurb that’s on the back of the book, I decided to share with you one of my favourite parts of the book (which I promise contains no spoilers whatsoever).
One of the things I like most about Erin Morgenstern’s way of writing is that her descriptions are extremely thorough and at the same time totally open, so that you know all the little details of a person or object, but you can still dream up for yourself the way in which they fit together. Page 69 of my copy of The Night Circus is a great example of this: It describes a clock that is both extremely important and at the same time irrelevant to the storyline:
“It takes the better part of those months for Herr Thiessen to complete the clock. […] He balances the entire design on that specific word Mr. Barris used: Dreamlike.
The finished clock is resplendent. At first glance it is simply a clock, a rather large black clock with a white face and a silver pendulum. Well crafted, obviously, with intricately carved woodwork edges and a perfectly painted face, but just a clock.
But that is before it is wound. Before it begins to tick, the pendulum swinging steadily and evenly. Then, then it becomes something else.
The changes are slow. First, the color changes in the face, shifts from white to grey, and then there are clouds that float across it, disappearing when they reach the opposite side.
Meanwhile, bits of the body of the clock expand and contract, like pieces of a puzzle. As though the clock is falling apart, slowly and gracefully.
All of this takes hours.
The face of the clock becomes a darker grey, and then black, with twinkling stars where numbers had been previously. The body of the clock, which has been methodically turning itself inside out and expanding, is now entirely subtle shades of white and grey. And it is not just pieces, it is figures and objects, perfectly carved flowers and planets and tiny books with actual paper pages that turn. There is a silver dragon that curls around part of the now visible clockwork, a tiny princess in a carved tower who paces in distress, awaiting an absent prince. Teapots that pour into teacups and minuscule curls of steam that rise from them as the seconds tick. Wrapped presents open. Small cats chase small dogs. An entire game of chess is played.
At the center, where a cuckoo bird would live in a more traditional timepiece, is the juggler. Dress in harlequin style with a grey mask, he juggles shiny silver balls that correspond to each hour. As the clock chimes, another ball joins the rest until at midnight he juggles twelve balls in a complex pattern.
After midnight, the clock begins once more to fold in upon itself. The face lightens and the cloud returns. The number of juggled balls decreases until the juggler himself vanishes.
By noon it is a clock again, and no longer a dream.”
What do you think of the clock and its description? Have you read the book? Sadly, Erin Morgenstern has yet to publish another novel like this one, but if you know any similar books, PLEASE leave them down in the comments. As for myself, the closest I’ve come is with The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye.
Once more, please remember to take part in the What Type of Traveller are You? survey I started to celebrate 200 followers! You can do so by clicking here for the instructions and here for the questions.