Sunday, September 9, 2012
Published by: Harvill Secker
Publication Date: September 15th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 387 Pages
To Buy (different edition than one reviewed)
Celia and Marco have been bound to each other long before they knew of the other. Two men have pitted them against each other. The man in the grey suit picked Marco out of an orphanage, while the magician Prospero chose his own daughter. For years they study and train in solitude what people who don't know better would call magic. They don't know the rules or how a winner will be chosen, yet one day, they finally learn the venue, a circus will be their battleground. Not just any circus! This circus is what Merlin is to a stage magician and his mechanical apparatus. Only the preeminent performers are chosen to live in a world of black and white. To travel the world as a member of Le Cirque des Rêves. Celia travels with the circus as their illusionist, hiding in plain sight, as it where. Because no one could believe what she does is real. Marco prefers to work behind the scenes as the assistant to the proprietor, Chandresh. Marco knows from the first time he sees her that Celia is his opponent, while Celia, for the longest time, is only responding to his moves, not knowing her opponent.
As time moves forward, Celia and Marco become less certain of their objectives, being drawn more and more towards each other. The lives of others are also at stake as they are unwittingly drawn into the game. While the circus was created for the express purpose of the game, it has become something more. Following the circus is becoming a way of life for many people who have coined themselves rêveurs. When the game is done the circus will have served it's initial purpose, but Celia and Marco realize that it needs to go on. They will not be the ones to do this, so someone must be chosen. Someone who is a dreamer, who can balance the opposing forces of chaos and order that the challenge embraces. It is all a matter of timing.
For the longest time I have been unable, or unwilling to write a review of this book. I just can't think of anything to say that would do this book justice. Saying it was the best book I have read in years might give you some indication, as would the fact that almost everyone I have recommended it to has loved it, but again, that is subjective. Though none of that covers the why I love this book so much. My words can never say what I want them to say, so I will use Moregenstern's own words.
"It is important... When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words...There are many kinds of magic, after all."
This book, for me, was pure magic and has taken up residence in my soul. It transported me to a world of black and white stripped tents, apple orchards that Louisa Mat Alcott might have written about in Little Women, fall nights going to fairs when they where still magical. This book bottled the memories of what wonder is, much as Widget would, and gave it back to me. Like The Prestige, but with a Tim Burton/Edward Gorey slant and star crossed lovers and hopes and dreams. Everything combines together to make magic. Just go read it and maybe by the time you are done I can articulate my feelings, but my writers block is much like the inability to remember a dream upon waking, you only are left with that wonderful glow.