Just yesterday, I finished reading Erin Morgenstern's book, The Night Circus. I read it because our book club chose it; I am not sure I would have picked it up otherwise, but I really enjoyed it.
The book is sort of like a Salvador Dali or Magritte painting; highly visual, teeming with gorgeous, evocative imagery. The Night Circus tells the story of Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair, two young gifted illusionists, living at the turn of the 20th century. They are the proteges of two competitive illusionists. As such, they are required to "Compete" to see which magician is superior. However, the venue, time frame, and rules of the competition are unclear and never stated. Celia and Marco live only to be pawns in this competition. Their childhoods are spent training and their adulthoods spent competing. Though Celia, in particular, is billed as "an illusionist", her skill is far greater. She can in fact actually manipulate the world around her with her mind. She veils her astonishing talents in "illusions" that could be seen as slight of hand, but her powers are phenomenal. The venue is "The Night Circus" a fantastical, magical circus that travels the world. The circus is unlike any you have ever seen, and the rich descriptions of the various tents are part of what makes "The Night Circus" such an enjoyable read.
There is a rich cast of characters who create and perform in the circus, and also another plotline involving a young farmer's son who becomes intoxicated by the circus' powers. Not surprisingly, the two competitors take an interest in each other, and may even fall in love (though both are suspicious of the other's motives). The plot picks up especially in the second half of the book, as it seems that these lovers may be doomed. There is a dramatic conclusion to it all, which I won't spoil here!
I would solidly recommend The Night Circus for its rich imagery, imaginative characters, and intriguing plot. I had to keep reminding myself to go back to the book throughout the first half, but by the second, I was definitely finding it to be a page turner.
Onward to Book 19!
That I haven't exactly been following through on my one recipe a week thing. Not even close. I just somehow can't really do it. It is the one thing too many that just can't be done. At this point, I am lucky if I get cooked food on the table at all!
If I am lucky enough to find time/space/energy to come up with a few more new recipes, I will be sure to post them. Until then, I will spare you the post of the every other night mac n cheese!
I woke up this Sunday wondering, what would happen if I said yes to everything I could today? A bit tired of the usual routine of being Mom to 4, and therefore, basically saying NO nearly constnatly to something or another.
So what would happen if I just said yes for a day (While of course not telling anyone in advance about it?)
It was lovely.
A few of the things I said yes to were..
•playing an early morning game of Guess Who? With Ruby
•reading the LAST chapter of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to Ruby
•letting Jerry eat when he felt like it and not when I thought he should
•Joe's Pizza for dinner
•rolling the life size die for a board game Ruby and Violet had created in the backyard.
•cooking lunch so Tanya could get a little extra work in.
It was actually not in any way dramatic. For one thing, no one asked for TV all day, or a constant stream of candy. But just a little switch in my head was turned, which made me more relaxed, more fun, and more...open to whatever came my way!
I read this one a few years after most of my friends. Finally got around to it last week. And I really, really liked it.
Written by Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog is the story of the inhabitants of an apartment building in Paris--specifically two characters, a 12 year old girl named Paloma who is eerily intelligent and has decided that she will commit suicide on her 13th birthday, primarily because her extraordinary intellect means that she has already glimpsed many of the secrets of the adult world--decay, decline, and disillusionment.
The other main character is the building's concierge, Renee, a widow in her 50s who was raised in poverty. Her intelligence, however, is just as remarkable as Paloma's. She keeps the fact that she reads Shakespeare and Tolstoy and appreciates Rembrandt and Art films from Japan strictly secret, worried that in some way she will be upsetting the natural social order by being smarter than the rich people she serves. Instead, she consciously dumbs down her responses before speaking, turning rich thoughts into monosyllabic grunts.
When a newcomer moves into the building, a fashionable and wealthy Japanese man named Mr. Ozu, he somehow sees directly what no one else has seen about Renee, and the two form an unlikely friendship and connection that changes what she believes is possible. At the same time, they both befriend Paloma, and Paloma begins to see hope for her own adult future.
The book is highly intelligent (I had to look up lots of words in the dictionary!!), but somehow never felt super pretentious, although at moments it was hard work The chapters are very short--3 to 5 pages, ish, which made it a very good read for a constantly interrupted Mom.