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The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

On the day I started reading The Night Circus, I went to meet a friend for dinner and to see a play. I took the Overground into London, which, as you may know, has banked seating along each side of the train, rather than sets of twos, fours and sixes. A child sat next to me, and she could have been no more than ten years old, probably younger. I realised, after a couple of stops, that she was reading my book over my arm. I moved it over on my lap so she could see, and paid attention to her so I could tell when she was ready for me to turn the page. She was engrossed, and I felt so guilty that I had to get off the train, so I wrote down the title and author and gave it to her dad. It was the loveliest reintroduction to central London after six weeks away.

I’ve had this book on my shelf for over a year, since we replaced the copy at work with a paperback – hardbacks are borrowed less because they’re too big. And it being too big had a lot to do with me taking forever to read it… But I finally read it, and I’m so glad I did! After that train journey, I took it with me catsitting. I ended up being quite ill while I was there, so spent a lot of time reading in the garden – reading this was the perfect incentive to rest (well, reading this, napping in the sun, and feeding myself Magnums…).

Many reviews of The Night Circus say that it’s a book about a circus, with people in it, and that’s what I loved about it. The setting is more important than the characters, so the jumping timelines and the love story and, well, the plot, is secondary to the circus itself. And what a circus! It’s so vividly described, so imaginative, so, well, magical, that even the more contrived elements are charming. I found some of the characters rather irritating, but they work and their motivations make sense, which can be troublesome in a book like this. It’s a gorgeous book, and I’m thrilled that I finally read it.

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