The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is certainly a jigsaw puzzle of a novel, but also very much worth reading. I’m very curious to hear the reactions of fellow All Good Books club members when we meet to discuss the novel on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 7:00 PM at the Leawood Pioneer Library (4700 Town Center Drive, Leawood, KS). Here are some possible discussion questions I noted as I read through the 500 page novel.

  1. What’s the first line of the book? Did you view it as ominous or a foretelling of adventure? Or did you have a different response or no immediate reaction?
  2. Why do you think Morgenstern chose the circus as the venue for the competition between Marco and Celia? What is a good choice?
  3. Who said “Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case” and why?
  4. What is your response to the statement by the Man in the Grey Suit when he says “People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see (Page 24).”
  5. Any thoughts on the statement that a secret loses its “power bit by bit” when written or shared (Page 226)?
  6. What was the message in the deaths of Herr Fredrick Thiessen and Tara Burgess? Why did they have to die? Or did they?
  7. Why was the reveurs group created? What was their purpose within the plot? The French term translates as “dreamers” (noun). Any thoughts on that?
  8. On page 440, Elizabeth (one of the reveurs) says, “We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams around from place to place….” Are the reveurs any different from the rest of us?
  9. The sign for trespassers at the Night Circus says they’ll be “exsanguinated.” Who was the one trespasser we know about and did that happen? Why or why not?
  10. When Bailey was first introduced as a character, what role did you think he was going to play? Were you correct?
  11. How were Marco and Celia bound to the competition? Did it occur to you that the method foreshadowed the outcome?
  12. Who was the Contortionist? What role did that character play and what were her motives?
  13. In a metaphorical sense, what was the role of Chandresh Lefevre? Of Prospero and Alexander H? Of the reveurs, the public who attend the Night Circus, and the competitors?
  14. As you think back on the entire novel, do you see parallels in literature? History? Religion? What did you view as the overall theme? How would you summarize the “message” of the book? Does it say anything about real life?
  15. Of all the visual images within the book, which intrigued you the most? Or which did you think most beautiful? Possible examples include: the Opening Night Bonfire (page 119-121) the Midnight Dinners, Ship of Books, the Wishing Tree, Pool of Tears (page 396), the Hall of Mirrors, and the das Meisterwerk clock (page 88-89).
  16. Who was the most fascinating character in the book? Why? Does your selection change if you exclude Celia and Marco?