Run away and join the circus

In today’s economic climate, running away and joining the circus is starting to sound like a reasonable Plan B. But even if you’re not ready for clown shoes, you’ll enjoy escaping intoErin Morgenstern’s enchanting first novel, “The Night Circus.” Written in the bewitched town of Salem, Mass., this story whisks us back a century, before circuses were dogged by PETA protests and overshadowed by “Disney on Ice,” a time when exotic acrobats and wild animals inspired awe and laughter with a soupcon of menace. But more than merely re-creating the Greatest Show on Earth, Morgenstern has spun an extravaganza that makesP.T. Barnum look smaller than Tom Thumb.

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