Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
This book has been printed with two different dust jackets--one black, one white. Amazon.co.uk is unable to accept requests for a specific cover. The various covers will be assigned to orders at random. Any book touted as the ‘adult Harry Potter’ runs the risk of attracting critical parries from... show more
This book has been printed with two different dust jackets--one black, one white. Amazon.co.uk is unable to accept requests for a specific cover. The various covers will be assigned to orders at random. Any book touted as the ‘adult Harry Potter’ runs the risk of attracting critical parries from swords of the double-edged variety. If this wasn’t enough, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell--the debut novel from Susanna Clarke--also invites comparisons with Jane Austen. Set in the early nineteenth-century, the action moves from genteel drawing rooms—albeit where a mischievous Faerie king sips tea with the wife of a very human government minister, to the bloody battleground of Waterloo, where giant hands of earth drag men to their doom. The juxtaposition of perfectly realised magical worlds and the everyday one with which JK Rowling and Philip Pullman so successfully captured our imaginations and the social comedy of Austen and Thackeray can easily be recognised. But less easy to pastiche is the ability of these writers to induce sheer narrative pleasure, and it is Clarke’s great achievement that she succeeds with this hugely enjoyable read. Gilbert Norrell is determined to single-handedly rehabilitate his sanitised and patriotic version of English magic, which has suffered a post-Enlightenment neglect after a richly dark history. He ruthlessly secures his place as England’s only magician in two marvellously drawn feats. First, he brings the statutes of York Cathedral to life and then, to facilitate his entry into London society, he brings a young bride-to-be back from the dead--a feat with terrible consequences. However, another more naturally gifted magician—Jonathan Strange—emerges to become his pupil and later his rival. Strange becomes increasingly obsessed with the Raven King—the medieval lord-magician of the North of England and pursues his desire to recruit a fairy servant to the edge of madness. Whilst the differing characters of Norrell and Strange give the book a central human conflict, it is the tension between the dual natures of civilised and wilder magic that lends it a metaphysical texture that shades the narrative with wonderful and troubling descriptions of ships made of rain, paths between mirrors and faerie roads leading out of England to a bleak yet dazzling realm. Fortunately, the precision of her storytelling never reigns in Clarke’s prodigious imagination. Clarke’s broad canvas of characters—including Wellington, Napoleon and Bryon, locations and tones are masterfully realised. However, sometimes her own enchantment with them leads her to drop her pace, although even at almost 800 pages, this is a book to which you’ll muster up little resistance. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is the perfect novel to take up residence in as the nights get longer. -- Fiona Buckland
Publish date: August 30th 2005
Pages no: 846
Edition language: English
, Science Fiction Fantasy
, Science Fiction
, European Literature
, British Literature
, Historical Fiction
, Alternate History
Series: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell
This was a very uniquely told fantasy story. It’s set in England (mostly) in the early 1800’s, and the author tells it in an authentic-sounding manner. It mixes in a bit of the real world with the fantasy world, and uses some archaic words like “shew” (show) and “chuse” (choose) to add flavor. Th...
For anyone who might be interested, Corey Olsen is taking an in depth look at Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. The class starts next Wednesday, 9/16/15. A link to the announcement post is here. Having just read this book, I'll definitely be rereading and listening along. And I know that there ar...
I "read" the audio book, performed by Simon Prebble. I say "performed" and not "read" because it is truly an astounding performance. And it is likely his performance that makes me describe the pace of the book as a slow burn rather than simply slow, as others have done. I was completely taken in by ...
Congratulations, Susanna Clarke! You have cracked my Top 10 Favorite Authors! *confetti explosion* I couldn't believe that this epic masterpiece was a debut novel. However, it makes sense when you discover that Clarke has a history in the publishing world and most likely has had time to learn the in...
Plot Summary from Goodreads: At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his p...