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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Paperback – Sep 29 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (Sept. 29 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608190862
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608190867
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 5.3 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 839 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,453,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. There may be no better marriage of talents than that of Clarke and Prebble. The former spins an enchanting, epic tale of English magic in the age of Napoleon, and the latter brings it to life—footnotes and all—with a full-bodied voice, skill and aplomb that rivals that of noted narrator Jim Dale. Set in a world where the study of theoretical magic is common, but the practice of it is unheard of, this sweeping narrative follows the exploits of England's only two practical magicians, the bookish Mr. Norrell and the affable Jonathan Strange, as they struggle to revive the country's magic in very different ways. Mr. Norrell is content to publish opaque, opinionated pieces on magic's uses and misuses, but Strange is fascinated by the legend and lore of the Raven King, the so-called father of English magic. The voices Prebble lends these two disparate characters nicely reflects their personalities—Norrell's voice is brittle and sometimes shrill, but Strange's is pleasant and ironic. As the two magicians labor together to defeat Napoleon and then separately to pursue their own ends, an elusive faerie known only as the "gentleman with the Thistledown hair" watches and schemes. Clarke's novel likely contains close to 100, if not more, characters, and Prebble juggles them all with ease. Although the heavy price of this audiobook may deter some listeners, there's no better way to experience the material than to hear it performed by such a consummate actor. Based on the Bloomsbury hardcover
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School - This delightful first novel exerts a strong and seductive pull on readers who might otherwise balk at its length. Like Philip Pullman's work, it is dark, deep, and challenging. It compares dead-on with Jane Austen's novels, and YAs who have underappreciated her wit may find it delicious when applied to magicians. Clarke even tosses in a bit of Dickens and Hardy - with great characterization, subplots, and a sense of fate bearing down hard on us. At stake is the future of English magic, which has nearly dwindled to all theory by the early 1800s, after centuries of prominence. When the book opens, only the reclusive and jealous Gilbert Norrell is practicing. Enter Jonathan Strange, a natural who has never studied magic formally. Norrell resents, then adopts Strange as a pupil whose growth he insists on controlling until the two come to the impasse that nearly leads them to destroy one another. Strange champions the 12th century's "Raven King" as the greatest magician in English history and hopes to summon him from Faerie, an alternate world. Norrell is determined to erase both from English memory - to hide the fact that he himself made a bargain with a fairy that has cost three people their lives, though their hearts go on dismally beating. Expertly written and imagined, the book is a feast for fans of fantasy, historical novels, or simply fabulously engrossing reads. - Emily Lloyd, formerly at Rehoboth Beach Public Library, DE
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 4 2004
Format: Paperback
I truly did not expect to like this book--this big, this enormous, intimidating book. My friends in my book club voted to read it (I didn't), but they were right and I was wrong. And to accept defeat, I announce with a shout: This is one seductively brilliant, imaginative novel! Clarke resurrects nineteenth century England with meticulous skill, then casts over it a Harry Potter-like magical aura. It has to be read to be believed. It all sounds foolish, I know. I was where you are now, smirking, shaking my head, saying, Right, right! But if you have good liberal-minded friends like I do, then you'll see. You'll see.
Other recommended books from my book club: AMAGANSETT by Mill and A SECRET WORD by Paddock
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 10 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one masterpiece of modern fiction that I recommend young and old alike to read. It certainly exceeds anything the Harry Potter series has to say about the realm of ancient magic as it impinges on the affairs of the modern state. There is a virtual cornucopia of serious history interwoven with delightful, off-the-wall fiction to create a world that will certainly dazzle the senses and make you laugh at the other side of life. I started out listening to the audio rendition and ended up buying the book because it was so good. The story is both simple and complex in nature. It is the late eighteenth century England, and the magical power of sorcerers and the clandestine activities of fairies that once dominated the land centuries before have now fallen silent. Sure, there are thousands of books full of spells and enchantments stored away in dusty, cobwebbed old libraries throughout the kingdom, but who can understand them? The true practice of magic has fallen to a lot of charlatans and quacks who know little of the true power of the ancient formulas. That is until Mr. Norrell, an obscure magician from backwoods England steps forward to breathe new life into the profession and answer to an ancient prophecy that true magic would eventually return to save the kingdom. With the help of a young upstart named Jonathan Strange, Norrell undertakes an assignment to save the British Empire from that pestiferous Napoleon. This is where the story really takes off, and the reader gets to see the fabulous and not-so-fabulous goings-on in the world of magic happen before their very eyes. Norrell, the keeper of the secrets, is willing to take on Strange as his apprentice only if he obeys the master's instructions.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 24 2008
Format: Paperback
Most fantasy strikes for the bad ripoffs of Tolkien, or other well-known (though not always great) authors.

But Susanna Clarke dazzles in a subtle way in her debut novel, "Jonathan Clarke & Mr. Norrell," a sprawling opus that took a decade to write. Think if Jane Austen had written fantasy about feuding magicians, and you'll have a pretty good idea of how this reads.

It's the early 19th century, in England. The Napoleonic wars threaten England, but that's not the only struggle going on. Magic is all but dead in England; the so-called magicians don't actually want to handle it, but want to leave it to old books and stories. Once the English magicians were powerful and respected, but now they just write boring essays about magic. Except for Mr. Norrell, a cautious little Yorkshire man who taught himself how to do magic.

However, things take a twist when he gives his help in the battle against Napolean -- a new magician enters the scene, the enthusiastic and charming Jonathan Strange. The two magicians begin to work together, but things begin to go awry when Mr. Norrell realizes that Jonathan is attracted to all magic -- including the more dangerous varieties. He's increasingly fascinated by the legend of the Raven King, a changeling child who ruled Faerie and Earth...

Historical fantasies have rarely been as detailed and rich as this one -- usually either the "historic" or the "fantasy" is abused. Often the best authors can do is write alternate universe stories where America lost the Revolution, the Roman Empire never fell, and so on.

But Susanna Clarke shatters that with her richly-realized look at 19th-century Britain, with unique magic and a slight mythologic twist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Knetsch on Dec 5 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I hesitate to review this book because I do not have the capacity with words that Clarke has to do justice in describing one of the best book I have read in possibly a decade. When I try to tell people it is about two magicians in 19th century England, I can't help but make it sound silly, when in fact the author writes about it in such a matter-of-fact manner that magic is almost banal. It makes you want to go back and study the Napoleonic wars to check to see if England did use magicians! These magicians are not of the Merlin or Gandalf type; they are at times rather boring English gentlemen with their own human foibles that give the novel an ironic kind of humour that is pervasive.

I actually study 19th century England for my doctorate and in doing so I have to read works from that period. What I find amazing is that Clarke is able to skilfully mimic the diction and way of speaking that was common at the time. Its as if she cam from some kind of parallel universe to give us a report on what events occurred in her world. And the footnotes add a delightful sense of verisimilitude!

Read and Enjoy!
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