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Ladies Of Grace Adieu, The [Hardcover]

Susanna Clarke
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 30 2006
Magic, madam, is like wine and, if you are not used to it, it will make you drunk Faerie is never as far away as you think. Sometimes you find you have crossed an invisible line and must cope, as best you can, with petulant princesses, vengeful owls, ladies who pass their time embroidering terrible fates, or with endless paths in deep dark woods and houses that never appear the same way twice. The heroines and heroes bedevilled by such problems in these fairytales include a conceited Regency clergyman, an eighteenth-century Jewish doctor and Mary Queen of Scots, as well as two characters from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: Strange himself and the Raven King.

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From Publishers Weekly

Fans of Clarke's bestselling Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell should be pleased with this book, as the stories collected here are very much cut from the same cloth. The stories (seven previously published and one original tale, "John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner") deal with fairies and the history of English magic, and are told in the same Victorian style that made JS&MN so distinct. Prebble (who also narrated JS&MN) returns and once again triumphantly brings Clarke's richly imagined world to life. Sharing narrative duties this time around is Porter, who is equally skilled at playing prim and high-born ladies as she is using more folksy tones in "On Lickerish Hill." The footnotes that bogged down the audio edition of JS&MN are mostly absent, and the narrators' very different styles work well to give each story its own distinct feel. A lyrical and thoroughly enjoyable collection from a burgeoning master of fantasy literature.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Revisiting characters and landscapes she created in her best-selling Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2004), Clarke has crafted eight quirky and devious stories to delight her fans. In the title story, Mr. Strange himself reappears and tangles with three country witches. "On Lickerish Hill" is a clever retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin," with a twist. In "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse," the redoubtable hero follows his horse into Wall, a village created by Neil Gaiman, and encounters a woman whose embroidery tells the future. The story set farthest back in time has Mary, Queen of Scots, trying to kill Queen Elizabeth with a skirt. And in the final story, the Raven King himself is outwitted by his lowliest subject. All but one of the stories takes place in or around 1811, and Clarke uses the language, diction, and historical settings beautifully, just hinting at Jane Austen. Each character is elegantly drawn and comes to life on the page. These stories are charming, engaging, and deceptively simple. Elizabeth Dickie
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, excellent, excellent. Jan. 1 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I delayed reading this book after loving Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell since I prefer longer stories which accompany me for a week or two even when I'm not reading them. However, the world Clarke creates comes to life so vividly for me that I looked forward to returning to it even though the stories changed.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, but it was too episodic for my tastes. I wanted it to come together into one over-arching story. The stories in this book are focused and delightful. I love the characters, and I love Clarke's style.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ladies! May 6 2007
Susanna Clarke made a dazzling debut with "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell," which was the sort of fantasy story that Jane Austen would have written. Still fresh from her first bestseller, she presents a new array of captivating stories in "The Ladies of Grace Adieu." But expect it to be more whimsical.

The title story takes place in the magical Regency period of her debut: dull Mr. Field remarries after his wife died, and his pretty second wife, his niece, and a friend soon become good friends. When Mr. Strange passes by on a family errand, he discovers that there is more -- these ladies are all magicians, and have quietly escaped the boundaries placed by society.

From there on, Clarke trips through a series of strange, fantastical stories: when a young newlywed finds that her rich hubby expects her to spin flax, she asks for help from a nasty little fairy, who will kidnap her if she doesn't guess his name. Think a Regency "Rumplestiltskin."

Then a young lady tries to regain her boyfriend from the mysterious "Mrs. Mabb"; a Duke changes his destiny with a pair of scissors and a needle; a Jewish doctor and a fairy nobleman travel through England; the Queen of Scots becomes fascinated by an embroidered figure; and a young pastor finds himself enmeshed with a cruel fairy lord. One of the stories is even set in the world of Neil Gaiman's "Stardust."

"The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories" is more fantasy and less history than the full-length novel, although it leans more heavily on history. But then, most of these short stories may not be in the same universe, and they range from whimsical little fluff pieces to almost-horror.
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