Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Paperback – Sep 20 2005
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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.
"A manifesto for what the genre should be." -- Times Literary Supplement
"An instant classic, one of the finest fantasies ever written." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Equal parts Jane Austen and Charles Dickens flavoured with Rowling and Tolkien ... one of the year's best and most original works." -- National Post
"Gorgeously and richly bizarre." -- Montreal Gazette
"Wonderful ... built one splendid scene upon the next." -- Globe and Mail
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Top Customer Reviews
Other recommended books from my book club: AMAGANSETT by Mill and A SECRET WORD by Paddock
I found this book very long and tedious. There are lots of descriptions and long winded sections that just seem to go on forever. And the extra bits of information that were provided as an aside to the story were really quite distracting.
The actual story of Strange and Norrell is good and the characters interact quite well. However, this book only got interesting towards the end, so it made the rest of the story rather dull and difficult to follow.
If you are looking for a light read, then this is not the book for you.
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!
I must say that I was thoroughly impressed by Susanna Clarke's book start to finish, even though reading it was an ambitious undertaking in the weeks following my first child's birth. I won't pretend to be too objective, then, when I say that the amazing tale of the two English magicians has in a sense become intertwined in my imagination with a very magical time of my own life.
I can see why it would be so polarizing, however, especially in a post-Harry Potter world. People hear "England and Magic" and reckon that they'll get some thrilling quidditch action and some tender insights into the joys and hurts of growing up, but that's not to be found here. Instead, we get a wonderful and at times whimsical mash up of classic Regency-era literature (like Pride and Prejudice or Vanity Fair with modern-day magical realism along the lines of One Hundred Years of Solitude or Midnight's Children.
The huge page count, the interminable footnotes (many of which, incidentally, are more amusing and creative than the main story they append), the coy affectation of period spellings like "shew" or "surprize"...in a lesser book, these seeming indulgences would be infuriating, but the way they are employed by the author was brilliant, they just drew you in even further. Also, it becomes apparent only over many many pages that this is not just a work of alt-historical fiction, positing strange events during a time and at a place well known to most readers of English Lit, but a sly redesign of English history to render a fantasy setting at the same time familiar as it is uncanny.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I am very happy with my purchase of S. Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.Published 1 month ago by Carla J. Glen
Not bad at first, but gets tedious after a while. Seems to just rabble on without much sense of where it's going or why you should keep reading.Published 3 months ago by Peter
Loved the series and loving the book. Hope to see more publication from this author.Published 8 months ago by Emma Ates
This book is awesome absolutely love the story and the characters. A recommendation for anyone who likes fantasy novels.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
I enjoyed it. It's the kind of book that you sip a little bit each night like a fine scotch or brandy. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Alastair J. W. Maxwell
Complex, brilliant, refined... but sometimes demanding on the readers patience, especially the first 200 pages or so. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Guy Wonder