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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Paperback – Sep 20 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; New edition edition (Sept. 20 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747579881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747579885
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 6 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 862 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #438,134 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.


"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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By A Customer on May 27 2005
Format: Paperback
Well, I did buy this book based on lots of positive reviews, but this one will not be so great.
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.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
OK, here comes a long and a perfectly earnest one for a change.

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" 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.
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