The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories Paperback – Oct 2 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Like Clarke's first novel, the bestselling Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, these eight stories (seven previously published) are set in an England where magic is a serious but sometimes neglected field of study. The first story sees the erudite Strange tangling with country witches. Others show Austenesque concern with love and its outcomes ("Did you not hear me ask you to marry me?"), often involving fairies. In "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse," the duke visits Faerie, a kingdom located on the other side of the wall in the village of Wall (a location Clarke borrows from Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess), and meets a woman whose needlework affects the future. In the footnoted "Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge...," a "monumental" stone bridge is built in one afternoon. Clarke humorously revisits Rumplestiltzkin in "On Lickerish Hill," in which it is revealed that "Irishmen have tailes neare a quarter of a yard longe." Clarke may have trouble reaching a new audience in short form, as the stories provide less opportunity to get lost in fantastical material, but the author's many fans will be glad to have these stories in one volume. Illus. by Charles Vess not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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 the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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. Read morePublished on Jan. 7 2013 by James Bailie
Susanna Clarke made a dazzling debut with "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell," which was the sort of fantasy story that Jane Austen would have written, had she lived around magic and... Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2007 by EA Solinas