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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell: Special Edition Hardcover – 20 Sep 2004

4 out of 5 stars 705 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 20 Sep 2004
£27.31
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 800 pages
  • Publisher: BOOK CLUB TITLES; Limited Ed edition (20 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747578095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747578093
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 25.3 x 7.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (705 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,207,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Any book touted as the ‘adult Harry Potter’ runs the risk of attracting critical parries from swords of the double-edged variety. If this wasn’t enough, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell--the debut novel from Susanna Clarke--also invites comparisons with Jane Austen. Set in the early nineteenth-century, the action moves from genteel drawing rooms—albeit where a mischievous Faerie king sips tea with the wife of a very human government minister, to the bloody battleground of Waterloo, where giant hands of earth drag men to their doom. The juxtaposition of perfectly realised magical worlds and the everyday one with which JK Rowling and Philip Pullman so successfully captured our imaginations and the social comedy of Austen and Thackeray can easily be recognised. But less easy to pastiche is the ability of these writers to induce sheer narrative pleasure, and it is Clarke’s great achievement that she succeeds with this hugely enjoyable read. Gilbert Norrell is determined to single-handedly rehabilitate his sanitised and patriotic version of English magic, which has suffered a post-Enlightenment neglect after a richly dark history. He ruthlessly secures his place as England’s only magician in two marvellously drawn feats. First, he brings the statutes of York Cathedral to life and then, to facilitate his entry into London society, he brings a young bride-to-be back from the dead--a feat with terrible consequences. However, another more naturally gifted magician—Jonathan Strange—emerges to become his pupil and later his rival. Strange becomes increasingly obsessed with the Raven King—the medieval lord-magician of the North of England and pursues his desire to recruit a fairy servant to the edge of madness. Whilst the differing characters of Norrell and Strange give the book a central human conflict, it is the tension between the dual natures of civilised and wilder magic that lends it a metaphysical texture that shades the narrative with wonderful and troubling descriptions of ships made of rain, paths between mirrors and faerie roads leading out of England to a bleak yet dazzling realm. Fortunately, the precision of her storytelling never reigns in Clarke’s prodigious imagination. Clarke’s broad canvas of characters—including Wellington, Napoleon and Bryon, locations and tones are masterfully realised. However, sometimes her own enchantment with them leads her to drop her pace, although even at almost 800 pages, this is a book to which you’ll muster up little resistance. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is the perfect novel to take up residence in as the nights get longer. -- Fiona Buckland -- This text refers to the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

'To be honest, my topic for a gathering, my page-turner, my mind-improver, my talking point and my train reading are all one and the same book: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell ... I am literally unable to put it down' Julian Fellowes, Tatler 'This peerless tale of magic pulled me in ... filled with fascinating tales and fairy lore. A stunning achievement' Independent on Sunday 'Dazzling, witty and gleefully entertaining ... A triumph ... this is an energetic, engaging and inventive tale that simply kidnaps the lucky reader to participate in a rare experience' Irish Times 'This is, in both the precise and the colloquial sense, a fabulous book ... a highly original and compelling work' Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I finished reading this exquisite novel last night - and am exceedingly sad as a consequence. This book is one of a very rare breed; the kind of book you want to continue reading forever. The writing is perfectly polished whilst being extremely accessible. Reading it feels likes drinking cocoa and wearing comfy slippers - the prose flows through your ears and slips into your mind with the ease of a conversation with an old friend.. There is no effort required on the reader's part, which is an incredible feat considering the actual subject matter is of such a complex and considered nature.
I have read some of the one and two-star reviews on Amazon and am amazed to see people complain of a "lack of plot". If you want a simple book with a straightforward beginning, middle and end, perhaps you would do well to steer clear of this one. This novel is like a fine vintage win, full of delicate notes and sublte undertones - it does not have the immediate hit of a shot of vodka.
It is a book of tremendous wit and humour which is subtly nuanced not forced into your face. I found myself laughing aloud several times at the satirical observations on history and politics.
The characters possess real depth and their natures evolve realistically throughout the novel - by "realistically" I mean that they alter gradually and slightly. This is not a heavy-handed work of fiction where the bad guy renounces his sins at the end and becomes good.
I feel desperately sorry for anyone who read this book and didn't feel its full power. This is a book to luxuriate in and is the best novel I have read in many years - one for the real literature lovers who appreciate style AND substance equally.
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Format: Paperback
Susanna Clarke's `Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell' is set in an alternate version of 19th Century England rife where magic is very much present. From the theoretical magicians that gather across the country to the hundred of people across the northern counties still waiting for their Raven King to come back and claim his throne, magic has an undeniable impact on everyone in the kingdom, rich or poor.

But while magical societies discuss the great feats of the past, in Yorkshire one man is determined to bring back practical magic. Surrounded by his precious books, the reclusive Mr Norrell heads to London to lend his help to the war effort and defeat Napoleon. Meanwhile, Jonathan Strange stumbles across magic as a profession almost by accident. Inventive, passionate and eccentric, his style and approach to the study and practice of magic is entirely different from Norrell's - leading to an inevitable clash of opinions.

England is split into `Strangites' and `Norrellites'. A war of words is played out through the magical journals. Increasingly great and ambitious magic is played out on the battlefields of Europe, the savage English coastline and the drawing rooms of the English aristocracy. People are raised from the dead, rain takes on solid forms, darkness falls for days on end and cities, roads and forests are moved to a magician's whim. But beyond all of this lurks shadowy figure of the Raven King and the malevolent world of faerie looking to reek havoc on those that dare to lay a claim on English magic - bringing dark and unforeseen consequences.

It is undoubtedly an amazing feat of world building.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
England in the early 19th Century, at war with France and magic forgotten across the land. A few worthy gentlemen read books of magic but they are merely theoretical magicians, there are no practical magicians any more. However one man seems to be more knowledgable than others, he collects books and lives quietly, challenged to show magic, Mr Norrell makes the stones of York Cathedral speak. Then he casts a spell to resurrect a wealthy and beautiful society woman, but this spell has unforeseen consequences. As his pupil, the young and glamorous Jonathan Strange, seems to upstage him through feats in warfare, Mr Norrell becomes more concerned that magic should be the preserve of the few.

I bought this book when it first came out, a decade ago, but never got into it. It's a massive tome (1000 pages) and has many footnotes which make it a complex read. However with more time on my hands I persevered and fell in love with the imagination that created this story.

Yes, it's flabby in places and the ending is complex, but it is just marvellous
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Format: Hardcover
This is truly a fantastic book. I can't praise it highly enough. The plot, characters, pacing and, above all, the back story, make this a brilliant novel and a fantastic début. And, being a Yorkshire lass myself, it was certainly gratifying to find a novel that doesn't rampantly stereotype all Northerners.
The story begins in 1806, when two theoretical magicians with the wonderfully Dickensian names of Segundus and Honeyfoot encounter the reclusive scholar, Mr Norrell. Their quest is to find out why magic, which was once so common in England, particularly in the North under the 300 year reign of the Raven King John Uskglass, is now a distant history to be studied by gentlemen like themselves. But they discover that, for all his bookish and condescending ways, Mr Norrell is in fact a practical magician, which he proves by bringing all the statues in York Minster/Cathedral to life. Having brought his powers to the attention of the public, he immediately sets of to London, where he plans to help in the war effort against Napoleon, and in the process resurrect English magic.
At first he is not taken seriously, and it soon becomes clear Norrell will go to any lengths to become the only magician in England. But when he encounters Jonathan Strange, another magician, he seems to wake up to new possibilities. He takes Strange on as a pupil. But the two men are too different for the partnership to last. Norrell is secretive and unfriendly, hoarding magical knowledge and desperately preserving his own prestige. Strange is charming and gregarious, and becomes a hero in the wars. What starts off as mild rivalry soon escalates into a feud, with far reaching consequences.
If you've see the size of this book, you'll understand it's a hard thing to summarize.
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