- Paperback: 1024 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury; New edition edition (5 Sept. 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0747579881
- ISBN-13: 978-0747579885
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 6 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 765 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 223,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Paperback – 5 Sep 2005
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Any book touted as the adult Harry Potter runs the risk of attracting critical parries from swords of the double-edged variety. If this wasnt 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 roomsalbeit 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 Clarkes 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 Englands 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 magicianJonathan Strangeemerges to become his pupil and later his rival. Strange becomes increasingly obsessed with the Raven Kingthe 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 Clarkes prodigious imagination. Clarkes broad canvas of charactersincluding 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 youll 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.
A fabulous book
highly original and compelling -- Sunday Times<br \><br \>Compelling: Clarkes tale of magicians and fairies is a prodigious achievement -- Sunday Times<br \><br \>Extraordinary flights of the imagination
a leisurely, engaging read that draws you into another world. Ideal for escapists --Claire Colvin, Daily Mail
Full of spells, bad weather, statues that talk, haunted ballrooms and sinister gentlemen with thistledown hair be enchanted! ***** --Elle
Spellbinding This is masterful, brilliantly paced storytelling prodigiously imagined, elegantly witty, superbly crafted --Scotsman
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If you have the patience, or are a fan of 18th and 19th century fiction, then buy it! Buy it now! It's fabulous. There's a rich fictional history that is slowly exposed through footnotes, alongside a story of two deeply flawed men, each blundering along a magical path they believe they understand, but which is utterly obscured from their view. There are no obvious heroes or villains here. No clearcut moral values. Mistakes are made and consequences felt.
It's rare I'll read a book that has me exclaiming aloud at the actions of a character, knowing that it will cause mayhem and yet having only the dimmest notion what the consequences will be. It's even rarer to read something where I truly don't know where it's going. There's no wellworn literary path here, no tired story tropes.
Without saying too much and spoiling it I don't know what else to say. Just buy it. Do it now.
Yes in some respects - the book centres around the difficult and changing relationship between Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell as well as their impact upon, and the influence of their magic over, other characters and events throughout the narrative. The language is very much in keeping with the period setting and the use of actual historic events as a backdrop for the magic is inspired. There is an awful lot to like here.
But I felt that some of the chapters, in handling a series of connected events, were overly-long and that the progress of the central plot was slowed significantly as a result. Whilst the individual footnotes were exceedigly detailed and entertaining, there were a great number of times when I felt I was being lectured and constantly having to dip in and out of the narrative was frankly irritating. I really don't expect that of, nor seek it in, a novel!
So, does this book do what it says on the dustjacket? For me the answer to that question is : Not really.
I watched the first 2 episodes of this book on T.V. recently and thought ..."that looks interesting" so I bought it and gave up on the t.v. show so I didn't spoil the story.
After about 125 pages of the 850+ pages of the tale I nearly threw in the towel. I wondered what it was all about and what a strange form of writing.
The author can spend almost half a page describing "how a door opened" or "the surface of a path"with very odd spelling as well. Anyway I stuck with it, it had a few good little tales within the story but overall it was a very odd book. Today at 6.30 I finished it..!!!! I am none the wiser as to what was going on .I gave up on "Wolf Hall" like many other people, that was hard work like this one.
It could have been a great little read if it had been reduced to about 350 pages...Sorry Susanna..
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