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on 24 September 2017
I couldn't bear to depart from the world of Strange and Norrell at the close of the novel, so I immediately alighted on 'The Ladies'. I found it charming and was delighted to be back in the same universe without the overarching narrative of the first novel - I felt as if I could take my time here, there was less urgency to find out what was to come (also, this is quite short so I think I was more aware of savouring it). I don't want to include spoilers but noting characters and allusions, familiar from the first novel felt satisfyingly like an inside joke. There were also new things, and the extra information about Faerie made me want to read more/read the first one again.
Despite really enjoying this, I must say that I don't think that I would have been as captivated by it had I not read Strange and Norrell first. Nonetheless, it worked for me well, I enjoyed it and by the time I had finished it I was happy enough to read something different without feeling bereft.
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on 19 May 2017
A series of short stories from the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
Good stories, sort of Jane Austen meets Faery Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker. The authors second book, I believe, and nothing more since - perhaps the creative juices have dried up? I had heard somewhere that a further book was in the pipeline, but delayed due to ill health?
If one does get published, I will be near the front of the queue to purchase one!
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on 24 October 2015
Loved Strange/Norrell so thought I would try this. Took it on holiday & its a great read, the individual stories are ideal for a holiday, as you can pick up & put down with ease. Wish Susanna Clarke would write more.
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on 18 July 2017
Great book. Not quite Mr Norrell, but all of Susanna Clarke's or fantasy fans won't be disappointed!
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on 25 April 2010
would use again !
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on 6 July 2012
In this first collection of short stories, Susanna Clarke returns to the world she created in her first novel, the excellent "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell", with more stories about the world of Faerie and England. Jonathan Strange visits his wife's brother in the town of Grace Adieu and discovers there three women who secretly practice magic and deal with any menaces that come to their town with strict severity. A re-telling of the folk tale "Tom Tit Tot" is the basis for "On Lickerish Hill" where Clarke employs rural dialect in the telling of a young woman who, in return for a favour from a faerie, must guess his name within one month or else she will become his.

My favourite was probably "Mr Simonelli, or The Faerie Widower" which is about a priest called Mr Simonelli who goes to the town of Allhope to be the new rector there and finds that the town is ruled by a mysterious fellow who lives outside the town in a ramshackle house, whose name is John Hollyshoes. The setting and the air of desolation within an isolated countryside town brought to mind the work of the Bronte sisters, especially Emily, and adds to the atmosphere of blasted heaths and doomed country folk. Who will help them? Mr Simonelli to the rescue! I thought this story was most effective as even though it's set within Clarke's world of faeries and magic and England in the regency period, it stands apart from her novel and could be read by somone unfamiliar with her work and still enjoy it.

"Tom Brightwind, or How the Fairy Bridge was Built at Thoresbury" is another cracking read as is "Mrs Mabb" both of which feel like they had been cut from Clarke's novel and resurrected here but are still pleasures to read nonetheless. The shorter stories, "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces his Horse" and "Antickes and Frets", are both about embroidery and are the less energised of the tales but fit in well between the longer tales as breathers. Both stories are about real people as well, the Duke of Wellington and Mary, Queen of Scots.

There are eight stories in this collection (more! more!) and the first seven have been published before, though I'm glad they were reprinted in this volume as I had no idea that she had had published short stories. The eighth is an unpublished story called "John Uskglass and the Charcoal Burner" which is about a charcoal burner and his pig Blakemore who thwart John Uskglass, The King of the North, and shows Clarke's comedic side in putting down probably the coolest character in her world.

As for the illustrations, they are a wonder, I am going to see about getting some books by Charles Vess, so wonderfully does he draw. And the cover of this book! So eye catching, so classy, so understated yet outstanding! In design and spirit they recall Aubrey Beardley's iconic work. One of the best designed covers I've seen this year.

Clarke writes about magic but she needs none to enchant the reader, using only her skill as a writer and her unique imagination to burn the story into your mind and float into your dreams. A highly recommended read and I'm not the only one who hopes that the sequel to "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" won't take her nearly as long as her first book (which I think was around ten years). Meanwhile, books like this are designed to stop the hunger but I for one am only made hungrier for more. Keep it up and keep them coming, Ms Clarke!
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on 22 March 2017
Short stories set, for the most part, in the world of Clarke’s superb Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Perhaps reading this collection immediately after the novel was a mistake, for each of these tales feel like nothing more than excised anecdotes from the footnotes of that tome. In isolation they’re splendid things, confident, quirky, and charming - but I wish I’d read something else in between so that I’d had the experience of revisiting Clarke’s world rather than the feeling of trailing off that this collection left me with. That feels very damning, especially given the quality and warmth on display here. In reading, timing is everything.
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on 17 June 2015
If you liked Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell you will like this. It's short stories based around the same "world" but with fewer pages.
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VINE VOICEon 18 January 2007
A collection of wonderful short stories upon the themes of English magic and the inhabitants of Faerie by Susanna Clarke, author of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel. Once again Clarke's attention to detail, us of annotation and academic conventions bestows an extra layer of realism to these tales, so they read almost as histories, or at least well established folklores with hundreds of years of tradition and storytelling behind them. These are true fairy-tales, in the tradition of the brothers grimm. One or two of the tales may be confusing if the reader is not entirely familiar with the story of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel (although the ingenous use of footnotes fills in the gaps for the uninitiated), however for those who found Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel too long and difficult to get into, this may be the perfect way to get into the work of a truely original writer. And for those who did enjoy it, well, this is just a treat. Highly recommended, Susanna Clarke is definately a writer I will be watching closely from now onwards.
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on 20 October 2016
Disappointing as I had thought it would follow on from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel but the book consists of a set of short stories. I had thought there would be a main story and one or two short ones.
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