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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna…
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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

by Susanna Clarke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
18,95954587 (3.96)1 / 758
  1. 321
    The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke (billiecat, celtic)
  2. 291
    Stardust by Neil Gaiman (GreenVelvet, GreenVelvet, GreenVelvet)
    GreenVelvet: Both Stardust and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell are detailed, well-written and riveting explorations of the world of fairie.
  3. 201
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (derelicious, jonathankws)
  4. 180
    Little, Big by John Crowley (VisibleGhost)
  5. 172
    The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany (billiecat)
    billiecat: Clarke's descriptions of Faerie share the dreamlike qualities of Dunsany's novel.
  6. 140
    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (-Eva-)
  7. 185
    The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (clif_hiker)
  8. 164
    His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (Rodo)
  9. 153
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (majkia)
    majkia: both books evoked the same sort of feeling for me.
  10. 175
    The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper (ErlendSkjelten)
    ErlendSkjelten: I don't remember making this recommendation, much less why I did; they are very different books. I think I felt that they both conjured up the same mystic mood, and they are both concerned with a very British magic.
  11. 131
    Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: Both have the same "Jane-Austen-meets-Harry-Potter" vibe to them; "Jonathan Strange" is denser and more grown-up, while "Sorcery & Cecelia" is funnier and more of a romp.
  12. 131
    Lud-In-The-Mist by Hope Mirrlees (TheSpecialistsCat)
    TheSpecialistsCat: Both Clarke and Mirrlees lived briefly in Spain, then returned home to write about fairies and also, ostensibly, what it means to be English.
  13. 166
    Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake (saltmanz)
    saltmanz: Both extrememly atmospheric books, with vivid visuals and memorable characters.
  14. 124
    To Say Nothing of the Dog; or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis (hiredman)
  15. 103
    The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton (flissp)
  16. 104
    The Prestige by Christopher Priest (Patangel)
  17. 71
    Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (spiphany)
  18. 50
    Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis (Aerrin99)
    Aerrin99: Books which focus on a fascinating historical Britain, but with added fun like magicians and more.
  19. 50
    The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox (Anonymous user)
  20. 84
    The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud (clif_hiker)

(see all 46 recommendations)

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English (532)  French (5)  Japanese (2)  Italian (2)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All languages (545)
Showing 1-5 of 532 (next | show all)
The restoration of English magic by 'Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell' is a wonderful alternate history fantasy novel set in Regency England during and after the Napoleonic wars. The decade-long crafting that Susanna Clarke put into her genre mixing first novel rewards the fantasy reader with something different than they have read before.

The premise of the novel is that magic returns to England after disappearing two centuries with the works of Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Strange, who then put their 'powers' to work in helping Great Britain in the fight against the Emperor Napoleon first on the sea and then on land. However, the personalities and magical philosophies of Strange and Norrell are completely different from one another which leads to the split of their pupil-tutor relationship and mild rivalry especially when it came to the figure of the mysterious Raven King of Northern England. Intertwining with the main story arc are numerous secondary characters with their own arcs that combine in the novel climax that the reader doesn't see coming but is satisfying once completed.

Clarke's combination of faux-Austen and faux-Victorian prose give the novel an authentic feel to set-up the alternate historic aspects of the novel as well as the class distinctions between various secondary characters that come into play. One of the greatest aspects of the novel is the worldbuilding that Clarke puts into her story, which can be seen in around 200 footnotes that cover everything from reference books of magic to folklore concerning various English magicians including the Raven King. The distinctions between northern England, the former realm of the human-fairy Raven King, and southern England/London is not just rural and urban but romanticism and rationalism concerning magic that Clarke uses effectively.

Although the faux-Austen/faux-Victorian prose does give the story an authentic feel, it does take time for the reader unfamiliar with them to get use to. Although Clarke creates a wonderful alternate history of Regency England using magic to face Napoleon, she does forget to take in account the effects of the long reign of the Raven King in northern England would impact all of British history due to the dynastic implications of various nobles not influencing the politics of England and Scotland because they no longer have their lands. While one can forgive Clarke's mistakes in alternate history because she focused on the bigger story, the one thing I personally was upset with was that the reader wasn't given a name for the antagonistic thistle-down haired gentleman.

Upon completion of 'Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell', I felt very satisfied with the time I spent reading this wonderful novel. Adding fantasy to Regency England and the influencing the Napoleonic wars really awakened the history buff in me adding to my enjoyment of the novel. If you are an open-minded fantasy reader, I recommended this book to you. ( )
1 vote mattries37315 | Dec 2, 2014 |
I liked it!! The narration was probably the biggest draw. Such a sass pants. And the characters were believable, and stuffy, and very posh, which was fun to read about. ( )
  ariel.kirst | Nov 14, 2014 |
This book is authentic for the period it proposes to imitate in at least one way: it reads like Clarke was paid by the word.

There was a lot to like in the book. Some of her turns of phrase are wonderful. I liked Arabella, Stephen, and Lady Pole. Mostly I liked Jonathan Strange. Childermass too. It was enjoyable enough, and I'm glad I read it to the end.

But the pacing. AUGH, the pacing. It was TERRIBLE. I read the book in the three-volume edition. Nothing happened in the second book until the last thirty pages. Not a single thing worth noting. This book could easily have been condensed into 500-550 pages without losing anything of any worth. Length isn't generally an issue for me (heh) - in fact, I do love a good long book, because I always tend to want MORE - but this was stretched. And the irritating thing is, plenty of different routes could have been taken to fill up that space. As someone else mentioned, I wanted to know more about Norrell. Without knowing more, he's just a malicious git. Strange could have used some more filling out too - why do we only meet him 270 odd pages into it?

The end felt... convoluted. I don't want to say too much, but it seemed rushed, and with the middle of the book dragging so much, it made no sense to suddenly go BAM! ENDING!

Overall, if you have some spare time and get a chance to read this, I would. It's a decent faux-Victorian study of a relationship between two vastly different men, with some commendable pieces of writing, and some intriguing moments, but ultimately, I wouldn't strongly recommend it.
( )
  humblewomble | Oct 19, 2014 |
Absolutely marvelous! Very involving and satisfying. The best thing I've read in quite some time. ( )
  AmphipodGirl | Oct 14, 2014 |
Right. That’s it then: when I grow up I want to be a magician. That’s if I can find any books of magic – as opposed to books about magic of course. An unusual and enjoyable book, with some brilliant literary pastiches, but at over 1000 pages, far too long. I could have died – or been enchanted- before I got to the end; I don’t think the narrative drive would have suffered by having a few hundred pages taken out. ( )
  florasuncle | Oct 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 532 (next | show all)
"Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" has been celebrated as an adult Harry Potter story, but it is more like a flatter and flabbier one. Chapters end with no cliff-hanging urgency, and the book is studded with unremarkable remarks. ...

Somehow, the gargantuan battle for the future of English magic does not become a matter of enormous consequence. But it does become the basis for a brand new fantasy world, an intricate and fully imagined universe of bewitching tricks. Maybe that's enough.
added by Aerrin99 | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Sep 14, 2004)
 
Her deftly assumed faux-19th century point of view will beguile cynical adult readers into losing themselves in this entertaining and sophisticated fantasy.
 
Many charmed readers will feel, as I do, that Susanna Clarke has wasted neither her energies nor our many reading hours.
 
Susanna Clarke, who resides in Cambridge, England, has spent the past decade writing the 700-plus pages of this remarkable book. She's a great admirer of Charles Dickens and has produced a work every bit as enjoyable as The Pickwick Papers, with more than a touch of the early Anne Rice thrown in for good measure.
 
"Move over, little Harry. It’s time for some real magic."
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Susanna Clarkeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merla, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenberg, PortiaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
He hardly ever spoke of magic, and when he did it was like a history lesson and no one could bear to listen to him.
Dedication
In memory of my brother, Paul Frederick Gunn Clarke, 1961-2000
First words
Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians.
Quotations
At sixteen she spoke -- not only French, Italian & German -- which are part of any lady's commonplace accomplishments -- but all the languages of the civilized (and uncivilized) world. She spoke the language of the Scottish Highlands (which is like singing). She spoke Basque, which is a language which rarely makes any impression upon the brains of any other race, so that a man may hear it as often and as long as he likes, but never afterwards be able to recall a single syllable of it. She even learnt the language of a strange country which, Signor Tosetti had been told, some people believed still existed, although no one in the world could say where it was. (The name of the country was Wales.)
It is also true that that his hair had a reddish tinge and, as everybody knows, no one with red hair can ever truly be said to be handsome.
"Soldiers, I am sorry to say, steal everything." He thought for a moment and then added, "Or at least ours do."
"Can a magician kill a man by magic?" Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might," he admitted "but a gentleman never could."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0765356155, Mass Market Paperback)

It's 1808 and that Corsican upstart Napoleon is battering the English army and navy. Enter Mr. Norrell, a fusty but ambitious scholar from the Yorkshire countryside and the first practical magician in hundreds of years. What better way to demonstrate his revival of British magic than to change the course of the Napoleonic wars? Susanna Clarke's ingenious first novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, has the cleverness and lightness of touch of the Harry Potter series, but is less a fairy tale of good versus evil than a fantastic comedy of manners, complete with elaborate false footnotes, occasional period spellings, and a dense, lively mythology teeming beneath the narrative. Mr. Norrell moves to London to establish his influence in government circles, devising such powerful illusions as an 11-day blockade of French ports by English ships fabricated from rainwater. But however skillful his magic, his vanity provides an Achilles heel, and the differing ambitions of his more glamorous apprentice, Jonathan Strange, threaten to topple all that Mr. Norrell has achieved. A sparkling debut from Susanna Clarke--and it's not all fairy dust. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:45 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In nineteenth-century England, all is going well for rich, reclusive Mr Norell, who has regained some of the power of England's magicians from the past, until a rival magician, Jonathan Strange, appears and becomes Mr Norrell's pupil.

» see all 7 descriptions

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