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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna…

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

by Susanna Clarke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Clarke's Faerie Stories

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
19,46957382 (3.96)1 / 836
  1. 341
    The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke (billiecat, celtic)
  2. 311
    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. 200
    Little, Big by John Crowley (VisibleGhost)
  4. 202
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (derelicious, jonathankws)
  5. 170
    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (-Eva-, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Magical rivalries are at the heart of these unconventional Fantasy novels, which play out over decades and against elaborate, atmospheric 19th-century backdrops. Their initially relaxed pacing gains momentum as the various narrative threads dramatically converge.… (more)
  6. 182
    The king of Elfland's daughter by Lord Dunsany (billiecat)
    billiecat: Clarke's descriptions of Faerie share the dreamlike qualities of Dunsany's novel.
  7. 183
    The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield (majkia)
    majkia: both books evoked the same sort of feeling for me.
  8. 206
    Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake (saltmanz)
    saltmanz: Both extrememly atmospheric books, with vivid visuals and memorable characters.
  9. 185
    The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (clif_hiker)
  10. 141
    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.
  11. 174
    His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (Rodo)
  12. 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.
  13. 176
    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.
  14. 123
    To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (hiredman)
  15. 103
    The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton (flissp)
  16. 71
    Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (spiphany)
  17. 104
    The Prestige by Christopher Priest (Patangel)
  18. 60
    The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox (Anonymous user)
  19. 50
    Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis (Aerrin99)
    Aerrin99: Books which focus on a fascinating historical Britain, but with added fun like magicians and more.
  20. 84
    The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud (clif_hiker)

(see all 50 recommendations)


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English (559)  French (5)  Japanese (2)  Italian (2)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  All languages (573)
Showing 1-5 of 559 (next | show all)
Overall, I enjoyed this book. The story is mainly a narrative of the lives of the characters. Some of them are profoundly involved with or affected by magic. Others are only tangentially affected, if at all.

The last part of the book (maybe 20%) really picks up, but you need to wade through the first 80% for it to make any sense. ( )
  grandpahobo | Sep 24, 2015 |
@jonathan_strange +magicians

This was recommended by Lev Grossman as an example of capital-"L" Literature full of ambiguity. I normally don't like Downton Abbey like books (although ironically I do like Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle). And, I wasn't sure if I was ever going to get into the book but the ending was really good. I just feel like it should have gone on a little longer in the end while it spend a little too long in the middle. Overall, worthy of it's high recommendation. ( )
  Lorem | Sep 23, 2015 |
When I realized I was 50 pages from the end of this 800-page book, I started to consciously slow down my reading. Not because I wanted the book to go on forever, but because I was enjoying the ride so much. Susanna Clarke does a wonderful job creating this world and keeping the narrative going through lots of different subplots and settings. If only all writers who took on epic tomes were so good at storytelling. ( )
  keywestnan | Sep 14, 2015 |
This was the second time I read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell; I wanted to see how closely the BBC mini-series was adhering to the plot (and I think that they're doing a bang-up job). I enjoyed the novel the first time I read it and even more this second time around. Clarke's plotting is deft and the way she treats being "magician" as a job (one wonders whether Strange and Norell have LinkedIn accounts) more than a wonder lends the story an air of easy believability. The seamless integration of the fantastic with the historical end of the Napoleonic wars adds to viability of the world she creates.

My only quarrel with the story comes at the very end. The efforts Jonathan Strange expends on righting wrongs effected by an amoral fairy seem at odds with the irresolution that closes the novel. Once again, I found myself wanting more. Nevertheless, I am sure that I have not read this beautifully written work for the last time. ( )
  wardemote | Aug 22, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this book. Other reviewers have already nailed the many things about it that make it a great read: many interesting and sound characters, the imaginative depiction of magic that makes it seem both real and wild without being a plot crutch. I love the sparse but lovely use of poetry; in a sense, in this book, poetry IS magic, and magic always takes a poetic form, fairy magic even more so than most. One can also tell that the author's references to various symbols, pictures and mythical elements are well grounded in serious history, as are the historical characters and events so well-woven into the storylines.

My only great complaint was that the book was long, which becomes a problem during long stretches which are very slow paced. As a writer myself I also kept imagining how much energy it must have been to write and revise it all, especially considering all the incidental detail in each scene, and this added to my weariness. The pace builds in a pleasantly powerful way towards the end, though. The somewhat open ending succeeds by rollig your imagination down a great hill and letting it continue, rather than by simply bringing the illusion to a close, which in the weeks since I finished the book I have found surprisingly agreeable. I keep coming back to it.

This is definitely a book to make me wish more than ever that I had been born in a country with as much of a mysterious, literary and historical birthright as England enjoys.

I had heard there was an effort to make a movie out of this book. While that would be enjoyable, a mini-series adaptation would be much more to my liking, and allow the richness of the book to shine through. ( )
  joeld | Aug 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 559 (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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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.
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.
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."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Two odd magicians
restore magic to England
and go kind of nuts. (marcusbrutus)

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:06 -0400)

(see all 6 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 8 descriptions

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