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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna…
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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2004)

by Susanna Clarke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
23,15368799 (3.95)1 / 1043
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.
  1. 371
    The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke (billiecat, celtic)
  2. 331
    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. 220
    Little, Big by John Crowley (VisibleGhost)
  4. 211
    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)
  5. 202
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (derelicious, jonathankws)
  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 by Diane Setterfield (majkia)
    majkia: both books evoked the same sort of feeling for me.
  8. 216
    Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake (saltmanz)
    saltmanz: Both extrememly atmospheric books, with vivid visuals and memorable characters.
  9. 161
    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.
  10. 185
    His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (Rodo)
  11. 185
    The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (clif_hiker)
  12. 186
    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.
  13. 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.
  14. 133
    To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (hiredman)
  15. 80
    Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (jen.e.moore)
  16. 113
    The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton (flissp)
  17. 115
    The Prestige by Christopher Priest (Patangel)
  18. 60
    Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis (Aerrin99)
    Aerrin99: Books which focus on a fascinating historical Britain, but with added fun like magicians and more.
  19. 82
    Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (spiphany)
  20. 60
    The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox (Anonymous user)

(see all 60 recommendations)

To Read (12)
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English (668)  French (5)  Japanese (2)  Italian (2)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (2)  All languages (685)
Showing 1-5 of 668 (next | show all)
An absolutely fantastic fantasy novel. Absorbed me entirely from page one. ( )
  Dan733 | Apr 15, 2020 |
An absolutely fantastic fantasy novel. Absorbed me entirely from page one. ( )
  Dan733 | Apr 15, 2020 |
It is 1806 and there is a gathering on theoretical magicians in the city of York. They believe that the practice of magic ceased a number of years ago, but the are very surprised to learn that a gentleman by the name of Gilbert Norrell still practices the art. He owns the largest collection of magic books that they have come across, bought by him to stop others reading and owning them. After amazing the society with a demonstration of magic, his servant convinces one of the members to report the event in the London papers.

The article raises Mr Norrell’s profile significantly and he decides to move to London to raise the profile of English magic once again. As he mixes with the great and the good of London society, he raises the fiancée of a minister back to life by summoning a fairy, but Norrell is forced to accept the demands of the fairy. This act is a step in making the acts of magic respectable once again, and Mr Norrell is engaged by the government to help in the war against the French. As he moves around London, he seeks to remove the charlatans who claim to be magicians, but one of them, Vinculus, who foretells that there will be two magicians in the land, and a slave who will become King. Vinculus repeats this prediction to Jonathon Strange when he meets him, and at this point Strange decides to become a magician too.

Three years later, Strange decides to pay Mr Norrell a visit. They clash over the significance of The Raven King, John Uskglass, in the history of English magic. Norrell decides to take on Strange as a pupil, partly to teach, but also so he can control him, and the knowledge he is learning. Strange and his wife become popular characters in London, and the government find him easier to deal with that Norrell, and offer him a post abroad fighting the French, which he accepts. Arabella makes friends with Lady Pole, the lady raised from the dead, she is now exhausted as she is taken to the kingdom of Lost-Hope, where she dances all night. The fairy who takes her dancing is trying to enchant Arabella too.

Strange realises that Norrell is stopping him from becoming the magician that he could be, and they part company, with society taking the side of their preferred magician. Strange decides to write a book, The History and Practice of English Magic, much to Norrell’s horror. Then suddenly Arabella is ill and goes missing

Six years later, Norrell’s assistant is aware that another individual is now practicing magic in England, and it cannot be Strange as he has moved to Venice, and is experimenting with much darker magic in an attempt to gain access to the land of Farie, but this brings him the eternal night. Back in England, John Uskglass has returned, and with him comes a magical renaissance, but Norrell fails to see the significance of this. The magical stakes rise, as Strange returns to England, as he faces Norrell and now Uskglass in the magical realm that England has now become.

This is a very melodramatic and gothic novel, but with a large fantasy and magical element to it. The society that Clarke has created is woven between a fictional history and in the beginning orbits the dual characters of Strange and Norrell, as they find the limits to their magic and influence.

The characterisation of the two main people is quite good. Norrell is stuffy, selfish and not really someone that you warm to, whereas Strange is bold, and sometimes brash, but generally likeable. Other characters feel a little two dimensional at times, but have sufficient flaws and foibles to keep the story ticking over. Uskglass is the mystery though, he inhabits both worlds, and add the necessary element to make it feel suitable sinister and mysterious.

But there were some flaws. The plot was very slow moving, and I mean very slow. Maybe this was to add to the drama, but a book of this size needs some pace occasionally. IT felt very over-written too, almost like the editor was not bold enough to take a red pen to the book and whittle away the excess. The final problem I had was the footnotes. They are huge, in some cases several pages long, perhaps they should have been called foot chapters… A fine footnote will enhance a story, Pratchett was the master of these, but having them this long really means that they should have been part of the main text.

So generally fairly good, but could have been so much better.
( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Wonderful and magical. Creepy and fun! Great characters. Loved this! ( )
  CatherineStewart | Mar 23, 2020 |
gave up (again). It's decently entertaining. When they change Russell Crowe's Gladiator line to "are you not decently entertained!?" I'll give this another go. ( )
  mvayngrib | Mar 22, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 668 (next | show all)
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."
 
A chimera of a novel that combines the dark mythology of fantasy with the delicious social comedy of Jane Austen into a masterpiece of the genre that rivals Tolkien.
added by Shortride | editTime, Lev Grossman (Aug 16, 2004)
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clarke, SusannaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merla, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenberg, PortiaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Webb, WilliamCover designersecondary 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."
It may be laid down as a general rule that if a man begins to sing, no one will take any notice of his song except his fellow human beings. This is true even if his song is surpassingly beautiful. Other men may be in raptures at his skill, but the rest of creation is, by and large, unmoved. Perhaps a cat or a dog may look at him; his horse, if it is an exceptionally intelligent beast, may pause in cropping the grass, but that is the extent of it. But when the fairy sang, the whole world listened to him. Stephen felt clouds pause in their passing; he felt sleeping hills shift and murmur; he felt cold mists dance. He understood for the first time that the world is not dumb at all, but merely waiting for someone to speak to it in a language it understands. In the fairy's song the earth recognized the names by which it called itself.
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Book description
Haiku summary
Two odd magicians
restore magic to England
and go kind of nuts.
(marcusbrutus)
Don't ever make a
deal with a faerie – it will
not end well for you.
(passion4reading)

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