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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
19,35156683 (3.96)1 / 821
  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 by Diane Setterfield (majkia)
    majkia: both books evoked the same sort of feeling for me.
  8. 196
    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. 164
    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. 51
    Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (nnicole, Jannes)
    nnicole: Magic during the English Regency.
    Jannes: Evokes the same sort of magic in a historical setting (is that a genre yet?) without straying too far inot fantasy/alt-history territory.

(see all 49 recommendations)


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English (554)  French (5)  Japanese (2)  Italian (2)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  All languages (568)
Showing 1-5 of 554 (next | show all)
At first I was delighted, feeling I was in for a rare treat. The voice is perfect and I respect all the research, the characters do seem to come to life, but it got tedious all this waiting for things to happen, the very slow pace of it all and the language like a lid on everything. I understand why it is praised, I just didn't have the energy to keep at it, or found not enough reward for the effort. Perhaps I'll finish it another time. I hate to put a book down, but other more exciting ones called. ( )
  a_forester | Jul 26, 2015 |
It started out interestingly enough -- almost an adult version of the Bartimaeus Trilogy, where magicians also rule over England -- even with the Dickensian writing style. But whether it was the story itself or whatever was going on in my life, I felt the middle dragged on and on. I laid it down for a while, then forced myself to finish it. Somewhere around one hundred pages to go, the story got fascinating again, but by this time, I had lost track of all the characters. There's a bit of a surprise ending, which makes it a challenge to re-read, so having found little enjoyment in it the first time, this book is moving on to someone who can better appreciate it. ( )
  legallypuzzled | Jul 11, 2015 |
This novel is written as a history of what occurred when Mr. Gilbert Norrell decided that magic needed to return to England. It had been several hundred years since magic could be felt in the earth, sky, and animals and no contact had been made with Fairie, the other world inhabited by magical beings. His problems, however, started with a severe inability to share his knowledge with others who have the ability to do magic. Jonathan Strange is his first student who is nothing but enthusiastic and wants to please Mr. Norrell but is frustrated that he is not given all the books on magic to read that Mr. Norrell had been collecting throughout the country and is hoarding in his library. One last volume written by the last great magician, The Raven King, is illusive, however, and Norrell and Strange would like nothing more than to get their hands on it first.

As they study and become adept at magic, a man with "thistle down hair" comes on the scene and takes a couple of people to his place, Lady Pole (wife of London's mayor) and Stephen Black (mayor's black butler), where dancing went all night. His place is known as Lost-hope. Stephen is able to party all night and maintain his duties during the day but Lady Pole suffers from exhaustion. They are both under spells which makes it impossible to explain to others what they are doing.

When Strange becomes sufficiently able to cast spells, he is called to duty with Lord Wellington to help fight Napoleon's forces using magic. He does this by improving roads for the British forces and moving rivers and bridges to thwart the enemy. It got to the point where locals lied to the invading forces and hinted that certain roads were imbued with magic making them undesirable to the French.

I found the book slow but not so slow that I gave up. I did interrupt my reading with the arrival of another book which may have made it easier to continue. Like a marathoner being able to see the finish line, there came a point where the action took off and there was no thought of giving up. ( )
  mamzel | Jun 20, 2015 |
I've wanted to reread Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, well, pretty much since I first read it (probably in 2004 or 2005 when it was still new). I have to admit I was a bit nervous though because many readers through the years have decided they couldn't get through it, with its copious footnotes and details. I thought maybe my memories of it were more glowing than the book itself. But, the new BBC miniseries prompted me to get to it now and, though it admittedly took me a couple of weeks to get through it, I enjoyed it again just as much as I remembered having done the first time. It is a glorious novel that builds an entirely believable hidden world of magic, just out of focus from our own world.

http://webereading.com/2015/05/jonathan-strange-and-mr-norrell.html ( )
1 vote klpm | Jun 9, 2015 |
A very enjoyable "alternate history" style fantasy of a magical England in the 1800s. Fantastical, eerie, and humorous. It's not often I read a book that makes me laugh, but I got quite a few chuckles out of this book. Excellent imagery and character development, and enough interesting and entangled plot points that it was hard to put down. ( )
  seph | Jun 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 554 (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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