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The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories…

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories

by Susanna Clarke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,2821041,669 (3.88)192
  1. 132
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke (billiecat, celtic)
  2. 80
    Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman (Larkken)
    Larkken: The short stories contained in each anthology have a similar feel, and both, to some degree, play with traditional fairy tale themes. Clarke's novel benefits from reading her debut novel, as this collection is placed in the same world.
  3. 80
    The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany (billiecat)
  4. 40
    Fairy and Folk Tales of Ireland by W. B. Yeats (billiecat)
  5. 30
    Smith of Wootton Major by J. R. R. Tolkien (paradoxosalpha)
  6. 20
    Lud-in-the-mist by Hope Mirrlees (Jannes)
    Jannes: A wonderful tale about elves, humans and the delicate balance between them, written in the same florid and fariy-tale-esque vein that both Dunsany and Clarke uses so effectively.
  7. 20
    Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner (Michael.Rimmer)
  8. 11
    Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link (jujuvail)
  9. 14
    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling (norabelle414)

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» See also 192 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
Despite the length of [b:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|14201|Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|Susanna Clarke|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1357027589s/14201.jpg|3921305], when I finished reading it this summer I wasn't done with the book by any means. I wanted to keep reading it, and so searched high and low for The Ladies of Grace Adieu, knowing it featured the same world and even some of the same characters. As keen as I was to read it, I was also terrified. I worried it would be a bad collection of short stories that would spoil all of JS&MN for me. Sometimes writers hold onto characters or ideas longer than they should and the effect as bad. Oftentimes we readers crave more of a story or a character but are actually fortunate that the writer deprives us of more, when more could spoil it. Think of all the TV series that go on for longer than they should and taint the whole thing, becoming the opposite of all the things you loved about it in the first place. I was afraid that would be the case with this book.

As you can tell by the rating, it wasn't. It makes sense that it wasn't. Clarke wrote JS&MN in many different parts, an episode here and an episode there which she stitched together after to form the novel. Some of the episodes became footnotes, while others couldn't find a place in the novel and ended up here.

I loved that we finally had more female characters leading the stories, as they were lacking in JS&MN and Clarke seemed very aware of that. I love her deep understanding of Regency and Victorian writing styles (and earlier—"On Lickerish Hill" is a perfect send-up of certain 17th century authors), and all the echoes of Austen in "Mr Simonelli" were hysterical to me. I need more Susanna Clarke in my life. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Susannah Clarke's epic Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was a favorite in 2004, when I eagerly awaited more. Finally, I have my wish with this charming collection . Not all of the stories are set in the same universe as Jonathan Strange, but the authorial tone I enjoyed so much is back, as are a sprinkling of those delicious footnotes. Clarke has the amazing ability to make a story that you're reading for the first time seem like something you've always known, as if you had it told to you when you were very small and forgot all about it until now. ( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
Susanna Clarke’s much lauded magnum opus Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is one of my favorite speculative books. So I didn’t hesitate to order The Ladies Of Grace Adieu And Other Stories after reading an excellent review on the Calmgrove blog.

It features 8 stories, plus a fictional introduction by “Professor James Sutherland, Director of Sidhe Studies, University of Aberdeen”. That introduction is only 3 pages and set my expectations even higher, as Clarke’s familiar ‘English’ narrative voice shone through instantly, promising more of the treat Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was. All the stories in this 235-page collection deal with Faerie in one way or the other, and were illustrated by WFA winning artist Charles Vess. A few are also explicitly linked with J.S. & Mr. N.

The stories are about 10 to 50 pages long, and nearly all predate Clarke’s big tome by a few years. All but one were published before. Here’s a list of the titles: The Ladies Of Grace Adieu (1996), On Lickerish Hill (1997), Mrs Mabb (1998), The Duke Of Wellington Misplaces His Horse (1999), Mr Simonelli Or The Fairy Widower (2000), Tom Brightwind Or How The Fairy Bridge Was Built At Thoresby (2001), Antickes And Frets (2004) and John Uskglass And The Cumbian Charcoal Burner (new).

Let’s cut to the chase: (...)

Please continue reading on Weighing A Pig... ( )
  bormgans | Oct 16, 2016 |
Some more extended footnotes for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Some of the footnotes have footnotes! ( )
  themulhern | Sep 28, 2016 |
I have quite a few illustrated reprints of 19th- and early 20th-century folk- and fairy-tale collections on my shelves, some even facsimiles of the originals, and so this collection of short stories by the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in many ways seemed familiar. Not only were the Charles Vess illustrations deliberately reminiscent of those of Arthur Rackham and his ilk, but the writing often recalled antiquarian texts with the occasional scholarly footnotes. In fact I was often reminded of the ghost stories of M R James in that they seemed as if written by an earlier avatar of that academic.

Above all, of course, the style was unmistakably that of Susanna Clarke's own magnificent debut novel with its Regency aesthetic and period spelling -- and no worse for that. That this collection has been compared unfavourably with that doorstopper of a fantasy is unfortunate since it should be judged solely as a group of short fictions: as such it is much more successful than many an uneven selection of miscellaneous tales, even those by a single author.

The informative introduction is by Professor James Sutherland, Director of Sidhe Studies at the University of Aberdeen (though you will search in vain for any online bibliography by, or even biography of, the holder of this prestigious post); he describes this book as an ideal primer on Faerie or the fairy realm. The title story -- in some ways the most memorable of the eight tales -- is set in the same period as the action of Strange & Norrell, and in fact Jonathan Strange himself puts in an appearance. The three ladies living in the Gloucestershire parish of Grace Adieu are proof that, despite Gilbert Norrell's assertion that he was the first and foremost modern practitioner of English magic, men did not have the monopoly of that power; as Lady Catherine of Winchester wrote, "magic belongs as much to the heart as to the head." The ladies further demonstrate the truth of this medieval writer's assertion, that "everything which is done, should be done from love or joy or righteous anger." Righteous anger is the motivation in this case when intruding males attempt to impose their arbitrary wills on the ladies.

"The Ladies of Grace Adieu" must be partly inspired, I believe, by Renaissance images of the classical Three Graces; in particular Botticelli's Primavera features these mythical figures dressed in diaphanous robes, whose near neoclassical style was not only popular in the Regency period (when this story is set) but is also referenced in Jonathan Strange's vision of
"three ladies in pale gowns walking (almost dancing) upon the bank above him. The stars surrounded them; the night-wind took their gowns and blew them about."
The title of the story is also allusory: the village title isn't, as might be assumed, "goodbye to grace" (a comment on the 'unnatural' abilities of these three females) but grace à dieu, French for "thanks be to God". In other words, whatever finally happens to Captain Winbright and Mr Littleworth -- and to the put-upon Miss Pye -- is only just, the consequence of righteous anger, the attribute of the God of the Old Testament. And of female practitioners of magic.

"The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse" is a whimsical version of the familiar fairytale of a visitor to the Otherworld. Featuring Britain's heroic general -- who has already appeared in Strange & Norrell -- the story shows the army commander in an unfavourable light, contrary to his popular appeal, completely out of his depth in Faerie. (This tale was inspired by the village of Wall which appears in Neil Gaiman's Stardust.) The other story that links indirectly with Strange & Norrell is Lord Portishead's "John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner". As Professor Sutherland points out, the Raven King John Uskglass (who is a key figure in a "somewhat obscure novel") features in folktales of a type in which "the rich and powerful are confounded by their social inferiors". And so it proves in this wonderful and humorous retelling from A Child's History of the Raven King.

"Mrs Mabb" is very reminiscent of the group of Tam Lin ballads, about a young woman who tries to rescue her true love from the clutches of a wouldbe fairy lover. Venetia Moore is in love with Captain Fox but he mysteriously disappears, apparently captivated by the charms of Mrs Mabb. There are echoes in this tale of the Dancing Princesses motif, and a hint of the Mr Fox folktale (which proves to be a false lead), but the clue of course is from Mrs Mabb herself -- who must be related to (if not indeed the same as) Shakespeare's Queen Mab, referred to in Romeo and Juliet. Another queen appears in the short tale "Antickes and Frets" which gives an alternative view of Mary Queen of Scots. In her deluded attempt to dispose of the Queen of England by any means possible Mary Stuart even apparently resorted to magic. But she had not reckoned with the redoubtable Countess of Shrewsbury, Bess Hardwick.

Two of the tales are told in the first person. "On Lickerish Hill" is told by the relatively unlettered Miranda (a name surely inspired by The Tempest) who marries above her station. Set in 17th-century Cambridgeshire, this is based on the Suffolk version of the Rumpelstiltskin tale type, "Tom Tit Tot". I suspect the choice of word is deliberate: 'lickerish' is a medieval spelling of a French word meaning lecherous, and so her fairy bride seems to be. This is a delightfully told (if at times sinister) narrative, which brings in John Aubrey and a clutch of Cambridgeshire worthies (if their topographic surnames are anything to judge by).

The second of the first-person narratives is "Mr Simonelli or The Fairy Widower". Here we have some rather dubious characters, not only the Fairy Widower -- who is as sinister as the Gentleman with Thistledown Hair in Strange & Norrell -- but Alessandro Simonelli himself. Professor Sutherland reminds us Simonelli is a notoriously unreliable narrator, and we see some aspects of this in the tale where he tries to show himself in a good light, all of which is confirmed when we learn of his origins.

"Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby" purportedly first appeared in Blackwood's Magazine in 1820. It recounts the friendship between the gentleman fairy Tom Brightwind and the 18th-century Jewish physician David Montefiore. On a journey to Lincoln the pair passed through one of the Lincolnshire villages called Thoresby which had dire need of a bridge to revive its ailing fortunes. As is the wont of lecherous fairies there was an ulterior motive to Tom Brightwind stopping in Thoresby to deal with the inhabitants' lack of a decent river crossing.

Several strands emerge from this striking group of tales. First, almost as if to counteract the dominance of male figures in Strange & Norrell four of the tales focus on women. True, not all act or end up well, but they are at least centre stage as it were. Second is the creative use of traditional tales, mediated through the kind of language spoken or written in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Third is the geographical range of tales -- we go from Gloucestershire to Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire to Lincolnshire, Staffordshire to Cumbria.

And fourth is the strong sense of verisimilitude running through all the tales which, despite our certainty that this is all fantasy, almost persuades one that there must be a grain of truth in them -- so much so that one is tempted to research further despite it being a futile exercise! (Yes, Reader, I succumbed to the temptation, such was the magic of these delicious stories.)

http://wp.me/s2oNj1-graces ( )
1 vote ed.pendragon | Jun 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
In the end, Ladies of Grace weaves a similar magic as Jonathan Strange, but perhaps the book is not magical enough.
added by Shortride | editBookmarks Magazine (Jan 1, 2007)
the stories in The Ladies of Grace Adieu are consistently subtle and enchanting, and as charismatic as any reader could wish, but, while the collection has the panache of [Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell], it lacks its glorious self-possession. The stories feel a little adrift, a little raw, occasionally too neat; they're not the natural heirs to the magnum opus. But then, how could they be, and why should they be? A short fiction collection is a different beast to a novel, and is bound to work on its readers in entirely different ways.

They are uniformly clever and meticulously composed, knowledgeable of folk traditions while giving them a modern spin.
Whether it takes 10 months or 10 years to produce her next full-length work, Susanna Clarke is a better writer than this showcase would have you believe. Devotees and completist fans of Strange and Norrell will want to get their hands on this book, but the rest will probably want to wait.
"Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy Widower" is the most authentically creepy story here. A tale of a fairy who kidnaps young women and consigns them to the direst conditions imaginable, it wanders into Stephen King territory, though without the overt gore. "John Uskglass and the Cambrian Charcoal Burner" is a perfectly constructed fable with a witty, judicious outcome.

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Susanna Clarkeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Porter, DavinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vess, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Faerie is never as far away as you think. Sometimes you find you have crossed an invisible line and must cope, as best you can, with petulant princesses, vengeful owls, ladies who pass their time embroidering terrible fates, or with endless paths in deep dark woods and houses that never appear the same way twice.

The heroines and heroes bedevilled by such problems in these fairy tales include a conceited Regency clergyman, an eighteenth-century Jewish doctor and Mary Queen of Scots, as well as two characters from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: Strange himself and the Raven King.
For my parents, Janet and Stuart Clarke
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Introduction by Professor James Sutherland, Director of Sidhe Studies, University of Aberdeen:
I have approached this collection with two very modest aims in mind. The first is to throw some sort of light on the development of magic in the British Isles at different periods; the second is to introduce the reader to some of the ways in which Faerie can impinge upon our own quotidian world, in other words to create a sort of primer to Faerie and fairies.
Above all remember this: that magic belongs as much to the heart as to the head and everything which is done, should be done from love or joy or righteous anger.
Magic, madam, is like wine and, if you are not used to it, it will make you drunk.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Susanna Clarke returns with an enchanting collection brimming with all the ingredients' of good fairy tales: petulant princesses, vengeful owls, ladies who pass their time in embroidering terrible fates, endless paths in deep, dark woods, and houses that never appear the same way twice. The heroines and heroes who must grapple with these problems include the Duke of Wellington, a conceited Regency clergyman, an eighteenth-century Jewish doctor, and Mary, Queen of Scots, as well as Jonathan Strange and the Raven King."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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