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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by…

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel (2004)

by Susanna Clarke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
21,04364968 (3.95)1 / 932
  1. 351
    The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke (billiecat, celtic)
  2. 321
    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. 201
    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: A Novel 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. 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.
  9. 216
    Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake (saltmanz)
    saltmanz: Both extrememly atmospheric books, with vivid visuals and memorable characters.
  10. 185
    The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (clif_hiker)
  11. 185
    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. 133
    To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (hiredman)
  15. 103
    The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton (flissp)
  16. 60
    Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (jen.e.moore)
  17. 60
    The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox (Anonymous user)
  18. 105
    The Prestige by Christopher Priest (Patangel)
  19. 72
    Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (spiphany)
  20. 61
    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 55 recommendations)


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English (634)  French (5)  Japanese (2)  Italian (2)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (2)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  All (649)
Showing 1-5 of 634 (next | show all)
This is written in an early 19th century tone. Racism and Class-ism abound in historically accurate ways but it is the nature of the characters and the time, not the author's prejudices that add that flavor to the telling of the story.

It is a convoluted story that wanders off in multiple directions. The ending is never obvious until you actually get to it. It isn't "happily ever after" but it is satisfactory.

This is a very good choice for fans of Jane Austen and urban fantasy. ( )
  Kitty.Cunningham | Jul 19, 2017 |
England in the early 19th Century, at war with France and magic forgotten across the land. A few worthy gentlemen read books of magic but they are merely theoretical magicians, there are no practical magicians any more. However one man seems to be more knowledgable than others, he collects books and lives quietly, challenged to show magic, Mr Norrell makes the stones of York Cathedral speak. Then he casts a spell to resurrect a wealthy and beautiful society woman, but this spell has unforeseen consequences. As his pupil, the young and glamorous Jonathan Strange, seems to upstage him through feats in warfare, Mr Norrell becomes more concerned that magic should be the preserve of the few.

I bought this book when it first came out, a decade ago, but never got into it. It's a massive tome (1000 pages) and has many footnotes which make it a complex read. However with more time on my hands I persevered and fell in love with the imagination that created this story.

Yes, it's flabby in places and the ending is complex, but it is just marvellous ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
Mr Norrell declares to the Society of Magicians in York (who are theoretical practitioners only) that he can perform actual magic. No one has seen actual magic for hundreds of years, but Mr Norrell makes good on his claim. At this point I was hooked, mainly by the beautiful writing and by the gentle tone and dry humour.

Then Mr Norrell goes to London and seeks to become famous by assisting the government with his magic, but only on his own terms and only by practising limited, "safe" magic. Things become more complicated when he brings Lady Pole back to life and then accepts Jonathan Strange as his pupil. Overall, I enjoyed this novel, which is a very long, but not a difficult read. However, I almost never read fantasy novels and found the arbitrariness of the "rules" governing the magic and the general moving of the goal posts whenever it suited the plot frustrating. The sections devoted to the defeat of Bonaparte went on so long I began to feel as if I were experiencing the Napoleonic Wars in real time.

I would however love to read another novel by this author if she switched genres. ( )
  pgchuis | Jun 19, 2017 |
This is one of my all-time favorite books; I am proud to say that I own both the black and white hardcover copies and they have very important spots on their shelf.
Aside from the Harry Potter series, this has to be the most involved, well-written, and intricate of magical plots. Just looking at how big it was, I was very intimidated at first. Like a lot of other British writers, Clark starts her story out fairly slowly, but not without necessary buildup. The reason for the length is not because of fluff and, in all honesty, this novel could easily be split into a three-part series.
However, all of its character arcs, magical arcs, story arcs, and just all-around awesomeness are somehow contained in one giant book full of one giant story. It will scare you, delight you, crush you, and make you wish that it went on for another 700 pages. ( )
  wombatcastle | Jun 14, 2017 |
Book on CD performed by Simon Prebble

From the book jacket: In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight. Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

My Reactions
Fantasy is really not my thing, but I did enjoy this book. I liked the play / counter play between the two magicians, and particularly enjoyed the scenes where they are influencing the Napoleonic Wars ... an armada of ghost ships made of rain! Or moving an entire city to the United States! I also really liked the subplot involving Stephen.

I thought Clarke did a fine job of creating this magical world, peopled with a host of interesting characters. Her writing is very atmospheric and I could almost hear the eerie strains of music at a ball, or the caw of ravens.

That being said, however, this was just way too long. I found my mind wandering as much as the plot did. And by hour 29 (out of 36 hours of audio) I was ready for it to culminate.

I certainly understand the popularity of the novel, but as I said at the beginning, it's really not my thing, and I wouldn't go out of my way to read another novel by Clarke.

I listened to the audio ... I think I would listen to Simon Prebble read his grocery list! He does a marvelous job. 5***** for his performance. ( )
  BookConcierge | Apr 10, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 634 (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
Susanna Clarkeprimary authorall editionscalculated
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."
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(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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