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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2004)

by Susanna Clarke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
24,968729106 (3.95)1 / 1127
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. 401
    The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke (billiecat, celtic)
  2. 341
    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. 241
    Little, Big by John Crowley (VisibleGhost)
  4. 231
    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. 212
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (derelicious, jonathankws)
  6. 171
    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.
  7. 226
    Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake (saltmanz)
    saltmanz: Both extrememly atmospheric books, with vivid visuals and memorable characters.
  8. 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.
  9. 183
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (majkia)
    majkia: both books evoked the same sort of feeling for me.
  10. 185
    His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (Rodo)
  11. 185
    The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (clif_hiker)
  12. 141
    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. 187
    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. 100
    Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (jen.e.moore)
  16. 134
    The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G. K. Chesterton (flissp)
  17. 126
    The Prestige by Christopher Priest (Patangel)
  18. 82
    Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (spiphany)
  19. 60
    Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis (Aerrin99)
    Aerrin99: Books which focus on a fascinating historical Britain, but with added fun like magicians and more.
  20. 60
    The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox (Anonymous user)

(see all 61 recommendations)

To Read (12)

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English (710)  French (5)  Japanese (2)  Italian (2)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (2)  All languages (727)
Showing 1-5 of 710 (next | show all)
This is one of the most captivating reads I have come across for some time. It is complex and compelling. It is written in the style of a Victorian novel, which I can see could put some readers off. However if, like me, you grew up reading classical literature this feels very comfortable in style.

It tells the story of two magicians and their attempts to resurrect English magic, a process which inevitably leads to dealings with the fairy folk. Needless to say it does not go quite according to plan.

This book is not a light read, or a quick listen for that matter. I would highly recommend it though because it is superbly well written, well researched and immersive. Just allow plenty of time to soak up the world which Susanna Clarke as created. ( )
  restimson | Jun 22, 2022 |
The attentive reader immediately is presented with a question: two names appear in the title, but the Table of Contents prominently includes three, each serving as a section head for separate parts of the novel. Why include just two in the title, and in reverse sequence from that used to structure the book?

These may seem pedantic questions, and perhaps they are. There are meaningful answers, however, and that this is so, reveals something about both Clarke's care with prose styling and the manner in which certain details in the story are revealed. Much is left to the reader to figure, and not all is revealed to the story's characters.

Overall, an immersive book, as enjoyable upon my second reading as it was originally. Chief reasons for re-reading: its worldbuilding and magic system, its language, the characters (their foibles and their humanity), and to be sure the many inventive scenes and events, whether factual or alt-historical. (Strange's considered efforts to contribute meaningfully in battle against Napoleon's armies encapsulates many of these.) Clarke's alternative history of England and the World are as intriguing as the glimpses she provides into Faery. Perhaps more compelling than all of these, however, is the way Clarke's story embodies the strangeness it tells. It does not proceed along predictable paths, it is slightly odd at many turns, and extremely odd in some few, all the while seeming quite natural, or even necessary, much as Stephen's relationship with the Gentleman With The Thistle-down Hair seemed unable to be any other way, no matter how many queer or frightening happenings were involved.


Curious how close to the broad outlines of Napoleonic Wars Clarke's version hews: are there recognisable battles in the story? Were the Spanish guerilleros a similar force in our history? Was Wellington in Portugal with The Lines? And many similar questions.

Clarke's regular and extensive footnotes are fun, and yet more than a lark: they regularly foreshadow plot / relationships and provide layered world-building as to England's magic history. A favourite example: "Book-murder was a late edition to English magical law. The wilful destruction of a book of magic merited the same punishment as the murder of a Christian." [314, fn 3] Suggests the question: was Norrell's library at Hurtfew tantamount to kidnapping?

The narrator adopts an easy familiarity with the reader, as though a friend or a chatty lecturer, or a particularly well-informed citizen of the day, yet with opinions the reader would not be expected to hold: " ... and, as everybody knows, no one with red hair can ever truly be said to be handsome." [192] My anticipation that the identity of this narrator would be revealed by the end was, ultimately, unfounded.


She did not rise at their entrance, nor make any sign that she had noticed them at all. But perhaps she did not hear them. For, though the room was silent, the silence of half a hundred cats is a peculiar thing, like fifty individual silences all piled one on top of another. [581] ( )
  elenchus | Jun 11, 2022 |
Extraordinary. I loved every single aspect of this book. The plotting is beautiful. The characters are relateable. The ideas are inventive, well-thought out, and completely excite my imagination.

I cannot wait for more from Susanna Clarke. ( )
  AlainaZ | Jun 5, 2022 |
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke (2004)
  sharibillops | May 20, 2022 |
The (softback) edition I have comes in at just over 1000 pages, and this is one of the reasons that it has been sitting on my bookshelf for a number of years now, occasionally glaring at me and daring me to pick it up and read it.[return][return]I am glad that I have read it, and it is not like any book I have read before. Excellent for a first book, there is humour, romance, history (some of which I hope is made up!), and most importantly of all magic, and lots of it. The footnotes are as important as the main text, and all shows an attention to detail that I dont know if the author will ever achieve again, purely for the amount of time this book must have already taken from her.[return][return]The only book I can realistically compare it to (in terms of length, scope etc) is "The Crimson Petal and the White", which I think is another debut novel. Have to admit that whilst I thought "Crimson" finished too soon, in a way I was glad that "Jonathan" did, although I was satisfied with the openness of the ending and the potential of more. ( )
  nordie | Apr 18, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 710 (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 (39 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clarke, SusannaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janiš, ViktorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merla, PaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenberg, PortiaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruben, PaulProducersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Webb, WilliamCover designersecondary 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."
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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Wikipedia in English (3)

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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
Two odd magicians
restore magic to England
and go kind of nuts.
Don't ever make a
deal with a faerie – it will
not end well for you.

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