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The Ladies of Grace Adieu

by Susanna Clarke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,7671142,435 (3.88)211
Presents an anthology of stories set in a mysterious, fantastical version of England populated by petulant princesses, vengeful owls, and endless paths in the dark woods, and features the Duke of Wellington and other colorful characters.
  1. 162
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (billiecat, celtic)
  2. 100
    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. 90
    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. 15
    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling (norabelle414)

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» See also 211 mentions

English (111)  Hungarian (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (115)
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(Note: This review originally appeared as part of a series of capsule reviews of illustrated novels, hence the focus on the art)

Clarke’s second book was better served in the illustration and design departments
than Jonathan Strange. The Ladies of Grace Adieu is bound with embossed,
printed cloth boards, and is delicately illustrated by Charles Vess, a veteran artist
who specializes in a sort of wistful, arcane drawing in the vein of Arthur
Rackham and others from the “Golden Age of Illustration” at the turn of the last
century. His dark, fantastical images are an excellent complement to Clarke’s
prose. While I do like to see more tension between the style of the prose and the
illustrations, sometimes it is the right choice to create a seamless collaboration
such as this one. ( )
  francoisvigneault | May 17, 2021 |
I had a really challenging time reading Clarke's first novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel, but once I had acclimatized to her writing style and got into the story (after three tries) I quite enjoyed it. I knew what I was in for this time around, so it was practically effortless getting caught up in this collection of stories. Each explores a case a magical happenings during Clarke's alternate Victorian era, so we get a range of characters and adventures that is more varied than in the lengthy narrative of Strange and Norrel. Many of the stories also feature female characters and magicians prominently, so we get away from the political and military aspects that seem to dominate the male magicians of the day. Poor men, it seems, as the sorceresses surely have more fun with their conjuring, shapeshifting, and general trickery. The men may try to keep them in bounds (in typical Victorian fashion), but as the ladies of Grace Adieu state when faced with the (all be it soft) wrath of Jonathan Strange: "you cannot even reconcile what you believe in your heart to be true and what we are obliged to write in the quarterly reviews" and to not return to challenge them until he has figured himself out. He may be the second greatest magicianof the age, but he is no match for women who know themselves and who know their power! ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Probably closer to 4.5, but I'm erring on the side of caution. This feels a lot like the brilliant light of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell filtered through a prism - each story captures a little of what made that book so great, but also filters it in its own way. Highlights include the title story, which is a stark, discomfiting answer to "Where are all the female magicians in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell?" (though not in the way you might expect), "Tom Brightwind", which features the return of Clarke's signature digressive footnotes, and "John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner", which is a hilarious ending to the otherwise relatively staid collection. I think there are a few of these that are too light for their own good ("Mrs. Mabb" feels like something of a missed opportunity, and "Anticks and Frets" feels more like an outline than a proper story), but overall this is a really great treat after reading the big feast of Strange & Norrell. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
2020-I tried to listen on digital audio. The first short story is narrated by the fabulous Davina Porter The story switches between characters, there are paragraph breaks in the physical book but the audiobook just chugs on. Between no warnings when we are switching POVs, the difficult dialect & accents, I have to stop the audiobook and wait until I can read the physical book which I already own.

~The Ladies of Grace Adieu (1996) novelette
~On Lickerish Hill (1997) novelette
~Mrs Mabb (1998) novelette
~The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse (1999) short story
~Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy Widower (2000) novella
~Tom Brightwind, or, How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby (2001) novelette
~Antickes and Frets (2004) short story free here: https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/31/opinion/antickes-and-frets1.html?_r=0
~John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner (2006) short story
  Seayla2020 | Nov 21, 2020 |
A collection of short stories, largely set in the same world as [Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell] (Jonathan Strange even makes an appearance in the title story).

I somehow was unaware of the existence of this collection until recently and am delighted to discover it. If you enjoy JSaMN, then these tales will be highly appreciated. The tales all have the same flavour of menace from a Faerie that humans never quite respect enough, with occasional glimpses of fantastic magic, all with a cloak of Regency respectability. Also, for Neil Gaiman fans, one of Clarke's tales involves the Duke of Wellington accidentally crossing over into Wall from [Stardust], which is a wonderful short story. Recommended for fans of Clarke's writing. ( )
  MickyFine | Nov 4, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 111 (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 (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clarke, Susannaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Borner, PetraCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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
First words
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.
The governess was not much liked in the village. She was too tall, too fond of books, too grave, and, a curious thing, never smiled unless there was something to smile at.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Presents an anthology of stories set in a mysterious, fantastical version of England populated by petulant princesses, vengeful owls, and endless paths in the dark woods, and features the Duke of Wellington and other colorful characters.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
An anthology
of faery-themed short stories –
Charles Vess illustrates.

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