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The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke

The Ladies of Grace Adieu (edition 2006)

by Susanna Clarke (Author)

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3,6751092,398 (3.87)203
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.
Title:The Ladies of Grace Adieu
Authors:Susanna Clarke (Author)
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2006), Edition: Export ed, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke

  1. 152
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell 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. 15
    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling (norabelle414)

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» See also 203 mentions

English (107)  Hungarian (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (110)
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
Well now. After having successfully avoided reading Susanna Clarke's short fantasy collection for a decade and a half after having loved [b:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|14201|Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|Susanna Clarke|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1357027589l/14201._SY75_.jpg|3921305], I finally guilted myself into picking up the damn book and giving it a go.

Why so trepidatious? Because I thought nothing could top JS & Mr. N. And indeed, this does NOT top JS & Mr. N. Rather, it deepens it.

I really shouldn't have worried. :) Clarke's beautiful language, great charm, and naughty Faries are all in evidence here. We get shorts including Strange and many of the personages we loved from the novel, places reminiscent but not directly tied to the novel, call-outs to all Regency literature, Irish folktales, and best of all, throughout every story, is the CHARM. Let me stress this: Charm.

I read every one of these with a silly, easygoing grin.

Now that's some REAL English magic. ( )
1 vote bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
I recently reread The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories as part of a book project that I am preparing on Susanna Clarke's work. Although the research I have already done helped give me a better perspective on this book, it didn't change my overall opinion of it. Clarke is without question a master stylist who exercises immaculate control over her stories, but the reality is that, with the exception of the title story, this collection is an unsatisfying grab-bag of narratives that promise much while delivering little.

1. The Ladies of Grace Adieu

The Ladies of Grace Adieu provides the much-needed counter-narrative to [b:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|14201|Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell|Susanna Clarke|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1357027589l/14201._SY75_.jpg|3921305], a world in which magic is given a feminine aspect that, most importantly, operates in an invisible and unauthorized channel. The story itself is tangential to Clarke's novel, taking place during a gap in the narrative when Jonathan and Arabella Strange go off to visit her brother, Henry Woodhope. At its center are three women - Mrs. Field (the mistress), Miss Tobias (a local governess), and Cassandra Parbringer (Mr. Field's nice and ward) - who together make up a kind of magical coven. Miss Tobias is the governess of two young orphans, Ursula and Flora, whose perfidious uncle, Captain Arthur Winbright, sometimes comes to visit; it is apparent that he is intent on stealing their inheritance. Thus, when Captain Winbright and his friend, Frederick Littleworth come to visit, Mrs. Field and Cassandra transform into owls and devour the two (presumably) evil men, leaving behind nothing but some small, mouse-like bones. Later in the story, Jonathan Strange goes out in the night and encounters the three women. He tells them he knows the magical murder they have committed, but they in turn chastise him for his lack of belief in the Raven King: when he has their belief and power, perhaps then he can take them on. The story concludes with Henry Woodhope receiving a rich living elsewhere, so that he breaks off his attachment to Cassandra, who was never really interested in him anyway.

2. On Lickerish Hill

On Lickerish Hill is Clarke's retelling of the English fairy tale "Tom Tit Tot." Miranda Sowreston is married to John Sowreston, on the misunderstanding that she can sew enormous amounts of flax. John likes to hunt on Lickerish Hill, where the fairies (referred to as "pharisees") are, and he also employs four scholars for his entertainment, who try to conjure the magic folk. Only Miranda is successful in doing this, and she makes a bargain with one to do the sewing for her. In exchange, he must guess her name. She manages to do this at the last minute, when the scholars overhear him singing about his name while he is sewing for her.

3. Mrs. Mabb

Venetia Moore is being courted by the handsome Captain Fox, but one day he suddenly disappears, having fallen into the clutches of the strange and beautiful Mrs. Mabb. Venetia goes to live with her sister, Mrs. Fanny Hawkins, whose lack of money makes Venetia's failure to secure a marriage particularly vexing. On three different occasions, Venetia is prompted to visit Mrs. Mabb's house and confront her, but each time she loses her memory and wakes up at home, in bed, being cared for her sister and brother-in-law. After the third time, Mrs. Mabb gives up, and so Venetia meets Captain Fox in the woods and brings him out of his enchantment. He swears he has been gone only one day, when in reality is has been four months.

4. The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse

Set in the world of Neil Gaiman's [b:Stardust|16793|Stardust|Neil Gaiman|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1459127484l/16793._SY75_.jpg|3166179], Clarke's story tells the story of how the Duke of Wellington's horse, Copenhagen, wanders into the land of Faerie. The Duke follows him, encountering a strange woman who appears to be weaving the future. When she shows him that a knight is coming to kill him, the Duke is frightened, until he remembers that he has a pair of scissors that he took from the owner of the hotel where he was staying. Using the scissors, he cuts out the danger from the embroidery, and then crudely organizes the future he wants, allowing him to return with his horse to the other side. Later he ponders the extent to which he is a stick figure being woven into history.

5. Mr. Simonelli, or The Fairy Widower

Alessandro Simonelli, a scholar at Cambridge, is manipulated by one Dr. Prothero to take up a living at a place called Allhope. Upon his arrival, he is immediately asked by two strange men to assist in the birth of a child, and so he goes to Allhope House, where he delivers the baby but fails to save the life of the mother. The master of the house, John Hollyshoes, realizes that Simonelli must have fairy blood, because he is able to see through the enchantments of the house. Simonelli returns to Allhope, where he learns that his living is a poor one, but that he will have the comfort of Mrs. Gathercole's five daughters. In the meantime, a young mother named Dido Puddifer abandons her child and disappears - presumably kidnapped by John Hollyshoes to look after his own newborn son. A visit to Allhope House confirms his suspicions, and Hollyshoes then outlines plans to marry one of the Gathercole daughters. Wishing to save the lives of his friends, Simonelli proposes to all the Gathercoles, on the condition they keep the engagement secret. Then, when Hollyshoes is turned down by all of them, Simonelli confronts him and kills the wicked fairy.

6. Tom Brightwind, or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby

The Jewish magician David Montefiore is called upon to attend his sick friend, Mr. Monkton, in Lincoln, and so he embarks on a journey there with his fairy companion, Tom Brightwind. Upon crossing the river at Thoresby, they are called upon by a lawyer, Pewley Witts, to pay a fee. Protesting, they are brought to the mayor, Mr. Winstanley, who regales them with tales of woe about how the town has been held back by its lack of a bridge. Tom Brightwind sees an opportunity and offers to build the bridge in one night, using his magic to do so. He also impregnates Mrs. Winstanley with a son, who will reap the rewards of this project. Unfortunately, the bridge does not behave quite as it is supposed to - it crosses over into Rome, for instance - and the son, Lucius, eventually wanders off in search of other adventures.

7. Antickes and Frets

Mary Queen of Scots is sentenced to house arrest at the home of the Count and Countess of Shrewsbury. From there, she sends Queen Elizabeth clothes endowed with magic that she hopes will bring her revenge. The plan backfires, however, and she is put to death for treason.

8. John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner

John Uskglass, the Raven King, goes out hunting, and in the process his animals ruin the home of a lowly charcoal burner. The charcoal burner seeks revenge by visiting a saint, who in turn punishes John Uskglass. The king returns to the charcoal burner twice more, convinced that the humble man must possess some great magic, when it is only the power of the saints being deployed. Eventually the king restores the man's property and avoids Cumbria until he is sure that the charcoal burner is dead.

As I said, of these eight stories, only "The Ladies of Grace Adieu" is satisfying in any way - the rest feel unfinished, incomplete, as Clarke does not really know quite what to do with them. Certainly none of them close to what she achieves in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Of course, that is not a fair comparison, but you get do get the sense that Clarke is capable of producing something much better than what is on offer here. ( )
  vernaye | May 23, 2020 |
4.5 stars ( )
  the_lirazel | Apr 6, 2020 |
Set in the same world of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, this is a collection of short stories. The introduction to the volume by the character Professor James Sutherland considers who wrote them and of the current state of magic within Great Britain, and just how much the faerie world can influence the regular world.

There are a number of different stories in here, from the tale called On Lickerish Hill, where a lady resorts to magic to spin enough flax to satisfy her husbands demands. There is a cameo appearance of the village from Stardust in the story where The Duke of Wellington crosses the wall to find his horse. There are stories of how a faerie bridge was made, and of love lost and gained.

I wasn’t keen on every story, but there were some good ones. Particularly liked On Lickerish Hill, the Stardust one, and the one with John Usglass or the Raven King. Worth reading for those that enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
The title story is excellent, although it took me a couple of reads to understand what actually happened. The rest of the stories are fine, but not spectacular. Most are based off of pre-existing fairytales, such as Rumpelstiltskin, which I found unoriginal. I was disappointed that the one story about the Raven King was a fairly derivative story that the book itself said was likely fanciful rubbish. So much is hinted about the Raven King in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and I was hoping to gain more insight into this mysterious character. No luck, as it turns out. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 107 (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
Clarke, Susannaprimary authorall 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.

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An anthology
of faery-themed short stories –
Charles Vess illustrates.

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