Tag Archives: jonathan strange and mr. norrell

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: For centuries, the study of English magic has been entirely theoretical. Spells have not actually worked in three hundred years or more. Enter Mr. Norrell and later his apprentice Jonathan Strange, who work toward the return of practical English magic at the turn of the 19th century, with somewhat unexpected consequences. I loved this book, but I will be the first to admit it’s not for everyone. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul. And I do mean long: almost 800 pages (though there are a fair number of poorly drawn illustrations thrown in for no discernable reason other than to add heft). It’s also not the sort of story where you can grasp the gist of the plot from the first couple chapters. Rather, you have to simply enjoy what you are presently reading and trust the basic arc of the story will become clear in time. It does, but there are a lot of seemingly spurious asides that don’t appear to have much to do with anything for quite a long time. It’s written more like a history, complete with footnotes, with the author writing with the voice of a contemporary of most of the events described. I found this angle charming and quite convincing, to the point where I almost forgot that people like Martin Pale and John Uskglass never really existed. I will definitely be on the look-out for Clarke’s future novels.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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