Thoughts on: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

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Yes, I've read a magic book. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Nor­rellby Susanna Clarke is a fic­tional book about magi­cians set in 1800s England.

  • 800 pages
  • Pub­lisher: Blooms­bury USA
  • ISBN-10: 1582346038

My rat­ing for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Nor­rell5

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I usu­ally don’t read books about magic, but when Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, rec­om­mended Jonathan Strange & Mr. Nor­rell by Susanna Clarke, which was on sale for the day, I grabbed it up immediately.

The novel sur­prised me. It was excel­lent, funny and imag­i­na­tive yet not cross­ing into the land of unpro­nounce­able names, fan­tas­tic crea­tures and geog­ra­phy so con­vo­luted my sim­ple mind can­not process it.

As in any inter­est­ing book, this one also has lay­ers which allow the reader to think about and explore. Jeal­ousy, friend­ship, envy, love, arro­gance and, of course, redemp­tion are all touched upon by this most inter­est­ing book.

The way Ms. Clarke has recre­ated Eng­land was, to me, one of the high­lights of the book. In a style rem­i­nis­cent of Mr. Gaiman she describes, with wit and clar­ity, seedy par­lors, streets, build­ings and houses both of rich and poor. The char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of peo­ple within the story is bril­liant, often funny and able to cre­ate an image.

The walls of the par­lour were orna­mented with cheap engrav­ings — por­traits of famous crim­i­nals of the last cen­tury who had all been hanged and por­traits of the King's dis­solute sons who had not been hanged yet.”

[N]ot been hanged yet” – don’t you love that?

The story is told by an anony­mous nar­ra­tor who is writ­ing a his­tory book about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Nor­rell, com­plete with foot­notes and anno­ta­tions. The foot­notes were some of my favorite parts of the book even though they add very lit­tle to the story, how­ever they bring the book to a whole new level and add sev­eral dimen­sions to it. Full of his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences, sto­ries and brief char­ac­ter­i­za­tions these foot­notes are a delight.

Books in a sim­i­lar vein:
The Gates by John Con­nolly
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
The Shadow of the Wind by Car­los Ruiz Zafón
We, The Drowned by Carsten Jensen
Sud­denly in the Depths of the For­est by Amos Oz

So tell me, have you read any good books about magic?

Eng­lish magi­cians, once world renowned, are stag­nant in the 1800s and have lost their abil­ity to per­form magic. How­ever, the reclu­sive Mr. Nor­rell of Hurt­few Abbey in York­shire has been col­lect­ing old and for­got­ten Eng­lish magic books.

Rais­ing a woman from the dead, Mr. Nor­rell soon finds him­self at the ser­vice of the gov­ern­ment fight­ing the French. Every­thing turns on its head when the hand­some and charm­ing Jonathan Strange, a rival magi­cian, appears. Strange makes a name for him­self dur­ing a cam­paign with Lord Welling­ton. How­ever it is soon obvi­ous that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell’s idea of what exactly “magic” is or ought to be are very different.

Buy & Save on Jonathan Strange & Mr. Nor­rell
through the
ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on:
Ama­zon | Kin­dle | Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK

More books by Susanna Clarke

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I bought this book.
Arti­cle first pub­lished as Book Review: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Nor­rell by Susanna Clarke on Blogcritics.

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