Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Posted by on Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Having been essentially beaten over the head with hints about how much I would love this book, I finally bought it.  All 900 pounds of it.  And then fell for it, and was forced to lug it around on the Metro, ignoring my sock-knitting (yes, I do still knit) and hoping for delays on the tracks. 

The most accurate description I’ve heard of this novel is Jane Austen plus Harry Potter plus Tolkein.  I’d also throw in a bit of White’s The Once and Future King.

The novel is set roughly during the years of the Napoleonic wars.  Both title characters are magicians; one a young man who stumbles into a career he didn’t expect he would ever be interested in, the other an older man who jealously guards both his books and his career, trying to prevent others from reading too much about or practicing magic.  Hilarity ensues.  I don’t want to say much about the plot, of course, because plot matters a lot in books like this. 

I was really impressed by Clarke’s writing.  It’s hard to maintain any sort of style over this long of a book.  Her characters are engaging, the mythology of the book is intriguing, and she seems to have a good sense of both the period she is writing about and the bounds of fantasy we slightly-snootier fantasy readers will accept. 

I’m a bit lost over what to think of them making a movie of the novel.  I know they’re going to.  I just don’t see how they can . . . it’s so long. 

Filed in Books | 3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell”

  1. minnieon 25 Sep 2006 at 2:07 pm 1

    thanks for the recommendation! my library has it, so i’ve requested it. i’m always on the lookout for good books, just my library seems to mostly stick with bubblegum popularity, sigh.

  2. Annieon 01 Oct 2006 at 10:24 pm 2

    Running BACK to Amazon!!

  3. Rebeccaon 08 Oct 2006 at 8:22 am 3

    Catching up on old posts… I am reading this book now, the only disadvantage is its size makes it hard to bring on planes, buses, etc. It is a really fun book, it’s hard to describe the style, but it’s just so enjoyable.

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