Shoma Patnaik's Reviews > The Ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories by Susanna Clarke
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's review
Aug 25, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, britain, fantasy, supernatural, adventure, historical, not-owned, rural, regency, favourites
Read in August, 2011

I really liked Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell so when I found out that Susanna Clarke has a collection of stories set in the same alternate Britain, I was curious to see whether the magic would work the second time round. I think it does.

The titular story is a good mix of feminism and magic and is the one most directly connected to the novel. I do wish it had been longer though. On Lickerish Hill is a delightful retelling of Rumpelstiltskin: familiar and fun (especially with Miranda's idiosyncratic descriptions of everyone and everything and the lovely quaint language) yet strangely creepy. The fairytale nature of the stories extends to Mrs. Mabb which as the title suggests involves fairies but also a good dose of Austen-style wit: "... he smiled at Venetia as if inviting her to fall in love with him on the spot.". I liked the familiar footnotes and tidbits of information on fairies in Tom Brightwind, or How the Fairy Bridge was Built at Thoresby but the story itself dragged a little. I did love the bit about Tom's social visit to the trees though. My favourite story in the book was Mr Simonelli, or the Fairy Widower. It had a likable and interesting protagonist and I liked the analogies between being a fairy and being a racial "outsider".

I loved Charles Vess' illustrations: they were magical without being too infantile and some of them were powerfully atmospheric such as the ones in The Ladies of Grace Adieu which depicts the ladies meeting Strange and the forest creatures in On Lickerish Hill.

Ms. Clarke has proved again that it is possible to write an intelligent yet absorbingly readable book and I can't wait for her next work.

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