Sarah Bringhurst's Reviews > Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
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Jun 23, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, britain
Read from June 23 to July 02, 2012

This book is an absolute delight: witty, intelligent, exciting, and original.

I am addicted to footnotes (I even like reading annotated critical editions of novels), so I adored the abundant tongue-in-cheek scholarly footnotes in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I also appreciated the length. No matter how quickly you read, you won't be finishing it in an afternoon. At over 1000 pages, there is just so much of this book to love.

The interweaving of real history, 19th century British culture, and wild magic was seamless and satisfying. The characters are fascinating, quirky, and eminently memorable (the male characters, at least. The female characters are decidedly stereotyped and mostly minor. For that reason I would not compare this to a Jane Austen novel, as some have).

The book is full of quotable lines (“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. “I suppose a magician might,” he admitted, “but a gentleman never would.” ) and hilarious scenes, and it's deliciously unpredictable. I'm almost ready to pick it up and read it again.
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Reading Progress

11/02/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Jared (new)

Jared My brother-in-law Dan loves this book. I've put off reading it, though I'm not sure why. Thanks for the superb write-up, as always. I'm putting it back on my "to read" list. ;)


Sarah Bringhurst Did you know the BBC is doing a series based on this book? I watched the first one last week. It wasn't that good, unfortunately, but I'll probably keep watching anyway.


message 3: by Jared (new)

Jared I didn't. That's too bad, they usually do such a great job! What don't you like about it?


Sarah Bringhurst I don't know. It just didn't seem that . . . put together. It felt almost like the actors were poking fun at the book rather than seriously enacting it. But anyway, I'll give it at least another couple of episodes, since I do adore the book.


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