seak's Reviews > Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
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's review
Dec 15, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: top-12-fantasy

Great stuff. Hilariously dry. This book was just amazing. The prose was beautiful and the footnotes were just brilliant. I can't believe this was Ms. Clarke's first novel because it was so beautifully written.

It's definitely a pretty slow read, so if you're in the mood for something that builds more on the characters and the magic and less on actual plot movement, this is for you. You really have to be in the mood for it so get your quick reads out of the way and be ready to be stunned.
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Quotes seak Liked

Susanna Clarke
“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 could.”
Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Susanna Clarke
“There is nothing in the world so easy to explain as failure - it is, after all, what everybody does all the time.”
Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Reading Progress

December 15, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
December 31, 2008 – Finished Reading
October 14, 2012 – Shelved as: top-12-fantasy

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Bob (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bob Milne Dry is right, but the hilarious was largely lost on me. I really wanted to like this one, so much so that I persevered long after I wanted to kick it to the DNF pile. I think if it had been 25% shorter, with a better pace, it might have worked.

seak I have to admit, I listened to the audiobook and it's amazingly well-done. I need to actually read the paper version, but I'm sure it will always be tainted. I think it's one where you love everything that's going on or you hate it if that makes sense.

message 3: by Richard (last edited Jan 18, 2012 01:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Richard This book is so good I'm at a loss to know what superlative to apply to it. What hooked me was the 19th century ambiance of the thing. It's like Austen, Dickens, and maybe a few others all mixed together.

However, it does seem to be one of those books that doesn't appeal to some people. I'm not quite sure why. But I lent vol. 1 to a friend who was intrigued by my description. She kept it for ages, tried repeatedly to get into it, and handed it back in defeat.

There also seems to be a sort of dark undercurrent to it, which is not bad dramatically, but which I did find unsettling. However, that is a sign of the narrator's skill. (Ceridwen's review expresses this better than I just did.)

All in all, it is a brilliant book and a virtuoso performance.

message 4: by seak (last edited Jan 18, 2012 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

seak I completely agree, Richard.

I gave this to my mom and she just couldn't make it through like very many people.

Elaine I agree too. I toatally loved it and it set me on a quest to read more books by Susannah Clarke. shes so very different from other fantasy writers. Luckily many of my friends loved it too

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

It's interesting how sometimes an audio book can totally make or break the story. I listened to "Good Omens" on audio and absolutely loved it. I don't think I would have liked it as much if I had read it. I noticed several people were annoyed by all the footnotes and tangents, but Martin Jarvis did such an amazing job narrating I never noticed or got bored. I've wanted to read this one for a long time, but I keep putting it off. I'll have to bump it up on my list =D

Steve Wasling I know what you mean about hilarious. I particularly liked the stuff about the Spanish being a bit miffed when Mr Strange was re-arranging their country!

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