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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
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Group Reads Discussions 2016 > "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell" - First Thoughts *No Spoilers*

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

Kim | 1504 comments What are your first impressions?


Sarah | 3877 comments I found that this one increased in interest over time for me. It literally went from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 stars throughout the book. The last twenty or thirty percent I had a cast and soundtrack going in my head because I was so enthusiastic. Overall I loved it but it took a bit to get there. I loved Jonathan Strange in particular.

I did end up at for stars because an amazing 20% didn't equal some of the boredom on the way. It's worth pushing through.


message 3: by Trike (last edited Jan 31, 2016 10:37PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Trike | 4473 comments The writing just wasn't my style.


message 4: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 341 comments On my first reading, soon after the book was published, I fell in love with the footnotes!


message 5: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim | 1504 comments Trike wrote: "The writing just wasn't my style."

I have to admit I'm struggling at the moment.


Karen (librarykatz) | 205 comments I'm listening to the book, narrated by Simon Pegg. Great voice, fits into the serious quirkiness. One thing that I'm really having to get used to are the footnotes. It sometimes interrupts the flow of the story.

Otherwise, I'm looking forward to getting further into it.


message 7: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 341 comments Yes, I've always wondered how they'd handle the footnotes in other formats!


David Haws | 410 comments I’m about a third in and can see Gaiman’s influence. I’m not getting a strong sense of Georgian England, but think it was a bold choice for setting. I like the footnotes (I’m an academic by profession) and am beginning to think that this might be a good way for prolix authors to sidetrack their natural desire to info-dump.


Mary Catelli | 791 comments Liking the footnotes is an excellent thing when the plot takes a while to get going. 0:)


Sarah | 3877 comments I've heard that the footnotes are really weird on the audio. It probably takes some getting used to.


Kimberley | 4 comments I tried to read the book when it first came out but gave up. Very intrigued about Simon Pegg's narration. I've got the book to read but am now thinking about listening to it! :)


message 12: by Ryan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ryan Marsh (ryan_arash) | 9 comments I'm about a quarter of the way in. Took a while to get used to the tone created by her language but I've started to get immersed and it no longer feels the least bit contrived. I love how richly detailed the setting is and find it interesting that the medieval history is completely alternative while the 'current' war with France is so truly depicted.


message 13: by Aidan (new)

Aidan Marshall | 20 comments After i have completed part 1 of the book, it seemed like everything in the book actually happened. It seems like the book has it's own history of some sort. It's very... magicial! ;)


message 14: by Bill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill (kernos) | 426 comments 1st impression is The Modern Victorian Novel.


message 15: by Barry (last edited Feb 01, 2016 05:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barry (boprawira) | 53 comments Well, I read this last year, but I'll join the discussion. My first impressions when I first read the book:

1. damn, this author actually took the time to make fake footnotes. not, just reference to fake books, but actual fake historical events. gotta appreciate the effort and thoroughness here

2. the pace is a bit slow, but it's aligned with mr. norrell's personality. yes, it's a struggle in the beginning, but at the end i truly enjoyed the book.


Lara Amber (laraamber) | 665 comments I'm on the waitlist for the ebook from my library, but I had to ask a question.

Did anyone else keep thinking the title was Jonathan Strange and Mrs. Norrell? My brain kept trying to change it.


Barry (boprawira) | 53 comments lol. My brain doesn't twist the title that way. But, it kept telling me the title is : Jonathan Norrell and Mr. Strange. Because to me Mr. Norrell is the stranger one.


Kristine (leggygal) | 1 comments I read this one about 5 years ago and absolutely loved it. The recent TV adaptation was interesting too and certainly worth checking out once you've read the enormous tome. If it isn't your cup of tea it would make an excellent door stop.


Beachesnbooks | 124 comments I read this awhile ago and it's one of my favorites. The things I remember first really enjoying about it were the footnotes (I have a weakness for footnotes), the historical setting, and Jonathan Strange's character once he shows up. I'm very curious about the miniseries, I haven't seen it yet.


Amanda (tnbooklover) | 25 comments I read this last year and I really liked it. It did take a while to get going and there were definitely some slow parts but overall I thought I was great.


Just Elise (justelise) | 17 comments I haven't gotten very far yet, but I'm finding it very intriguing so far. The writing style seems as if were intended for children, yet the dryness and heaviness of so much detail (and footnotes) mix in an odd way with that. The story is definitely holding my interest so far. It just seems a little bogged down. Not horribly so - I just feel like I'm trudging through pretty slowly.

I have yet to watch the miniseries - I wanted to read it first.

I didn't realize Simon Pegg narrated the audiobook. I think I may try to get that.


message 22: by Karen (new) - rated it 1 star

Karen (librarykatz) | 205 comments GWAA! I totally goofed. It's Simon Prebble, not Simon Pegg. Sorry for the misinformation. *sadface*


message 23: by Ada (new)

Ada | 60 comments Kim wrote: "Trike wrote: "The writing just wasn't my style."

I have to admit I'm struggling at the moment."


I have troubles with this too. So I'm reading it so very slowly...


Sarah | 3877 comments Yeah, it's that kind of book. I think it's really worth it though. I was thinking yesterday that this and Leviathan are well matched this month since that is a quick and fun read and this one is slow and steady.


Veronica  (readingonthefly) It's slow to get going so I can see how it would put a lot of people off. I just loved the use of language from the start. I'm about a third of the way in and things are picking up.


Just Elise (justelise) | 17 comments Karen wrote: "GWAA! I totally goofed. It's Simon Prebble, not Simon Pegg. Sorry for the misinformation. *sadface*"

Aww, Karen, you got us (me, anyway) all excited! Haha that's pretty funny, really. Thanks for the correction - I'm sure you've prevented a lot of confusion and exasperation. :) Regardless of the narrator, I may still try the audiobook.

Maybe you're onto something - if Simon Pegg doesn't narrate any audiobooks, he probably should. :)


message 27: by Greg (new)

Greg Sarah wrote: "I found that this one increased in interest over time for me. It literally went from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 stars throughout the book. The last twenty or thirty percent I had a cast and soundtrack going ..."

I agree with all of this Sarah - I got more and more pulled into it as the story progressed, and the last 20-30% was utterly fantastic! It was very long, and it never exactly dragged ... but in the beginning it did feel a little slow.

I found the footnotes and fake history clever, and l grew to quite like Jonathan Strange.


message 28: by Greg (new)

Greg Elise H wrote: "I haven't gotten very far yet, but I'm finding it very intriguing so far. The writing style seems as if were intended for children, yet the dryness and heaviness of so much detail (and footnotes) m..."

Keep going Elise, it does eventually pick up! By the end it was a page turner, at least for me.

And just my opinion .. I'd definitely finish the book before you watch the miniseries. Since the book is a fairly big time investment, you might not want to spoil some of the big reveals!


Sarah | 3877 comments I loved Jonathan Strange :) I became very attached to him.


Silvana (silvaubrey) | 1506 comments I DNFed this a few years back, maybe around 1/3. Tried to watch the TV series but got bored after the second episode. Does the story get better? As in more fast paced?


message 31: by Klaymen (new)

Klaymen | 1 comments In short, it's the most beautiful excess of form over substance I've read in a while.


message 32: by Greg (new)

Greg Silvana wrote: "I DNFed this a few years back, maybe around 1/3. Tried to watch the TV series but got bored after the second episode. Does the story get better? As in more fast paced?"

In the book, definitely! It picks up pace tremendously, but it takes quite a while before it does that.


message 33: by Bill (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill (kernos) | 426 comments Klaymen wrote: "In short, it's the most beautiful excess of form over substance I've read in a while."

I think there is a lot of substance, very British and English substance, the North vs the South, eg.


Just Elise (justelise) | 17 comments Greg wrote: "Keep going Elise, it does eventually pick up! By the end it was a page turner, at least for me.

And just my opinion .. I'd definitely finish the book before you watch the miniseries. ..."


Thanks, Greg! That's definitely my plan. :) I haven't gotten nearly annoyed enough with it to think about putting it aside - and there are too many people who say it's well worth finishing, so I think if I reach that point, that's when I'll hunt down the audiobook.

And I look forward to watching the miniseries! I'm really weird about spoilers, so there's no way I'll watch it until I've finished reading. :)

I appreciate all of the input about it. I'm getting more excited about seeing the story unfold, even if it takes a while to get there. :)


David Haws | 410 comments It does feel British it just doesn't feel Georgian as opposed to Victorian or Edwardian, and the reactions to Stephen Black feel more modern than 19th Century.


message 36: by Hank (new) - rated it 1 star

Hank (hankenstein) | 716 comments I will echo Trike's comment, be polite and say it wasn't my type of book.


message 37: by Judy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Judy (judygreeneyes) | 104 comments I started this book late last year with high hopes, but it went on forever going nowhere, and I gave up on it. I rarely do that.


message 38: by Kateb (new)

Kateb | 757 comments Judy wrote: "I started this book late last year with high hopes, but it went on forever going nowhere, and I gave up on it. I rarely do that."

It seems Trike, Hank , David and now Judy agree with me. I was feeling that maybe I should try and force myself to read the rest of the book, but thank goodness some other people gave up.

Like Judy I rarely give up, but really there are so many interesting books waiting to be read. Although this one will be in my sister's field of interest .
so each to their own


Sarah | 3877 comments I don't think I've ever seen anyone have a neutral reaction to this book.


David Haws | 410 comments I’m close to the mid-point and do think the book’s worth reading. I don’t usually give up on a book (or walk out on a movie). I see that I have 4 abandon books with Goodreads. Three were too crappy to finish. The fourth was in Japanese and I decided the kanji was just beyond me. So far, I was impressed enough to buy the GS & MN mini-series. I think my main complaint would be that, if I were reading it as a comedy, the extensive ramp up (which seems typical with British humor, at least to me) has a tendency to obfuscate the joke. There are some priceless lines: "She poked the thread viciously into the needle's innocent eye..."


Jennifer | 179 comments I want to kill Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norell. Seriously.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 436 comments Started this book today.


message 43: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim | 1504 comments I'm about a quarter through it now and it is improving.


message 44: by Kateb (new)

Kateb | 757 comments I was told to check my comment and I had put worth reading not wasn't worth reading, sorry.

I had another skim and still not worth reading, so many other books around.


message 45: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 341 comments I want to kill Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norell. Seriously.

The book or the characters? :)


Amber Littleton (amber_littleton) | 28 comments I'm not too far in, only about 10%. It is definitely dragging for me; however, I do really like it. A lot of work clearly went into world building, which I always appreciate, and I love the footnotes. I'm enjoying what I'm reading, but it just doesn't seem to hold my interest for very long. I'll keep pushing through!


Kristin B. Bodreau (krissy22247) | 599 comments I tried to read this book once before as part of another Book Club. There were about 10 of us, and only one of the members actually managed to finish it. She wasn't very thrilled. When I told her I had joined a new book club, and this was one of the first books I would be reading, she laughed and basically said it was punishment for not reading it when she did. I can see that we weren't alone in having trouble with it. The first time I attempted to read it I only got through the first chapter.

However, before I started reading it again I found a review on Amazon that helped me appreciate it more. The reviewer emphasized that the real enjoyment of the book was in the way it was written. I am very interested in writing style and will often read a book that wouldn't usually interest me as long as it's well written. Conversely, I will discard a book with a fascinating story if the writing is juvenile or poorly executed.

Now that I am focusing more on the way the story is written, instead of the events, I actually find that I am enjoying it much more than I did in my first attempt. There is definitely a dry British wit to it that I have always been fond of.

I imagine that this will never be my favorite book but, looking at it from this new angle is making it more palatable.


message 48: by Tad (new) - added it

Tad (tottman) | 159 comments I couldn't finish this one when I picked it up a few years ago. I made it a couple hundred pages but it was just not working. Couldn't make it beyond the first episode of the tv series either. The story just doesn't work for me.


Jennifer | 179 comments Margaret wrote: " I want to kill Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norell. Seriously.

The book or the characters? :)"


The characters. Slowly. Kill them.


message 50: by Mary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary Catelli | 791 comments What, you don't think they are marvelously charming folks?

Stephen Black, OTOH, I like.


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