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BotM Discussion - FANTASY > Part 1 of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - ***Spoilers for Part 1 only***

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message 1: by Maria Hill (new)

Maria Hill AKA MH Books (mariahilldublin) Let's face it this is both:
1. A very large book that may take some time for some of us slower readers
and
2. A bit of a marmite book - that means people seem to love or hate it and some people DNF as a result.

So I thought it would be fun to post comments for part 1 or about 25% the way through.

What do you think of the writing style? Personally, I love it. It reminds me of reading EN Nesbit books as a kid. Especially when the narrator speaks directly too you. Her sense of humour is adorable.

Do you think you will continue on or DNF? I will be continuing and I am expecting it to be a high star ranking by the end, But there is still plenty of the book to go and so time will tell.


message 2: by Paul, A wanderer in unknown realms (new)

Paul | 3571 comments Mod
For the length of this book I actually read it twice, and maybe not the time for a third.
Personally I really enjoyed it despite the slow pacing, at this stage of the book the actions of Mr Norell in eliminating all other 'practitioners' in coming into the public light is very well done.
The book is a slow burner but personally I thought it was worth it, but I can see how it would lose others.


message 3: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 1324 comments This is my second attempt at reading it. The language is very much in the vein of classic literature (which I do enjoy but wasn’t expecting when I first picked it up.) The characters speak over formally, and the excitement is inferred instead of narrated.


message 4: by Maria Hill (new)

Maria Hill AKA MH Books (mariahilldublin) It's rather funnier than I expected, with some tongue in cheek comments about what it is to be a proper English gentleman and of course, only Gentlemen can be magicians.


message 5: by Margo (new)

Margo Maria I loved the book first time around and will attempt a second read - some of the story I did find hard going, but we will get to that, so I reserve the right to skip bits this time around ;-p

I think that the start was my favorite part initially. I was sucked into the story very quickly but that was 5 years ago - I have difficulty remembering what I read last week!

I will probably start today.


message 6: by Maria Hill (new)

Maria Hill AKA MH Books (mariahilldublin) Are you reading on audio Margo? I find it really hard to skip/skim in that format.

Last year I read The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan on audio and there are parts of it that are really really overwritten and yet there are parts of it that were beautiful. I felt it was one of those books I would have preferred in its written form.


message 7: by Margo (new)

Margo I'm listening Maria ☺

30 min in to 32.5 hour narration! I'm not really how I will go about skimming it as it is not something I usually do. I will probably skip chapters later on.

One great thing about this book, which I had forgotten, is the foot notes. In many audiobooks (Prattchet to name but one) footnotes are ignored! In this narration they are read in full where and when they occur in the text. This is important as a lot of humor is put into them.

Re style: to me it has a similar feel to Philip Pullmans Oxford. There is a sense of tradition, of heavy furniture and the scent of it in the air. I think the way thr author brings in bits of cultural references from our world (ie Mrs Radely, queen Anne architecture) reinforces that similarity. It is so long since I read Five Children and It that I don't remember much about it. Great book though - maybe that will be my fantasy nomination next month 😉


message 8: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 9 comments According to the internet, the prose is most influenced by Jane Austen. Clarke was definitely going for an 1800s style. Personally, the dialogue reminded me of P.G. Wodehouse, but I'm alone on that.

If I recall correctly, there are in-text references to Ann Radcliffe, so I would assume that she was an influence as well.

The book was originally marketed as, "Harry Potter for grown-ups," which most people agree served it poorly.

The footnotes seem to be the breaking point for readers who DNF. Personally, I love them. I guess people who want a fast-paced high-drama story find them boring. As a reader, I tend to be more interested in theme and less interested in character, so they suited me well.


message 9: by Margo (new)

Margo Apologies, typo. I meant Mrs Radcliffe.


message 10: by Maria Hill (new)

Maria Hill AKA MH Books (mariahilldublin) Phil wrote: "According to the internet, the prose is most influenced by Jane Austen. Clarke was definitely going for an 1800s style. Personally, the dialogue reminded me of P.G. Wodehouse - so this is comparatively easy to work with.

I fully understand those that don't like this though. It really is a very definite matter of taste!



message 11: by Fannie (new)

Fannie D'Ascola | 499 comments I am at 46% right now (as per my ereader) and I will finish it. For now, it's going to be a 3 stars book, but everything could change at that early stage.

The writing is beautiful, but I find Mr Norrell very dull. I prefer the parts with Stephen and Mr Strange.


message 12: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 9 comments Norrell is one of my favorite unlikeable characters to root for. He's doing important stuff! He's serious! Someone's got to advance the art of magic! We can't all be playboys, running about willy nilly, someone's got to keep things respectable!


message 13: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 9 comments Also: Frank Chalmers might be my favorite character in Red Mars.


message 14: by Margo (new)

Margo LOL Mr Norrell is about as far from a playboy as you can get!

Like Phil though, I have a grudging respect for his work ethic! The character is beautifully written that it is impossible to dislike him.

Maria mentioned earlier the way that the author speaks directly to the reader. I think for me this is one of the things that makes this novel great. I love the gentle humor in her tone.


message 15: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 1379 comments The thing about the first part is that if you love the world-building, it has something to hold you.

And if not, not.

It held me but I can see why it might not hold others.


message 16: by Margo (new)

Margo I finished part 1 and, one again am enraptured by this book.

I don't see that there is much world building as it is Georgian england. The only difference is that magic is real but nobody uses it. Mr Norrell has seen to that!

His character is so well drawn. He is a miser and a hoader of books. He doesn't want anyone to use magic. Why? Is he afraid of the power of spells in the wrong hands or is he just afraid that a better magician will emerge?

Enter Mr Strange. He seems to be a chancer! He has stumbled into magic becausr somebody told him to be a magician and as he has tried every other profession, well, he's going to give this one a go! He is so different to Norrell. Chalk and cheese. And their worlds have just collided.

I agree with Maria that the power of this story is in the writing style. In particular the way the author addresses the reader directly. As I have mentioned already - lovimg the footnotes.


message 17: by Alan (new)

Alan | 158 comments Just reached the end of Part One and will probably read a little further tonight.

The style didn't surprise me, but the depth of her commitment to it did. I've read a lot of nineteenth-century Russian classics, and it reminds me very much of those. I'm enjoying it a lot so far, although initially it was a hard switch from the futuristic and pithy John Scalzi to a rich and much more leisurely-paced book.

I also love characters like Mr. Norrell--I've always been a curmudgeon though, so maybe that's why. So far I also like Jonathan as well. The side characters are often very funny.


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