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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke

There haven’t been any posts for a while because I find it very tricky to collect my thoughts while the girls are home on holidays, but school is back today and I have quite a back log of books read.

I’ve been meaning to read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell for such a long time, but it seemed to be such a commitment of time when I had loads of other things to read and get on with. However, when someone else in book club suggested it I enthusiastically endorsed the idea.

Here is the blurb …

 Centuries ago when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of them all was the Raven King. A human child brought up by fairies, the Raven King blended fairy wisdom and human reason to create English magic. Now at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he is barely more than a legend, and England, with its mad King and its dashing poets, no longer believes in practical magic. Then the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey appears and causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. News spreads of the return of magic to England and, persuaded that he must help the government in the war against Napoleon, Mr Norrell goes to London. There he meets a brilliant young magician and takes him as a pupil. Jonathan Strange is charming, rich and arrogant. Together, they dazzle the country with their feats. But the partnership soon turns to rivalry. Mr Norrell has never conquered his lifelong habits of secrecy, while Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous magic. He becomes fascinated by the shadowy figure of the Raven King, and his heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens, not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear. Elegant, witty and utterly compelling, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell creates a past world of great mystery and beauty that will hold the reader in thrall until the last page.

I loved this book. I thought the writing was beautiful and very like a Victorian novel (Dickens comes to mind). I enjoyed the mingling of historical stuff and fantasy stuff and the foot notes were fabulous. In my book club one person hated the foot notes and stopped reading them and another thought they weren’t needed, but added to the enjoyment of the novel. Me? I enjoyed them – I loved how they rambled on and told other stories (and created a more complete world).

While I was reading I did wonder who else would enjoy it. It is written like a Victorian novel, but is really a fantasy novel. However, it appears to be very popular (my copy states that it is an ‘International Bestseller’.

I look forward to reading more of Ms Clarke’s work.

Here are some other reviews …




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