Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Book - 2004
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English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England's magical past and regained some of the powers of England's magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.

All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington's army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange's heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.

Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke's magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2004.
ISBN: 9781582344164
Characteristics: 782 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm.


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HCL_staff_reviews Aug 20, 2018

A grand mix of historical fiction, magic, and faerie, this book is set in early 19th-century Britain. At the time, the question among theoretical magicians (those who studied magic) was, given the glorious history of magic in Britain, why was it not actually being practiced? Two magicians arise to offer their "practical" magic to the British government, to the Duke of Wellington, and to individuals, with amazing results. A huge (780+ pages), award-winning first novel. — Liz A., Southdale Library

this book was so good that i read it as slowly as i possibly could because the prospect of not having this book to read was so terrible. when i got to the last hundred pages, i abandoned it for a month. my copy was so horrifically overdue that i just returned it and waited until i could get to the bookstore. then i finished the book. when it was over, i sat and stared into space for about half an hour. i asked myself what there was, without this book. i asked myself what i would do, now that this had ended. i signed up for bookmatch. i trawled the internet for recs.

nothing is good like this book is good. there are lots of good books in the world. shakespeare, many people agree, was a good writer. i've always loved jane austen. there are hundreds of wonderful classics, and hundreds of new gems coming out each year. there are books that read like poetry and books that can make you laugh out loud in public like an idiot.

nothing is good like this book is good. not to say that it's the best book ever written, which i don't have an opinion on really because i haven't read every book ever written. but i do know that this book is special. it's different from other books. i don't think it has to be, necessarily. i think lots of other people COULD write like this (maybe not quite as well, or as seemingly effortlessly, but maybe) but they refuse to. it's like susanna clarke comes from a totally different place. she is a master. i know this book took a lot of hard work to create, but there's also something innate to the author that comes out; talent, of course, loads, but also a total uniqueness. of course i've read other stuff like that, which shocked me with uniqueness of purpose. but she combines that with the work and research, the talent, the honed technique, the wide background of references, the sophistication, the confidence, the ambition. also she's true to the time while also having a diverse cast of characters and it's so natural and well-written. it's like she tapped into the vat of pure human emotion and wrote this whole book on some sort of supernatural high. and then edited it very, very well?

reading this book made me feel like no other book had before. it was sort of a harry potter feeling. you know when you were a kid and you read harry potter? it's a little like that. but it's more, because you're older now, and because this book is older. this book is at least a thousand years old. because of all the research that went into this book, how deep it cuts, the depth of emotion it displays, the sheer realness of it all. you feel like it's real, and yet it's perfectly magical. this book makes you feel like magic is real.

susanna clarke, if you're out there, please write another book. susanna, i will read your grocery lists. i will read your motivational post-it notes. if you wrote a book that was just reviews of different vacuum cleaners, i would read that.

in conclusion, five stars. please read this book, so that i feel less alone in the world, and also for you, because you'll love it, or maybe you'll think its boring. some people think this book is boring, apparently. it did win a lot of prizes, though, so most people are on my side about this one.

Jun 12, 2018

I can't believe I didn't read this till now! It is pretty much a summary of all my favourite things in one, long book! Regency period, the Duke of Wellington, dry narrator, footnotes, mentions of Jane Austen's books, libraries, country mansions, England, faeries, MAGIC! Seriously. I can't recommend this enough. I hope this author writes more in the same world! I couldn't put it down. I haven't stayed up late to read in a long time.

LVCCLD_Chris May 09, 2018

I loved this book. I’ve read it twice and seen the television adaptation. It’s a very leisurely, almost wandering narrative. I was completely engrossed.

DPLheather Apr 11, 2018

If you love fantasy, and you haven't read this one, you must add it to your list to read. Absolutely captivating story of what the power of magic can do, good and evil, in an alternate England. Don't miss the footnotes!!

Nov 08, 2017

This struck me as oddly like reading Tristram Shandy with elements of Verne's Robur the Conqueror in the first few chapters. It is formal and more long-winded than Dickens' works (paid by the word), with a dry humour. I'll have to finish it later though ... too many other books to read this week.

Jul 05, 2017

I came to this through watching the BBC series. I'm so glad I did both. Each takes full advantage of its format to please the viewer/reader. I'm not sure about all the Jane Austen comparisons, but I kinda get it.

Loved the self-indulgent footnotes. It makes me wish J.K. Rowling had done the same.

May 02, 2017

This book was recommended to me, and I am so happy I chose to read it. I'm not a Jane Austen fan, nor someone who reads fantasy novels, but I absolutely loved this book. The author does a fabulous job creating a robust setting for the reader and incorporating historical events to create a fiction book that is unlike any other I've read. The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because I found the ending to be a bit abrupt and personally unsatisfying. But still well worth the read. I'll be sure to recommend this to others (I've heard the audiobook version of this book is quite good, too).

Apr 06, 2017

One of my favorites! I always mention this book if someone asks for a recommendation.

This book blends Jane Austen and Harry Potter for lots of fun.

Feb 15, 2017

Jane Austen meets magic and folklore. What could be better! Wonderful classical novel!

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Aug 26, 2015

"He understood for the first time that the world is not dumb at all, but merely waiting for someone to speak to it in a language it understands."

Aug 26, 2015

"To be more precise, it was the colour of heartache."

Aug 26, 2015

"There is nothing in the world so easy to explain as failure - it is, after all, what everybody does all the time."

Aug 26, 2015

"She wore a gown the colour of storms, shadows, and rain and a necklace of broken promises and regrets."

Aug 26, 2015

"Can a magician kill 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."

SPL_STARR Jun 16, 2015

"Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians."

Feb 15, 2013

It has been remarked (by a lady infinitely cleverer than the present author) how kindly disposed the world in general feels to young people who either die or marry. Imagine then the interest that surrounded Miss Wintertowne! No young lady ever had such advantages before: for she died upon the Tuesday, was raised to life in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and was married upon the Thursday; which some people thought too much excitement for one week.

Feb 15, 2013

what the other servants did not know was that the new manservant had a temper . . . that he was sometimes sarcastic, often rude, and that he had a very high opinion of his own abilities and a correspondingly low one of other people’s. The new manservant did not mention his failings to the other servants for the simple reason that he knew nothing of them. Though he often found himself quarrelling with his friends and neighbours, he was always puzzled to discover the reason and always supposed that it must be their fault.

Feb 15, 2013

On the second day Strange sat down to write another fifty of so pages and immediately got into difficulties because he could not think of a rhyme for ‘let love suffice’. ‘Sunk in vice’ was not promising; ‘a pair of mice’ was nonsense, and ‘what’s the price?’ merely vulgar. He struggled for an hour, could think of nothing, went for a ride to loosen his brains and never looked at his poem again.

Feb 15, 2013

The pattern of the pools had meaning. The pools had been written on to the field by the rain. The pools were a magic worked by the rain, just as the tumbling of the black birds against the grey was a spell that the sky was working and the motion of grey-brown grasses was a spell that the wind made. Everything had meaning.

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Jul 19, 2017

clairelisabeth thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jul 27, 2015

Tytusmk thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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