Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
by: Susanna Clarke

Published: 2004

# of pages: 1,006

Quote: "'Soldiers, I am sorry to say, steal everything.' He thought for a moment and then added, 'Or at least ours do.'" -Lord Liverpool p. 366

I loved this book! After reading the first few pages I thought it would be a drag, or at least somewhat of a struggle to continue picking up to read. The footnotes threw me off, I thought the book was going to be like a boring textbook. It did take me awhile to finish, but not because I wanted to put the book down! It is long, but it didn't help that other things kept coming up that forced me to put the book away.

I think that Clarke did a brilliant job writing this book. It's witty, humorous, clever... I could go on and on. I loved the fact that she mixed history, fantasy, and fairytales together. It was a little confusing at first because I wasn't sure if this was a historical fiction or a fantasy and was somewhat baffled when I read about famous historical figures and magicians in the same paragraph, but I soon figured out that it is a mixture of both of these genres.

The story follows two magicians in England during the early 1800s. Once, magicians were everywhere and magic was strong in England, but it fizzled out until it was almost extinct except for a few "magicians" who studied the history of magic, but couldn't actually perform any. That is until Mr Norrell appears. He is very protective of his magical abilities and so it is a surprise when he allows Jonathan Strange to be his student. The two magicians do amazing things with magic, but their opinions about it widely differ and they start to drift apart. The story follows the magicians and their separate (and joined) quests to bring magic back to England.

I recommend this book to teens and adults who enjoy fantasy and historical fiction. It will probably help you enjoy this book more if you know the basics about the poet Byron's life (he is mentioned several times and I found her interpretation of his life very entertaining since I studied him in college) and some of the basics about the Napoleonic Wars. However, even if you don't know a lot about historical figures and events, you will still enjoy this.

I also saw on IMDB that they are going to be making a movie based off the novel! It doesn't say when it will be finished, but that's something to look forward to.


Nymeth said...

I loved it too! The pages just flew by. I hope the movie is good...this book seems particularly hard to adapt, since for me all the detail is a great part of what makes it so rich and enjoyable. But we'll see.

Framed said...

Great review. I had heard some negative things about this book but have never read it myself. Definitely rethinking that.

Andrea said...

Nymeth, I agree that it would be hard to capture it for a movie. I loved the way Clarke described everything and that wouldn't be in the movie.

Framed, my mom only read the first few chapters and thought it was too boring. It is rough the first several chapters and it can be overwhelming with the footnotes. I actually skipped the footnotes in the first few chapters. But after I got into the story I wanted to read them and a lot of them were actually really interesting. You should give it a try!

Missy said...

I've always wanted to read this book, just haven't gotten around to it yet.

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