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 USA : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers, c2004.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9781582344164
1582344167
Characteristics: 782 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Rosenberg, Portia

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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!!

h
humbleworm
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.

s
SAM HRANAC
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.

s
Sublurbanite
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).

r
RaquelMaria
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.

c
clairelisabeth
Feb 15, 2017

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

s
sfarber5300
Oct 17, 2016

Anyone who enjoys Jane Austen will absolutely love this novel. It is all of the best qualities attributed to Ms. Austen with the drama and punch of a modern scifi/horror adventure.

I recommend it without reservation.

t
tesstlc
Aug 24, 2016

I came across this book by first watching (most of) the BBC mini series. I found it delightful to read at the same time as watching the show.
The show is fast paced and suspenseful. The book is quite different, more along the lines of Norrell's character in that it's pace is slow and thoughtful and very interested in minor details (the footnotes are a collection of mini stories).
It is one of those books like a gentle river that you glide along rather than a rushing creek full of waterfall-style cliffhangers.
I loved getting into all the details and the little stories behind the main plotline.
If you are more like Mr Strange and prefer a faster pace, try the BBC mini series.

c
catostorm
May 27, 2016

I don't know how the author got this book published. Dry and much too long. Footnotes alone could make a short story. Full of unnecessary details.

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Quotes

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k
kmarushy
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."

k
kmarushy
Aug 26, 2015

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

k
kmarushy
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."

k
kmarushy
Aug 26, 2015

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

k
kmarushy
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."

a
andreareads
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.

a
andreareads
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.

a
andreareads
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.

a
andreareads
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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clairelisabeth
Jul 19, 2017

clairelisabeth thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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Tytusmk
Jul 27, 2015

Tytusmk thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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