The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.
Review: Ahhhhhhhhh…..like a long drink of water, finishing a fantastic novel is so refreshing and pleasurable. This was my second reading of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and I enjoyed it every bit as much as I did the first time. (Enough time had elapsed that I had completely forgotten all but the most basic plot structure.)
Susanna Clark’s writing is just delightful. It’s like eating a box of chocolates, but where each one is something you like instead of the fear of a gross one hanging over your head. The story is complicated enough to require your full attention but not draining to read. I would argue it’s an instant classic – it has all the elements of a perfect classical novel with the imagination of a modern one, and I’m absolutely astonished that it was a first novel. There is a depth and maturity to it that you rarely see.
And of the plot I’ll say little, because it’s really something you just need to read. This is a great one for book clubs who aren’t intimidated by a big page count! (It still goes quickly!).
Source: Personal library