Reader reviews and comments on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, plus links to write your own review.

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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2004, 800 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2005, 800 pages

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There are currently 13 reader reviews for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
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liannebatcheler

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
I purchased this novel in a charity shop having never heard of them before. I know one should never judge a book by its cover, however it was this that lead to what i now see as one of my most treasured impulse buys!!!!

I was gripped throughout following the fate of the main characters. At times i was reminded of Poe's dark tales which i think are reflected in this fantasy.

The author's use of foot notes builds a world which is so completeley believable explaining every detail of the character's motivations and actions. I love it, a fabulous feast for my imagination what more could I ask for! More Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell please Ms Clarke!!!
Becka

Excellent Read
I loved this book. I kept forgetting that the footnotes were fiction and not the real magical history of England. I was drawn in from page one and never tired of the detail or the characters. The meandering way that the story progresses was not bothersome for me, but I can see how it would be for some people who are used to a more "to the point" style. All in all, this was a wonderful read, but it is not for everyone.
Catherine

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
A novel with many rewards for those who are patient! Definitely not for you if you need instant gratification -say you much prefer USA Today to the Times, or you don't find Dan Brown's writing style choppy, or you never read non-fiction books-if that's you, don't bother picking this up, you won't be happy, so just wait for the movie.
Has a wonderful hypnotic quality to it, you can find yourself feeling you've been time travelling when you put it down. Don't give yourself a deadline reading this -it wants to be savored. I have been a great fan of old spooky tales by M.R .James for many years and I found this reminded me of his writing -has that marvellous old Antiquarian feel about it. The footnotes are almost a companion volume, in some sections I enjoyed them more than the main narrative, but those who want an easy read might be distracted. I actually "googled" John Uskglass at one point because I wasn't sure any longer what was based on lore and legend and what was created for this book -to me, that means the artist has succeeded in creating myth, how often do we get that? Perhaps that's the reason for the comparisons to Tolkien or J.K. Rowling, this success in creating a world -unless it's as I've heard and this is the first book of a planned trilogy -the ending definitely points to a continuation as well.
My only criticism is a small one-I did initially find all the exclamation points ("Oh!" a few or more times per page) a bit jarring. I felt at one point that even tho' it IS a book about magic it's a little wearing when they all seem to be in a constant state of mild shock. After some time I became used to it, but I do wonder how she got that past her editor. That said, I find short choppy chapters much more upsetting, tho' I am a huge film buff, there are screenwriters to translate stories to film sequences, I don't need or want film shamelessly pandered to on the page!
I think if you enjoy reading history, classic literature or M.R. James, James Peake, and H.P. Lovecraft and the Arkham House authors you will be sorry to turn the last page. Ms. Clarke has woven history, legend and the fantastic into a seemless whole and I would be happy to return to the England of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell -not to mention John Uskglass....
Ruth M

Footnotes
The length of the book seems intimidating but I found it fascinating and very clever. I did not tire of it. Extremely enjoyable and the author's careful research of basic history make it seem almost true..

It would be easy to believe the footnotes are real. Certainly they are realistically written and very clever.

Great book.
Dave Westervelt

I am surprised to find any nay-sayers for this story. When I finished I had the delightful dual sensations of sorrow that I had finished a story that had so drawn me in and joy that I had had the opportunity to partake in such a story as is provided by Ms. Clarke.

This story was written as all stories should be. She took ten years to research, write, and refine. Each character is clearly thought out. And no parts of the story could be removed without a change to the plot. Ms. Clarke brilliantly built this story without any extraneous material; it constantly builds upon itself.

I must admit, though, that I am surprised to read these reviews that link Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. While I suppose that, upon reflection, I can see certain similarities, I never for a moment thought of Ms. Clarke occupying shelf space beside the garishly colored fantasy novels in a book store.

This book was recommended to me by the only person whose every recommendation has been excellent; I only hope that the surpassing quality of Ms. Clarke's story will be remembered.
Mark Sceviour

I am a huge LOTR fan. I am not a big fan of Mr. Potter. So when this book was listed as the adut version of H.P, I was not pleased. I am a fan of history. This book almost convinced me that England had a strong magical past. This is a historical novel wrapped around the personal conflict of two feuding friends.

I do admit that you need to take your time reading this book. You have to enjoy the footnotes, not be put off by them. For me it was not a quick read. I rather liked it that way. It made the history more real. I had months to believe in it. In the end I could have read another 782 pages and not been put off.

I know that New Line has the rights for the movie, and while they did a great job on LOTR's, I am afraid they will cut out allot of the details in this story, to make it spead up.

If you enjoy being convinced that what you are reading is real, then pick up J.S & M.N.

nanny4anne

This is my first review and I am first to review this amazing book.

I have only started reading it but it is so wonderful that I need to say so now. The details and footnotes are so intriguing. Every page has something to really think about. The writing is so graceful, the humor is so inciteful.

I love big books with big details...and this is it.
Robert

Almost inevitably, low ratings have come from people who have not finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. A notable exception is the negative The New Yorker review posted above in Book Browse.

It may be that people not meant to enjoy the book soon recognize so and put it down, or that the ending pulls together the myriad details and characters of the langorous beginning. I personally enjoyed the slow beginning of this clever, intriguing, rich, and luxurious epic. As its large supporting cast of beguiling Dickens and Austen character types pop in and out, the faux history of magic woven into 19th century England history has the feel of being written 200 years ago.

A reviewer at audible.com puts it well:
[quote] Best Listen In a Long Time
5 stars. Reviewer: Andrew, from Madison, WI, USA Date: December 30, 2004

I never take the time to review the books I listen to off audible unless they are terrible or amazing, this one is amazing. There are other decent reviews of the plot, similar authors etc. so I will just hit two points:

1. The narration is excellent, it is saying something when a deep voiced man can accurately portray a female character with nuance and feeling and bring tears to my hard heart.

2. The massive detail and interesting footnotes make for a long book and for 80% of it's progress one is left interested but not knowing what it is all about. I consider this more of an asset than a defect but if you need everything spelled out for you and good and bad guys assigned clearly it may be frustraiting. It is not ADD friendly, it reads like it was written by someone who loves to read intricate books not someone who wanted a simple plot so it would make a easy screenplay (tho it is being made into a film anyway). As a result if you do not get past that 80% mark you are missing out on a real gem.

In closing this was an excellent listen, if you like the fantasy work of Ursula K. LeGuin (the books, not the worthless tv show) chances are you will love it.[/quote]


Robert
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