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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.
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]
I was so excited when the New York Times raved about this book, calling it the adult's version of Harry Potter. What a lot of rubbish. What an insult to JK Rowlings books, hers leaves this one for dead. After reading the New York Times, I quickly gleaned the information on the internet and brought it on line from overseas and had to wait 10 days for it to arrive. Finally it came and I started reading with great anticipated. Alas, what a let down it turned out to be. The story is all over the place with the slightest of thread binding the plot together. There is endless ramplings on of notes in the footers and I must say I am over one third of the book, with not the slightest bit of enthusiasum to read on. I'm just reading for the sake of reading, as I am going overseas on holidays and wish not to read the other books I have just purchased until them. I was going to save this book for the holidays but instead I can hardly wait to finish this dull, uninteresting mindless rampling of nonsense.
PS - when the book was published in Australia it was going for half price days after hitting the shelves. What does this say to you? The person who does the critics for the New York Times needs to be fired.
Man, is this book overhyped. I think it will be like "...And Ladies of the Club" -- many will buy but few will read.
About half-way through, I stopped because the plot -- what little there was -- had completely disappeared. I couldn't even summon up enough interest to learn what happens when a feud starts.
I wished I had saved my time. And I definitely was glad I had borrowed, not bought, the book!
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.