Friday, May 20, 2016

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

    • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
    • Published 2004
    • Won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2005
    • One other book by the author so far: The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories

    • The story takes place in England starting in the year 1806. It is an alternate history of sorts: magic is something that is assumed to have been real but had disappeared centuries before. Mr. Norrell, a reclusive magician, makes his talents known to the world and the story follows from that.
    • Jonathan is an aimless young man who decides to make magic his career.
    • The two magicians come together in a tutor-pupil relationship but part ways when their philosophies on magic differ. Norrell believes magic should stay "theoretical" and in books he has hoarded to keep from others, including his pupil. Strange believes magic should be practiced rather than hidden away in books.
    • The magic involves the fairy world (and prophesies too!) and a whole cast of characters.

    • I watched the BBC America miniseries last summer and loved it. The two main actors, Eddie Marsan (Norrell) and Bertie Carvel (Strange), were wonderful. I highly recommend it for people who like stories about magic and the era of the Napoleonic Wars.
    • The book includes numerous footnotes with asides about the history of magic and explaining the fairy tales affecting the story. Most people don't seem to like footnotes in scholarly books much less a novel. I am not one of them. I adore footnotes, especially when they expand on the topic rather than just cite a source.
    • Obviously this is a book that intrigues me as I enjoy stories about weird, magic worlds. It was a bestseller so I guess a bunch of people were also intrigued.
    • The author apparently took over 10 years to write this novel. She is supposedly writing a follow-up. Since 12 years have passed then perhaps it means a new book is on the horizon in the next few years.
      • The Ladies of Grace Adieu, published in 2008, includes stories taking place in the same alternate world but many of these were written and published previously to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.