Book Reviews of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Jonathan Strange Mr Norrell
Author: Susanna Clarke
The Market's bargain prices are even better for Paperbackswap club members!
Retail Price: $9.99
Buy New (Mass Market Paperback): $9.70 (save 2%) or
Become a PBS member and pay $5.80+1 PBS book credit (save 41%)
ISBN-13: 9780765356154
ISBN-10: 0765356155
Publication Date: 8/1/2006
Pages: 1,024
Rating:
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 194

3.5 stars, based on 194 ratings
Publisher: Tor Books
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

96 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 19 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 16
There are people here who really loved this book and people who loathe it. I really liked it.

Initially it took some getting used to, like the way your ear adjusts to opera or another language, Clarke's rich narrative was very soothing for me and I loved escaping in it into her story. It started a little slowly, but the promise of "Jane Austen meets Harry Potter" was too much for me to resist. I found it more "Jane Austen attempts to one-up Tolkien with mixed results" but as I said, I am firmly in the "loved it" camp.

One of the themes I especially liked was Mr. Norrell's hoarding of magic books, particularly in times where corporate censorship can stifle political thought and many countries still do not enjoy freedom of speech or the press.

My favorite thing about this book was what a dreamy hero Jonathan Strange is. Though three dimensional, and with a few weaknesses, Clarke writes him deliciously and I couldn't have been happier with him as a protagonist.

Arabella, Lady Pole, Stephen Black, The gentleman with thistle down hair, Childremass, even Viniculus and Segundus are all vibrant supporting characters that make the story engaging and real.

Some of the best parts of the book only related tangentially to the plot, which is quite well developed. You will find emotional and suspenseful moments when you least suspect them.

I leave you with this quotation from the book:

"Can a magician kill a man 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 could."
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 774 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
This early-19th-century alternate history follows the characters of the title - Mr. Norrell, a magician who is obsessed with the idea of returning England to its prior state of magical glory - but who guards his secrets jealously - and Jonathan Strange, a gentlemanly dilettante who unexpectedly finds his calling in magic as well.

Written in an intentionally pseudo-Victorian style, this long book (almost 800 pages) is not the sort of tale that one falls into and forgets the world until it is over. Frequently annotated by footnotes, the meandering story *feels* long (it took me 6 days to read! Unheard of!) - but it is also a literary pleasure to read, full of quirky "facts" and fables.

The positive reviews of this book are not wrong - this is a good book, and a remarkable first novel. but I am utterly mystified as to why anyone would compare it to Tolkien (as many press reviews have) or with Harry Potter.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
Readers of this book will fall into one of two categories: those who love it and can't put it down vs those who find it too tedious and slow to finish.

I fall into the category of those who loved this book. I found it steady and compelling, even though the plot was subtle and the action subdued. For me, this book possessed that unidentifiable hook that drew me in at the very beginning and kept me interested to the very end.

This book provides a unique blend of magic, mystery, mythology, and Victorian-style writing. The characters are as complex as the situations that surround them. Claims that this book is slow, tedious, and boring are not unfounded. There is certainly a contingency of readers who will absolutely hate this book. There will also be just as many who name it among their favorites.

If you start reading this book and are not intrigued by the first 100 pages or so, then you would probably do best by moving onto something else. The pacing and tone of the book remain fairly consistent throughout its 800+ pages. If the first 100 bore you, move on. If they intrigue you, then be glad to know that there are 700 more to come.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 53 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
As hard as I tried, after plowing through the first 350 of its 800 plus pages, I had to give up. If you like the style of Dickens, you may enjoy this. Just not my cup of tea.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on
Helpful Score: 7
This is my favorite book of all time. Fantasy, history, and humor all collide into this very clever and unique novel. It's a bit lengthy, but worth it. As everyone says, it's "Harry Potter for adults."
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on
Helpful Score: 6
This is a behemoth of a book that won't be for everyone. It is not to be entered into lightly, so capable is it of simply draining away an entire day before you realise it's too late. Sometimes moving, sometimes frightening, and often slyly informative, this book is chock full of sneaky, subtle humour that leaves one with a general feeling of reading while sitting in the sunlight . . . whatever the weather may be where you are. I've read this book three times in less than a year. It's THAT good. The antiquated prose may turn some people off, but for those who are willing to give it a chance, this is a staggering literary feat that should not be missed by anyone with even the slightest bit of whimsy left in them.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
I've read all the wonderful reviews but I had an awful time getting through this one. I had to stop twice and read other books. Much too long and slow for me.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 99 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Loved it! Great mystery, with a bit of magic thrown in.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Readers of this book will fall into one of two categories: those who love it and can't put it down vs those who find it too tedious and slow to finish.

I fall into the category of those who loved this book. I found it steady and compelling, even though the plot was subtle and the action subdued. For me, this book possessed that unidentifiable hook that drew me in at the very beginning and kept me interested to the very end.

This book provides a unique blend of magic, mystery, mythology, and Victorian-style writing. The characters are as complex as the situations that surround them. Claims that this book is slow, tedious, and boring are not unfounded. There is certainly a contingency of readers who will absolutely hate this book. There will also be just as many who name it among their favorites.

If you start reading this book and are not intrigued by the first 100 pages or so, then you would probably do best by moving onto something else. The pacing and tone of the book remain fairly consistent throughout its 800+ pages. If the first 100 bore you, move on. If they intrigue you, then be glad to know that there are 700 more to come.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on
Helpful Score: 3
Slow at first, but the author does a great job building the pace and tension right before the climax. I enjoyed how the footnotes kept me flipping around the book, but I can see they might be annoying to some people. Despite many things I thought at first were weak points, I had a hard time putting it down until I had finished it.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 65 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Finally! I was determined to conquer this book, no matter how many months it took. I'm not sure why, actually, but at last it's done.

My problem with this book is the same as so many other readers. While the author created a wonderful world in her novel, there was nothing that compelled me to continue reading, until the last 150 or so pages. Those I read in less than a day, and enjoyed. It's just the set-up for the ending takes absolutely forever.

I was never bored when I was reading the first 80% of the novel, but it was always quite easy to put down and leave down.

So if you do decide to attempt it, know that eventually things to start to happen, but that it takes quite awhile to get there.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 51 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Big fat doorstop of a book that will keep you engrossed for at least a week :) Easy to get into, a page-turner. It's been described as "Harry Potter for grown-ups" and I think this is a fair assessment. Engaging characters but a bit of a melancholy ending. Fun ride along the way, though.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 269 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
An extraordinarily entertaining book written as if from an historical perspective (I loved the footnotes!). The ending begs for a sequel - but it also begs for a rewrite. After such a highly absorbing and well written story, the ending the ending is as unsatisfying and empty as the rest of the story is imaginative and full. As long as you don't expect a stunning and fulfilling ending, you will find this one of the best reads of the year.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This book was compelling. While sometimes tiring, I felt an urgency to read on. The characters weave in and out of this novel, sometimes disappearing for hundreds of pages and then popping up again. The story is facinating, really, but not for the impatient reader. This book is also not for anyone who does not have time to read every day, because one really has to keep track of all the stories going on simultaneously. I agree with other readers who say that the first 500 pages seem to drag at times, but I think they are necessary to the last 500 pages of the story. Then, long about page 600 the whole thing starts to fall into place. I'm not sure what I think about all the footnotes. In my opinion, they were not essential to the story--just little tidbits that might enlighten the reader. I chose not to read them, and the story still kept my interest. I think a glossary in the back would have done just as well. Overall, this was a dandy read that I would suggest to others as "something different" to read for a change. I will definitely read this author again.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
What a great first novel! I enjoyed almost from the first page. The imagination and painstaken research involved also shows. If you like Dickens type books, being swept away in a magical read, this is the book for you.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
An excellent read! At over 800 pages, it still went by too fast! With an amazing eye for detail the author weaves an astounding tale from start to finish, intertwining the fantastic with a firm grasp of historical knowledge. Just amazing!
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 78 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Marketed as a "Harry Potter for Adults", I found this book hard to put down. By the end of the story, I was sad it had to end, because after 846 pages, I got quite attached to the character.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 962 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Widely regarded as one of the best works of the modern fantasy canon, JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL was a book Ive been meaning to read for a while. And while every one of these 1000 or so pages is evidence of literary brilliance, it wasnt something I was fully emotionally invested in. Still, though, Im glad I finally read it.

Susanna Clarke takes the subgenre Regency fantasy to a whole new level with her superb command of that time periods language. Think Austen with a heavy dose of magical elements: not only was the language reminiscent of Regency England times, but Austens almost insidious portrayal of ridiculous people had a heavy showing in JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL. While Strange and Norrell are arguably the main characters of the eponymous novel, we readers dont really like them the way we usually do protagonists, because most of them are not good people: Norrell in particular manipulate nearly everyone out of fear of a loss of influence, meanwhile letting his even-less-appealing friends manipulate him in turn. All the unsavory characters in the book make Jonathan Strange look very good indeed, but hes no real wounded hero, just another self-centered guy who does not give enough consideration to others in his life.

That, I guess, is what ultimately disappointed me about this book: it doesnt break any conventions or tread new ground in terms of genre or sociohistorical issues. Clarke crafts an alternate, magician-focused history for England, but, with the exception of head-scratchingly long footnotes showing just how in-depth Clarke has got with her alternate history creativity, JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL didnt blow me out of the water with originality in its fantasy genre.

Additionallyand this may just be meI found it a bit off-putting how small a role women played in the novel. For a book written by a female author, I had expected a bit more subversion of historical attitudes toward the role of males vs. females in society; yes, the book doesnt attempt to focus on the inequality and tensions between different parties, but I was surprised that the book didnt take such a step with potentially strong and interesting female characters such as Arabella Strange and Mrs. Pole. No, at the end of the day, things and people seemed to be pretty much what they had been before the book started, which results in readers confusion along the lines of, I just spent three weeks reading 1000 pagesand did anything significant really happen? Hrmph.

So, in some ways, reading JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL was for me like reading a classic that the great authorities of literature say is a must-read but on a personal level was a slog to get through. While I certainly appreciated Clarkes Austenian writing style, I closed the book realizing that 500 pages couldve been cut out and I would have thought nothing was amiss.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on
Helpful Score: 2
The book drew me in from the beginning. It's a tale about 2 magicians in England in the mid-1800's and how their actions change the course of British history. It has something for everyone. I'm not a big "fantasy" person but the magic had a note of normalcy to it. She created an entire history of English magic (somewhere between Tolkien and Rowling). There is a lot of British society to it so there is an element for Jane Austen fans to appreciate. Maybe even a bit of Dickens. It is just an incredibly well rounded book. It's a pity to say it's a book about magic. There's so much more. That's just the beginning of it. The book is long, some 800 pages. But it went by so fast for me.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 24 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I enjoyed this book hugely but it isn't a quick read. It's somewhat like reading a mix of Jane Austen and Harry Potter. I recommend taking your time with it and enjoying the journey; a lot of the pleasures of this book are in the details.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Starts out EXTREMELY slow, you'd never imagine a book that starts w/ statues in a church wailing about past crimes to be described as starting slow but trust me, I was struggling mightily thru the first 500 pages or so. But I ended up absolutely loving this novel. I especially loved the footnotes that occasionally ran for pages and pages. You can really get a sense of a well developed history and mythology that seems to simmer right beneath the surface of the story.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I was really, really excited to begin this book. i loved it at first, but after a few hundred pages it became, well, droll. The descriptions of magic are uninteresting. the world is stagnant. I would agree with other reviewers that it doesn't feel like a fantasy. It feels like the writer wanted to create a classic but couldn't do it, so she threw in some words like "magic". In the end, it's boring and a waste of time to read.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Readers of this book will fall into one of two categories: those who love it and can't put it down vs those who find it too tedious and slow to finish.

I fall into the category of those who loved this book. I found it steady and compelling, even though the plot was subtle and the action subdued. For me, this book possessed that unidentifiable hook that drew me in at the very beginning and kept me interested to the very end.

This book provides a unique blend of magic, mystery, mythology, and Victorian-style writing. The characters are as complex as the situations that surround them. Claims that this book is slow, tedious, and boring are not unfounded. There is certainly a contingency of readers who will absolutely hate this book. There will also be just as many who name it among their favorites.

If you start reading this book and are not intrigued by the first 100 pages or so, then you would probably do best by moving onto something else. The pacing and tone of the book remain fairly consistent throughout its 800+ pages. If the first 100 bore you, move on. If they intrigue you, then be glad to know that there are 700 more to come.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
When I started reading this book, I really wanted it to be great. It is one of those huge books that you start to read and cannot stop because you just know the next page will get better. I read the whole thing because I thought I had invested so much time in it that I had to finish. Probably one of the worst books I have ever read. Do not waste your time. I would not even give it a half star except that I have to in order to submit my review of this book.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 404 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I admit when I first saw this book I was reluctant to read it - not because of the subject. I like books about magic and history, but because of the size. From the beginning, however, Clarke's writing pulled me into this world in which magic is studied and practiced, used and misunderstood. I especially liked the interactions between Norrell and Strange and the ones between the servant Stephen Black and the faery gentleman with the thistle-down hair.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 953 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This may have been about magicians. Or not. Whatever it is/was, it's a doorstop of a book with eentsy-weentsy print and an apparently glacial pace. I gave up after 50 pages when I realized that not only had nothing happened to the characters, I really didn't care whether it did or not.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 1250 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great read, has abit of everything in it, spooky, scary, weird and sometimes abit funny. A good storyline that keeps moving and goes a good job at keeping you thinking!
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book is 1008 pages long, and I found myself wishing it was longer! The author transports you to England in the early 1800's, and by the time you are 1/4 of the way into the book you are convinced that magic is real, and that all of the history you learned is incorrect.

I enjoy books like this, that take a leap away from reality, but write it in a way that makes you believe every word of it. Susanna Clarke creates a world that you wish you could visit, and characters that are fully formed, complex and compelling.

I have seen it called Harry Potter for adults, and this could hold true, as the magicians face issues such as war, jealousy, and evil.

A fascinating book, and I highly recommend it.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 23 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Long but compelling fanatasy from England. Enter a world that feels real, a history that you would have thought that you would know...but you don't. 782 pages with footnotes!!!
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 13 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Fun, fun, fun. A big spawling richly detailed and imaginative fantasy of England with magic intact. The footnotes are hilarious and the themes of good, evil, innocence and hubris are provocative but not heavy handed. One of my favorites of all time. If you are a reader that likes to get lost in the world of a book this one is for you.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 1522 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This large book begins with the statues in a church coming alive and screaming, but it progresses quite slowly from that lively introduction. As far as atmosphere goes, think gloomy English weather coupled with characters evincing the most overbearing of British caste system muddling on with prose from the Three Musketters or Dracula.
Early 19th century, two very different magicians emerge to change Englands history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging, most people believe magic to be long dead in Englanduntil the reclusive and irascible Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity. Then another magician, young, daring Jonathan Strange comes forth. He becomes Norrells student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.
Time Magazine #1 Book of the Year, Book Sense Book of the Year, People Top Ten Books of the Year, Winner of the Hugo Award, New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, many other awards.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on
Helpful Score: 1
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell tells the story of the revival of English Magic. It's written almost as a historical retelling so there are a lot of characters, a lot of scene changes and a lot of history to keep track of which Susanna Clarke guides you along with brilliantly with the use of footnotes that are both entertaining and engaging.

The story is wonderfully original and funny, invoking the social commentary and wry wit of Austin, the dreary hazy English landscapes and villians of Dickins and the wonder of Rowling.

This is a perfect book to spend a rainy weekend with, and to spend the rest of the week day dreaming about.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I loved this book-Imaginative, scary, satirical, mysterious, and very very funny.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Initially, I didn't know what to think as I listened to this book; however, as the story continued, I became engrossed and couldn't wait to put in the next disc. Mr. Norrell is portrayed as this old, dry Englishman, but he knows his "magic." He is a bit prideful and very set in his ways. Along comes Jonathan Strange as his apprentice and becomes quite skilled, but very ambitious,headstrong and wants to change the "old and busted" with the "new hotness." But there are consequences for his brash actions. It is a strange, but fascinating story. The writer is very descriptive and detailed and your imagination paints these fantastic scenes. I think you'd like the book, but you've got to give it a chance and pay very close attention.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 307 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Incredibly detailed account of the restoration of Magic to England. History and fantasy wonderfully woven together. Be prepared to drive the long way home to listen to the audio version - many CDs!
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is one of the best books I've read lately, but I can see where it's not for everyone. It's a heavy read, not just for the length but because there's a lot of details to absorb and a lot of footnotes to help provide those details. While the footnotes can occasionally slow down the reading of the main story - there's one heated exchange between several scholars where for several pages there's 1/6 page of dialog and 5/6 of footnotes - the upswing is that the book doesn't have to resort to characters explaining background to other characters. It feels like all the details of magic are things well-known, and the footnotes are just there to remind you.

This was an extremely pleasant read for me, but it probably helps if you're a fan of that old style of prose in which clarity of intention is favored over brevity of text. This could probably have been edited to half its length, but Clarke has a lot to say and a lot of interesting points of fact to share about her history of English magic, and I'm glad to have found this rare example of an author who can actually get away with publishing it all in one massive tome. Reads more like Twain than Salvatore, and to me that's a refreshing change of pace.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Hard to put down? Hard to get through just the second chapter!!! I found the book very hard to read, due to the author droning on and never getting to the point! I had very high hopes for this book but in the end, I was disappointed.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 56 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A fascinating novel. Also a very, very long novel. It took me a couple of weeks to read this one.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 281 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Oh how hard I tried to get through this book - but alas - nada! For me, this was so over written, it was a quagmire just waiting to catch and drown me. I escaped, thankfully. Big, yucky book!
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 33 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The book kept my interest, but it seemed like it was the longest book ever written. Wait - it WAS pretty darned long, at ~850 pages. The various strings of the story got tied up pretty quickly in about a 15-page clump way at the end of the book; the actual ending (the last two pages or so) was not as satisfying as I could have hoped.

I guess that after giving this book so many hours of my life, I was hoping for something a bit more meaty at the end.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Readers of this book will fall into one of two categories: those who love it and can't put it down vs those who find it too tedious and slow to finish.

I fall into the category of those who loved this book. I found it steady and compelling, even though the plot was subtle and the action subdued. For me, this book possessed that unidentifiable hook that drew me in at the very beginning and kept me interested to the very end.

This book provides a unique blend of magic, mystery, mythology, and Victorian-style writing. The characters are as complex as the situations that surround them. Claims that this book is slow, tedious, and boring are not unfounded. There is certainly a contingency of readers who will absolutely hate this book. There will also be just as many who name it among their favorites.

If you start reading this book and are not intrigued by the first 100 pages or so, then you would probably do best by moving onto something else. The pacing and tone of the book remain fairly consistent throughout its 800+ pages. If the first 100 bore you, move on. If they intrigue you, then be glad to know that there are 700 more to come.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on
Helpful Score: 1
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell are two English magicians who collaborate at first but then find they have very different philosophies of how magic should be viewed and performed. Mr. Norrell wants to be the foremost authority of magic and keep Strange under his tutelage. Jonathan Strange realizes he is just as good a magician as Norrell and is much more open to teaching anyone his art. This battle of wills frames the story, but there is also romance, a tiny bit of comedy, and history interwoven into the story as well. Napolean, Duke Wellington, and Lord Byron make small appearances as do a gentleman with thistle-down hair and a magician called The Raven King. I won't tell much of the plot here because I wouldn't want to spoil the story for those who haven't read it yet! I will say that the ending hints that there might be more books to follow.

The book is written in the style of a Victorian novel. There is no bad language and not much, though a little, violence. The violence that is present reminded me a little of Edgar Allen Poe's stories. I was worried about what the book would contain when I started it, but the content was mostly accepable to me. I'm a little more conservative than most readers, so this concerned me a little. The only objection I do have is that there are a few places in the book that are a bit condescending to the Church and religion. It wasn't enough for me to downgrade the book's rating, though, and I'm very glad I read it. It looks like there will be a movie in 2008, and I will really look forward to seeing that as well.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book is quite long but good. It's very British and good for reading when in a literary mood.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 4 more book reviews
I couldn't get past the beginning. I tried - I truly did but the beginning is so painfully slow that I finally just gave up and it's sat on my shelf since. =/ Just not a book for everyone.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 27 more book reviews
I love Charles Dickens, and I love the fantasy genre. This book combined those two loves beautifully - a story about two magicians in England during the 1800s, written in a very Dickens-esque style. I really enjoyed it - The writing is really excellent.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on
If I could give this book no stars I would. This book drags you into a long, convoluted story where most characters are incidental and go nowhere, often disappearing for the bulk of the book only to come back in the end to be vital. You're left with a "what the heck" feeling with the completely unsatisfying and silly ending, which leaves you wondering if Ms. Clarke just decided one day to stop writing and send the book to her publisher anyway. Absolutely horrible book.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 6 more book reviews
Wow...never again. A barely mediocre story of utterly boring magic that really goes nowhere. I had to struggle to finish it. (I have read about 440 books) I have no idea where the favorable reviews come from on this one. Written well? Well, I guess so...but so what.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 141 more book reviews
Absolutely great!
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 12 more book reviews
This book was really slow to start, but once you get into it I thought it was really good. However, my dad started it and couldn't finish it because he thought it was too slow.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 6 more book reviews
Enjoyed the incredible, credible world created by the author in this book.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 11 more book reviews
AWESOME!!! I didn't want it to end! Brilliant!
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 12 more book reviews
I liked this book, it was a bit slow starting but once Strange was introduced, it picked up. the whole magic thing was a bit dry, no fairys or dragons. I liked that it took some concentration and I had to really focus. It was also a long read which I liked. The way the story unfolds mixing fact with fiction ( or is it?) was convincing.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 636 more book reviews
This book was quite long - and it certainly had some slow moving parts (particularly in the beginning!). In fact, there were times that I regretted picking it up in the first place, but, I must admit, as the story drew on (and on!) it really improved. And the ending more than made up for the duller sections.
My main complaint though was that the book was broken up into rather anecdotal chapters, which stole some of the cohesiveness of the book as a whole. That being said, there were definitely sections that I really liked - such as King George's and Lord Byron's "guest appearances." There were some unanswered questions, of course, but it was very fascinating premise and the amount of details alone were impressive. It certainly had a real epic quality.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 20 more book reviews
Fascinating mystery and fantasy.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on
This book.... ah, what to say. The author is trying far too hard. She is not a Victorian author, and there was no reason to write her book this way. I was told to read this book because "it starts slow, but it gets good". I was halfway through the book before I finally gave up. The characters are not engaging, not developed well, and the author leaves her original storyline through tangents several chapters long.

Her "fanciful" use of footnotes that span several pages; outmoded spelling such as "shew" for show and "chuse" for choose; and general writing style may seem charming to some, but was very annoying and false to me. I know Susanna Clarke is a modern author- why the pretense to write in a style that is not truly hers? Why must she attempt to use spelling that is not accepted today? This whole book had very little magic description and far too many different undeveloped story-lines going on for me to enjoy it.

Bottom line- This book is NOT Harry Potter, for adults or otherwise. This book is most definitely NOT Tolkien, who created well-developed and believable fantasy WORLDS, not just undeveloped characters who occasionally do magic. Read this book if you like meandering, pseudo-Victorian prose with a small sprinkling of magic. DO NOT read this book if you prefer books about magical worlds that immerse you from the beginning and leave you wanting more at the end, because you will be sadly disappointed.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 902 more book reviews
Readers of this book will fall into one of two categories: those who love it and can't put it down vs those who find it too tedious and slow to finish.

I fall into the category of those who loved this book. I found it steady and compelling, even though the plot was subtle and the action subdued. For me, this book possessed that unidentifiable hook that drew me in at the very beginning and kept me interested to the very end.

This book provides a unique blend of magic, mystery, mythology, and Victorian-style writing. The characters are as complex as the situations that surround them. Claims that this book is slow, tedious, and boring are not unfounded. There is certainly a contingency of readers who will absolutely hate this book. There will also be just as many who name it among their favorites.

If you start reading this book and are not intrigued by the first 100 pages or so, then you would probably do best by moving onto something else. The pacing and tone of the book remain fairly consistent throughout its 800+ pages. If the first 100 bore you, move on. If they intrigue you, then be glad to know that there are 700 more to come.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 1076 more book reviews
This morning I started listening to the audiobook of this story. OMG is it boring! I made it to chapter six, around page 65 before totally giving up on it. I don't think I've ever "read" anything so dry and tedious. I absolutely hated Mr. Norrell. He is so contrary and rude to everyone. Since no one is as good a magician as he is, they aren't even worth talking to. Amazingly enough, all the "magicians" in London, are theoretical magicians who can't do a lick of magic and feel that practical magic users are charlatans. If that is the case, why in the world are they studying magic as if it is a religion.

I wonder if this didn't take place in the 1800s, if it wouldn't have been so dry. Brits from that time period were so stuffy and full of themselves that a story about them was bound to be boring as hell. There is absolutely no way I'm going to read 782 pages (or 26 CDs) of this. I'd end up driving my car off the road because I was bored to death. UGH!
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on
I was not a fan of the writing style. It frustrated me enough that I did not go beyond the 4th chapter.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 8 more book reviews
Victorian England and magic, magic, magic. What more could you want?
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 48 more book reviews
This is a witty tale set in the early 1800s about the return of English Magic to England. Two magicians whose personalities are exactly opposite to one another work together to accomplish this feat.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 40 more book reviews
Not as much fun as I was expecting. It dragged on and on, and right when it seemed to be getting good it fizzled out. Also, most of the foot notes seemed pointless. A few helped move the story, but most of them felt like useless information. And spelling things like "showed" as "shewed" was just plain annoying, not quaint or atmospheric. All in all, I was very disappointed. "His Majesty's Dragon" by Naomi Novik is a much better alternative.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 14 more book reviews
This book was just ok. Parts of it were very funny but in general it didn't hold my interest as well as some books. I had no problem putting it down where with many books I have to force myself to put it down and go to bed. The last 300 pages were a little better - by that time, the story was getting wrapped up so a little more was happening. Overall it was so-so. Not horrible, but not fantastic, either.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on
Wordy but it moved right along, marching toward the foregone conclusion. Well worth the time
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 40 more book reviews
A strange and excellent book that will be made all the more delightful should the reader possess a passing or greater acquaintance with 18th and 19th century British history.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 8 more book reviews
I could not finish this book, which I absolutely hate to not finish a book. Having said that, it's not a bad book, I'm just not into fantasy type books. I think it would be an excellent read for people that enjoy that kind of book.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 13 more book reviews
Great book overall, loved the magic aspect. Didn't care too much for the many footnotes. I thought the book continued on beyond what I thought was a logical ending.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 38 more book reviews
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel starts slow and has a style that takes you back to a more civilized, "gentlemanly" time. It could put some people to sleep, but the subject matter is interesting and the alternate world-building going on here is some of the best around. I found myself totally buying in to Clarke's mythology and I loved the story. Bits and pieces still come back to me today and it's been a couple of years since I read it. Highly recommended.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 5 more book reviews
At times dry and droning, but overall an enjoyable read with interesting characters.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 962 more book reviews
Widely regarded as one of the best works of the modern fantasy canon, JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL was a book Ive been meaning to read for a while. And while every one of these 1000 or so pages is evidence of literary brilliance, it wasnt something I was fully emotionally invested in. Still, though, Im glad I finally read it.

Susanna Clarke takes the subgenre Regency fantasy to a whole new level with her superb command of that time periods language. Think Austen with a heavy dose of magical elements: not only was the language reminiscent of Regency England times, but Austens almost insidious portrayal of ridiculous people had a heavy showing in JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL. While Strange and Norrell are arguably the main characters of the eponymous novel, we readers dont really like them the way we usually do protagonists, because most of them are not good people: Norrell in particular manipulate nearly everyone out of fear of a loss of influence, meanwhile letting his even-less-appealing friends manipulate him in turn. All the unsavory characters in the book make Jonathan Strange look very good indeed, but hes no real wounded hero, just another self-centered guy who does not give enough consideration to others in his life.

That, I guess, is what ultimately disappointed me about this book: it doesnt break any conventions or tread new ground in terms of genre or sociohistorical issues. Clarke crafts an alternate, magician-focused history for England, but, with the exception of head-scratchingly long footnotes showing just how in-depth Clarke has got with her alternate history creativity, JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL didnt blow me out of the water with originality in its fantasy genre.

Additionallyand this may just be meI found it a bit off-putting how small a role women played in the novel. For a book written by a female author, I had expected a bit more subversion of historical attitudes toward the role of males vs. females in society; yes, the book doesnt attempt to focus on the inequality and tensions between different parties, but I was surprised that the book didnt take such a step with potentially strong and interesting female characters such as Arabella Strange and Mrs. Pole. No, at the end of the day, things and people seemed to be pretty much what they had been before the book started, which results in readers confusion along the lines of, I just spent three weeks reading 1000 pagesand did anything significant really happen? Hrmph.

So, in some ways, reading JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL was for me like reading a classic that the great authorities of literature say is a must-read but on a personal level was a slog to get through. While I certainly appreciated Clarkes Austenian writing style, I closed the book realizing that 500 pages couldve been cut out and I would have thought nothing was amiss.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 1107 more book reviews
On the basis of its accolades and the many glowing reviews, I decided to give this book a try. About 50 pages in, however, I had to give up. The prose was opaque, the story was slow, and nothing--not the characters, the setting, or the premise--sparked my interest at all. Apparently the book appealed to many people, but I couldn't see the point of continuing.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 2 more book reviews
It was really hard to get into this book simply for the fact that there are footnotes. It doesn't read like a story but an intellectual research paper.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 2 more book reviews
This is a great book, an alternate history of Napoleonic-era Britain, where magic works, but it is ungentlemanly to practice it. Wonderful, challenging language.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 13 more book reviews
This is one of my favorite books ever.

Be prepared. It's LONG. So, if you think a book over 200 pages is too long winded or the author can't get to the point, this isn't for you.

If, however, you like a book that's funny, original, thought provoking and intricately plotted you
will love it.

I sank into this book and it kept me up nights for a couple of weeks because I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen to the characters and to see if the bad guys were really bad and the good ones as good as they appeared. It wove a very effective spell and I was immersed in a world where magic was real and the magicians held real power and questions of good and evil were not philosophical, but practical everyday matters.

Laughed out loud, cried, and loved every page and off the wall footnote.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 20 more book reviews
Wonderful writing! Transporting!
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 99 more book reviews
I actually couldn't get through this one. I know it's supposed to be fantastic, but I just couldn't keep reading. I've picked it up about five different times and haven't gotten through the first part.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 384 more book reviews
I liked this book very much, so much that I heard it on audio and then went and bought a hardcover keeper copy.

I see that the British have a television serialization in the works for 2014. In preproduction now, no cast announced. It'll show on BBC America here. I will be looking forward to seeing it.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 37 more book reviews
My cover is not in perfect condition but then this book is a REAL read-1006 pages. A story about when magic came back to England.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 70 more book reviews
New York Times Bestseller and Time Magazine's #1 Book of the Year
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 39 more book reviews
"Ravishing...Combines the dark mythology of fantasy with the delicious social commentary of Jane Austen into A MASTERPIECE OF THE GENRE THAT RIVALS TOLKIEN." Time
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 902 more book reviews
Readers of this book will fall into one of two categories: those who love it and can't put it down vs those who find it too tedious and slow to finish.

I fall into the category of those who loved this book. I found it steady and compelling, even though the plot was subtle and the action subdued. For me, this book possessed that unidentifiable hook that drew me in at the very beginning and kept me interested to the very end.

This book provides a unique blend of magic, mystery, mythology, and Victorian-style writing. The characters are as complex as the situations that surround them. Claims that this book is slow, tedious, and boring are not unfounded. There is certainly a contingency of readers who will absolutely hate this book. There will also be just as many who name it among their favorites.

If you start reading this book and are not intrigued by the first 100 pages or so, then you would probably do best by moving onto something else. The pacing and tone of the book remain fairly consistent throughout its 800+ pages. If the first 100 bore you, move on. If they intrigue you, then be glad to know that there are 700 more to come.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 21 more book reviews
This is one of my all-time favorite books, and I recently purchased a hardcover edition so I'm free to share this paperback with someone new! It is so realistically and intimately detailed that more than once I had to remind myself that, no, magicians did not significantly influence the course of British history (that we know of, anyway).
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 44 more book reviews
I feel tired now. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was certainly one of the most tiresome, tedious books that I've ever read. But it was also one of the most wonderful. I feel as if I've been enchanted just like many of the characters.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 12 more book reviews
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! My only regret was that this book wasn't twice as long. Superbly and beautifully written... you just don't see literature like this these days. While it's not a "page turner", per se, it was a steady, engrossing read that made me glad to reenter the world Clarke created over and over again. I'll be keeping my copy on the shelf with my Austen, Tolkien, and Bronte.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 49 more book reviews
Starred Review. There may be no better marriage of talents than that of Clarke and Prebble. The former spins an enchanting, epic tale of English magic in the age of Napoleon, and the latter brings it to lifeâfootnotes and allâwith a full-bodied voice, skill and aplomb that rivals that of noted narrator Jim Dale. Set in a world where the study of theoretical magic is common, but the practice of it is unheard of, this sweeping narrative follows the exploits of England's only two practical magicians, the bookish Mr. Norrell and the affable Jonathan Strange, as they struggle to revive the country's magic in very different ways.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 26 more book reviews
Sorry, but I didn't like this book at all. The footnotes drove me crazy and I eventually started skipping them. I felt like I was at a secret club meeting that I wasn't a member of and didn't understand. I hate that I wasted over 700 pages of good reading time on this. It wasn't my typical genre, so I asked my son what he thought and I got a shrug and an "it was only OK". So I know this doesn't go with the popular opinion, but I won't read a second book by the author if she ever does one.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 30 more book reviews
Long--Much hype about this book so I was dissappointed--writing was good but pacing was slow and book felt longer than it needed to be.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 33 more book reviews
This is not a book that will appeal to everyone. When I started it I thought I might be one of those people. It felt so slow moving at first. But by the time I finished, it has landed a spot on a list of my favorite books. Well-developed and unforgettable characters, a believable world with an alternate history, humor...I'll be re-reading this one for sure.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 11 more book reviews
Wow! This is one epic book. It is such a great mix of Fantasy and Historical Fiction. It does start off a little slow but picks up pretty fast. Clarke's footnotes alone could be made into a book of short stories. My only complaint is how long it is. I feel like she could have made this into 3 separate books. I listened to this as well as reading the hardcover. Simon Prebble does a great job narrating with different voices for all of the different characters found within this massive book. If you have the time, it's a must read/listen
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 768 more book reviews
Like Harry Potter for grownups. This was a winner of the Hugo Award and winner of the World Fantasy Award. The jacket blurb says: "At the dawn of the 19th century two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England - until the reclusive Mr. Norrell reveals his powers and becomes a celebrity overnight. Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilious forces of magic, straining his partnership with Norell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear." USA Today said "What kind of magic can make an 800 page novel seem too short? Whatever it is, Susanna Clarke is possessed by it."
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 89 more book reviews
Got this book based on other's reviews. Meh, didn't like it, gave up after about 80 pages.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 39 more book reviews
Very interesting, if a bit dry sometimes.Captures the age nicely.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 962 more book reviews
Widely regarded as one of the best works of the modern fantasy canon, JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL was a book Ive been meaning to read for a while. And while every one of these 1000 or so pages is evidence of literary brilliance, it wasnt something I was fully emotionally invested in. Still, though, Im glad I finally read it.

Susanna Clarke takes the subgenre Regency fantasy to a whole new level with her superb command of that time periods language. Think Austen with a heavy dose of magical elements: not only was the language reminiscent of Regency England times, but Austens almost insidious portrayal of ridiculous people had a heavy showing in JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL. While Strange and Norrell are arguably the main characters of the eponymous novel, we readers dont really like them the way we usually do protagonists, because most of them are not good people: Norrell in particular manipulate nearly everyone out of fear of a loss of influence, meanwhile letting his even-less-appealing friends manipulate him in turn. All the unsavory characters in the book make Jonathan Strange look very good indeed, but hes no real wounded hero, just another self-centered guy who does not give enough consideration to others in his life.

That, I guess, is what ultimately disappointed me about this book: it doesnt break any conventions or tread new ground in terms of genre or sociohistorical issues. Clarke crafts an alternate, magician-focused history for England, but, with the exception of head-scratchingly long footnotes showing just how in-depth Clarke has got with her alternate history creativity, JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL didnt blow me out of the water with originality in its fantasy genre.

Additionallyand this may just be meI found it a bit off-putting how small a role women played in the novel. For a book written by a female author, I had expected a bit more subversion of historical attitudes toward the role of males vs. females in society; yes, the book doesnt attempt to focus on the inequality and tensions between different parties, but I was surprised that the book didnt take such a step with potentially strong and interesting female characters such as Arabella Strange and Mrs. Pole. No, at the end of the day, things and people seemed to be pretty much what they had been before the book started, which results in readers confusion along the lines of, I just spent three weeks reading 1000 pagesand did anything significant really happen? Hrmph.

So, in some ways, reading JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL was for me like reading a classic that the great authorities of literature say is a must-read but on a personal level was a slog to get through. While I certainly appreciated Clarkes Austenian writing style, I closed the book realizing that 500 pages couldve been cut out and I would have thought nothing was amiss.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 20 more book reviews
Gotta like magic.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 24 more book reviews
I tried really hard but couldn't get into it. I wanted it to be something between Harry Potter and Jane Austen, and it's just not.
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 15 more book reviews
What you and I would say in two words this author says in six words - 1006 pages
reviewed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on + 11 more book reviews
Some people may like this, but I found it to be so boring that I could not finish it