Monday, October 22, 2007

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

I did not enjoy Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke at all. It was originally published in 2004. My paperback copy has 1006 pages.

As written by one Amazon reviewer, "I really enjoyed the author's subtle wit through out the story, but I think I would have enjoyed it much more if the book weighed in at 250 pages rather than 1000. I even found myself struggling to finish the book even though I had a 10 hour lay over in an airport."

Since I didn't have a lay over ahead of me that forced me to finish, I finally even gave up skimming through the book at about page 600. At the beginning of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell I took note of several well written passages. Once I threw in the towel, or rather tossed the paperback aside, I decided that even noting well written passages was no longer worth my time. When you hear someone say Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell could be by Tolkien, don't believe it for a second. I've read and reread Tolkien for years and never been bored with it. This is not recommended.

"It's 1808 and that Corsican upstart Napoleon is battering the English army and navy. Enter Mr. Norrell, a fusty but ambitious scholar from the Yorkshire countryside and the first practical magician in hundreds of years. What better way to demonstrate his revival of British magic than to change the course of the Napoleonic wars? Susanna Clarke's ingenious first novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, has the cleverness and lightness of touch of the Harry Potter series, but is less a fairy tale of good versus evil than a fantastic comedy of manners, complete with elaborate false footnotes, occasional period spellings, and a dense, lively mythology teeming beneath the narrative. Mr. Norrell moves to London to establish his influence in government circles, devising such powerful illusions as an 11-day blockade of French ports by English ships fabricated from rainwater. But however skillful his magic, his vanity provides an Achilles heel, and the differing ambitions of his more glamorous apprentice, Jonathan Strange, threaten to topple all that Mr. Norrell has achieved. A sparkling debut from Susanna Clarke--and it's not all fairy dust. --Regina Marler --"

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