Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel CoverIn keeping with my goals from the Hugo reading project I finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke yesterday. My review of the book is: A delight and I’ll never read it again.

I won’t re-read it because it’s a freaking thousand page tome! It’s huge, and would probably have been better read in the hardback. The paperback started to give me hand cramps and I found it necessary to break one of my most fundamental rules with respect to paperbacks: Never Bend The Spines. The middle section required it or I would have had to take breaks to keep my left hand from yelling at me.

This book was a delight because of the detailed interweaving of current events, backstory, “historical” tidbits and character development that at times threatened to overwhelm the reader. The story begins in the first decade of the 19th Century, set in England, and chronicles the re-establishment of English Magic throughout the isles of Britain. The failures and victories of the two title characters make up approximately 60% of the volume with the rest being attributed to the various people in orbit around them and the footnotes (many many footnotes) concerning the history of English Magic. The tone of the novel is Edwardian and if you are a fan of Jane Austen or any of the “society novels” set in England, you’ll like this book.

There are a bevy of characters but Ms. Clarke introduces them in a fashion that makes it easy to keep track of who is who. Not like some other authors I can name for whom you need a Dramatis Personae list to have a clue.

Two thumbs up! Yay for the Hugo Project!

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