Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

No, I haven’t been swallowed whole by the vagaries of the internetz. Yes, I’ve also been reading all this while. But I’m not up for long and detailed reviews so what I’ll do is post snippets on what I’ve read in the last two months through the next couple of days or so. Here’s the first one.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell reads exactly like what it purports to be—a history of magic in early 19th century Britain. It doesn’t really have a very plot-like beginning, middle and ending. There is, of course, a coherent story but one is left with the sense of there not being really a point to any of it till one realizes that well, this is, as the author would like us to have, a narrative of the history of magic.

As behooves a narrative about history, the book has hundreds of footnotes as contextual explanations. The footnotes expand on and give the backstories of the persons and events that are referred to in the main tale. These footnotes are stories unto themselves and in my opinion one of the best features of the book. The two main characters are sketched and drawn out really well. I didn’t like Mr. Norell initially—exactly, I think, as Miss Clarke intended.

However, this is a LONG book and normally, I’m one to enjoy excessive details and don’t require a reason for all the minutiae. But Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was a bit much for me—I’m glad I made it through to the end of the book but I certainly did not see what the fuss (about this book) was all about!

2 thoughts on “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

  1. Aw, shame. I loved this book, and I’ve reread it a dozen times since it was published. Were you not crazy about it all the way through, or did you just reach the end and not feel sure why you’d read such an enormous tome? (I have this theory that anybody who enjoys the first two chapters of JS&MN will enjoy the book, but if that theory is wrong I should know about it so I can stop telling it to people. :p)

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    • So I fall in the category of really enjoying the first two chapters (I loved the description of all those ancient statues and carvings coming to life and speaking of the wrongs they wished to be righted!) but also not being sure of why I read such an enormous tome 😀

      P.S. I also found the thistle-down haired man really annoying! I wanted to thwack his head with the tome of the book. (Sorry, I read your review and think you on the other hand really enjoyed his pompousness!) 😛

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