To young men of a studious turn of mind, who did not desire to go into the Church or the Law, magic was very appealing, particularly since Strange had triumphed on the battlefields of Europe. It is, after all, many centuries since clergymen distinguished themselves on the field of war, and lawyers never have.
It is my settled custom to delay discovering great novels until everybody else has already praised the life out of them. And so it is with Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. A marvelous, original conception carried off with what looks like effortless grace, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a sprawling, lengthy epic in the heroic fantasy vein, but set in early 19th Century England and narrated in a style reminiscent of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen (and probably other Victorian authors of whom I’m ignorant. I was always a little weak on my 19th Century English fiction). If you’re looking for headlong, fast-paced adventure, this is not the book for you. This is a leisurely book, whose pleasures are subtle ones. I found it totally delightful.
(I might also add that I forgot the author’s name, and could not recall throughout my reading whether the author was a man or a woman. Coming from me, that’s high praise.) Continue reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke