Review of 'Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell'

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

jonathan_strange_and_mr_norrell.jpg It is the beginning of the 19th century in England. Mr. Norrell, an opinionated and self-centered magician is called upon to help is country in it's war against the French. Mr. Strange is the younger man who excels at anything he puts his mind to – In this case he sets his mind to become a magician and ends up being an apprentice under Mr. Norrell in London. After Strange is called to help with the war effort in Spain he returns a changed man. The rift deepens between them with egos and ideologies clashing to disastrous effect both to themselves and the people around them. Norrell's determination that he is to be the only magician in the country with complacent and “safe” magic goes against Strange's approach which seeks to train others in the art as well as learn from the “dark arts” of John Uskglass – The so-called “Raven King”.

Clarke has woven a very believable tale of magic in 19th century England along with an equally believable history of magic (with copious footnotes and back stories). Heavy with the classical Victorian-style of writing I found this novel fairly heavy going but with many very good characters and a wealth of background. A long read at just over 1000 pages, it is easy to see why Clarke has won so many awards for this her first novel.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2006-12-08

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: 2004

ISBN: 9780747579885

Other reviewed books by Susanna Clarke: