Review of 'The Ladies of Grace Adieu (and other stories)'

The Ladies of Grace Adieu (and other stories) by Susanna Clarke

the_ladies_of_grace_adieu.jpg This collection of short stories is set in the same world as Clarke's “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” (though you do not need to have read that first - though it would certainly help the appreciation of this second instalment) - England in the 19th century where magic and faeries are, if not common, accepted as real. Indeed, in this book we see Mr Strange make an appearance in the “The Ladies of Grace Adieu” story where he visits Grace Adieu and the mysterious ladies. One of the strong elements of Clarke's first work was that it was told with such conviction and in the style of the time. Here this style continues in an assortment of stories ranging from the “Fairy King” (John Uskglass) the subject of revenge from a mere mortal (“John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner”) to the Duke of Wellington paying a visit to the world of “Wall” seen in Neil Gaiman/Charles Viss's “Stardust” in search of his horse (“The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse”) to a village visitor befriending a local fairy resident (“Mr Simmonelli or The Fairy Widower”). A wide selection of stories indeed and often in different styles to suit the events - “John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner” is a “retelling” of a popular English folktale and is told in the same way - As a folktale.

Some of the stories are quite disturbing, I am thinking here of “Mr Simmonelli or The Fairy Widower” where the deception of the fairy in enslaving a village woman is quite shocking.

I found all of the stories here enjoyable with each story tricky to guess as to what exactly was going to happen. Well written and very convincing. I can't say I really, REALLY enjoyed it but it was interesting.

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

Review Date: 2015-01-02

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: 2006

ISBN: 9780747592402

Other reviewed books by Susanna Clarke: