October 30, 2008

Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
by Susanna Clarke

After a year of on-again/off-again effort I have finally done it. I have finished reading the 846 page monster that is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Hallelujah!

"Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me; the first shall be governed by thieves and murderers; the second shall conspire at his own destruction; the first shall bury his heart in a dark wood beneath the snow, yet still feel its ache; the second shall see his dearest possession in his enemy's hand..."

It sounds interesting huh? And it comes with many accolades from critics and bloggers alike. The book is a complete history of the make believe world of magical 1800s England. Susanna Clarke did a thorough job of making this world of hers seem like it was based on something real. The characters are caricatures but that's what makes them lovable.

But the huge size of it could certainly be a turn off. If you are looking for something that will keep you on the edge of your seat or be compelling enough to keep you interested for the entire 850 pages you will be disappointed. It moves very slowly, developing the magicians' relationship with each other over a ten year period. But the characters and the history is so well developed that if you can stick it out you will be rewarded near the end with suspense and the remorse one feels when a book is over. The best way to handle it is in small steady mouthfuls. I read 2 chapters a night and was amazed by my progress. Each chapter or two is a little story unto itself making this way of reading much easier. It lets you progress without getting too bored with the pace.

It was a perfect fit for finishing off the RIP III Challenge which ends today. Ah, just in the nick of time. And it is another title crossed off the Wind-Up Book Chronicle Challenge. Very satisfying.

Buy this book from Amazon.

8 comments:

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

This book has been sitting on my shelf, unread, for at least a year. Thanks for the reminder that I really must read this book!

You've also been tagged for the "7 Random Facts Tag - Reader's Edition" over at A Reader's Respite! Come on over to view your instructions. ;)

bermudaonion said...

Congratulations on tackling that one.

Chain Reader said...

This is on my shelf waiting to be read also. Maybe when I'm done with Daniel Deronda, another huge one!

Beth F said...

I loved this book -- but I did listen to it instead of read it. I thought it was fascinating. It was a long listen, but I finished it in good time.

SmallWorld at Home said...

What an accomplishment!!

I have been reading reviews of The 19th Wife circulating on book blogs lately. I must say it is tempting!!

Nicole said...

I have and am utterly afraid to read that books. It's so long. I have it. Maybe I will do like you and read a chapter or so a night and read other things. I get stressed out thinking about reading one book for weeks and weeks.

Rhinoa said...

I read it last year and really enjoyed it. Like you say it's amazing how quickly you get through it.

farmlanebooks said...

Congratulations on finishing it! I read it a few years ago. It is a good story, but as you say it is a bit long, and needs a bit of commitment, as it isn't very fast paced.