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.