Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Sussana Clark

This book was recommended to me when it came out awhile ago and then was recommended to me again a couple years ago by Joy Killyjoy, the ’52 Spitfire. They told me that it was a “winter book”. And, I took that to mean that it is a book that should be read in winter (Although, I think what they meant was, “This is a book you should read when you don’t have a lot else on.”) It is a gorgeous book with a really muted color palette (can books have color palettes?) I pictured everything that happened in this book, even the parts that happen on the plains of Spain, were tinted with grey. This is the story of Mr. Norrell, the last real magician in England, and his apprentice Jonathan Strange. It chronicles their rise to stardom in the public eye, their eventual break as master and apprentice and the aftermath of that break. It was a really fantastic read. I enjoyed the characters, even when I found them haughty and overbearing. (I suppose if I were trying to revive English magic, I too, might come off as a complete dick or a stick in the mud.) And, the supporting characters were fantastic! The subplots that follow Stephen and the wives really kept my attention. The tale of the magicians is also bound up in the history of magic in this alternate England, and that was also really interesting. To introduce all of this alternate history, there were a lot of digressions and footnotes. I found this amusing but I could imagine that others might not be so keen on all the footnotes.

This was an incredibly long book, though, and I think the only reason why I was able to read it during the school year is that I wasn’t reading it but listening to it. (This novel fueled my before bed knitting of the Accola shawl that I knit during the Olympics.) I got this book from Audible.

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2 Responses to Review: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Sussana Clark

  1. Joe says:

    Question: How do the footnotes work for an audiobook? Are they read right after they’re tagged in the text, or at the end of a page/chapter, or what? I loved JS&MN and I’m glad they kept the footnotes, since those are so integral to the story and the worldbuilding… I’m just having a hard time imagining how to incorporate them into an audiobook!

  2. Kate says:

    They’re read right after they’re tagged. I really enjoyed them and they are quite integral to the worldbuilding and the story!