I looked this book over for months in the stores, but found its length intimidating. Especially since I did not know the author and I have a compulsion that will not allow me to stop reading a book, no matter how bad, until I finish it.
In audio format I thought I would give it a whirl and was very pleasantly surprised. The author is great and the book is extremely well written. For sci-fi/fantasy readers this book has enough of the history of magic, set in WWII England, to keep your interests. However, its the author's amazing writing abilities--being the master of humorous comparisions, analogies and descriptions--that will have any and all readers smiling to themselves.
While traveling on the road, often at 3:00 a.m., this book was extremely entertaining and kept me coming back for more.
Don't be put off by the length. My only regret is that it wasn't longer! The narrator does a great job changing his voice and accent for each character.
This novel is a fresh and unique approach to the lives of the magically inclined. The first footnote concerned me, but soon Clarke's style and foreshadowing swept me along to Lost Hope manor.
I really enjoyed this book even though it was lengthy. I think this book is a better listen than read and I am so glad I gave it a try!
The story is so complex yet easy to follow as the author kindly reminds the listener of a character's relevance. I love stories that tie everyone together in a sensical and believable fashion.
What a clever way to think of magic. I found myself thinking of ways I could use magic. (Like when I bend down fifty times a day to pick up a toy or put on a shoe how handy would it be if a little seat popped up for me to rest on instead of killing my back). I'm sure Jonathan Strange would approve.
As everyone notes, this is a very long story. However, the author uses the length to weave a clever and complex world that is part period piece and part fantasy. The two blend so well that even the most fantastic events and persons are believeable. Ms. Clarke is a brilliant new author and I look forward to many more tales from her fertile imagination and skilled mind.
If you're looking for Tolkien or Harry Potter, this is not it. Dickens is closer. But it totally wraps you in another world - eventually I had to remind myself that the Napoleonic wars were not actually won because of an English magician who later befriends Byron. But I did spend about the the first 5 hours not really sure if I liked it. And the second title character isn't even introduced until about hour 8! But it's definately worth it.
Absolutely this book is clever and witty and tells a charming story about people that you end up caring about. And absolutely there are parts that are so hard to get through that you might want to give up on it. I agree with the previous reviewers who made it - that this is something worth doing and hearing out. If you find yourself struggling with this in the beginning, do yourself a favor and fast-forward a little, or allow yourself to zone out without guilt, you will be glad you didn't quit.
I became so absorbed in the world of Strange and Norrell that when the book ended I felt grieved in spite of the very satisfying ending. This is a brilliantly written, literate novel, and the author is adept at characterization, plot and dialogue. I disagree with the other reviewers' suggestions that it needs editing--not a word should be changed. The narrator, Simon Prebble, has a remarkable talent and is perfectly in tune with the author. I hope this will be the first of many books by Susanna Clarke.
There is a story in all the words, but it is quickly lost. An abriged version is needed that wouls remove 9 out of 10 words. Even then it may be too long. Pass it by.