Although I noted a number of bad reviews, I downloaded this book solely based on its having won the 2005 Hugo Award. I have never been dissappointed by a Hugo or Nebula Award winning novel, and I am happy to say that this was one of the best. The question I address here is why there are so many mixed reviews, and I believe the answer lies in the slow start. The author spends a great deal of time (perhaps too much time) setting the stage, both in terms of character development and the ambience of the 1800s. I enjoyed it, but it is clear that many readers/listeners found it boring. But if you can make it through the first 8 hours, you will be rewarded with a wonderful experience. The reader is excellent, the characters have depth, the plot is sophisticated and while hard to follow, worth it. Many of the footnotes are enjoyable, and the reader handles them well and does not let them hinder the momentum. I strongly recommend this book. This novel, and American Gods, are the two best of the year for me.
This is a wonderful and complex story. It is absolutely unpredictable.
Childermass. In the most spoiler-free way of putting it, the story wouldn't happen without him.
Perfectly suitably British,
The History of English Magic.
It seems that halfway through the narrator forgets which characters he's doing and what their(the characters') motives are. The inflections in certain people change- I think this is mostly due to the large 'cast' of characters in the book....anyone would get lost! Overall, the narrator''s accent and tone fit the book perfectly, but you will be confused on who-is-who at points.Furthermore, this is one of the most wonderful and surprising books I've ever read and listened to. I find often in fiction I can 'predict' where a story will go, and I could never do that with this story- even up until the end! I highly recommend this book!
This is the longest audiobook I've listened to (of about 50-60 total), and it's also the only one I've listened to twice. I love it, and can't recommend it enough. The reader was soooo good, I can't imagine ever reading this on my own. I love the world that's built here, wholly original, with good magic and a good sense for what makes good "rules" of magic. I wish I could read myself into this world over and over, via sequel upon sequel. Doubt that's going to happen, but I can always re-read, right?
This book is a marvel--of language, of plot, of ingenuity, of style. Clarke's turns of phrase literally made me SMILE to myself during my commute. The story engaging, Prebble's performance just stunning. I was sad when it was all over. I hope Ms. Clarke is husbanding her energies for another tour de force such as this.
This was fair story that takes time to unfold. The first one third of the book was a bit of a snore.
I will likely read more from this author because the universe that is created is interesting.
I thought it was a beautifully written book and I thought the narrator did a good job. I liked the footnotes and found them interesting. But, the story was way too long and kind of boring. I think it would have been a better book if it were shorter and tighter...if that makes sense.
This novel came together so elegantly that every unexpected twist felt as if one should have seen it coming, and Clarke's prose was a delight to the ear. I especially enjoyed the digressions into the history of magic.
I purchased this book based on the description and reviews. I see it's won an award now, but the only way I can describe it is PAIN.
This is my genre, I love the variety and depth, but for some reason I just cannot listen to this book. I've tried several times. There hasn't been one time where I've found the story intriguing. Somehow it's annoying, tedious, and quickly into it, I dread the next chapter.
I don't normally pan books - to each her own - but I have such a strong reaction to this one and I have no idea why. Anyone else have such a negative feel for this?
I would suggest this as an abridged version. It became slow and ponderous about half way through and I caught myself thinking "Will this never end???" Characters are interesting and story is quite good but have not recommended it to my friends...
The story found within Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is excellent (four to five stars), but all too often one is left with the notion that the book could have been better served with an editor and/or an abridgement. Listening to this story was like sitting next to the talkative stranger on a train, the one ever so eager to tell you of their adventures, but all too often jumps from here to there with needless distractions to the actual story they are attempting to convey. It's as if Susanna Clarke imagined that this was the only book that she might ever have published, so she included every little mind-wandering short-story she prosed during the grander pursuit of developing the actual tale of one Jonathan Strange and one Mr. Norell.
Too many times, I felt compelled to poke the narrator with a stick as to spur him back onto the path of the actual story--which was no fault of the narrator, but rather simply the pace and meandering of the written story. As narrators go, I was quite pleased with Simon Prebble performance.
While the story could have left me eager for a sequel, the plodding pace left me ever so reluctant.