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.
Lots of great ideas in this book. The relationship between magic and English society was original and interesting. Great imagery and some strong characters.
I was frustrated at times that the author went on about side events when the core storyline would have sufficed. In other words, this book would be better if it were trimmed a bit. At times you are not sure where Susanna Clarke is taking you.
the last 4 hours are worth the whole listen. The book sounded as if it were written by a contemporary of dickens. It sweeps you away into the world of Magical Gentlemen.
I've been listening to books for less than a year now, but I think it'll be tough to beat this one. The virtual England created by Ms. Clarke is perfectly realized, richly described. The characters are all fascinating and believable. And this is the first book I've listened to where I think I may have enjoyed the experience even more than if I had actually read it. Simon Prebble deserves the audible equivalent of an oscar for his performance. 30 hours was too short!
I usually am pretty forgiving with reviews but this one was painful to get through. It is filled with side comments and fictional historical accounts that add little to the story. This was a real chore to finish. If the book was edited down to a 1/4 of it's size it would be much better.
This novel is a very pleasant surprise. It starts slow to establish the world of 1800's London, and the way of speaking took a bit to get used to, but this groundwork was soon appreciated when the novel takes off and doesn't stop until the last pages. This is a tale of old English magic, no wands here but the world does have the beautiful appearance with strange and terrible things lying in wait just under the surface. Once magic is actually practiced after a few hours of reading, the book hooks the reader and pulls them into a world of dualing magicians, war with Napoleon and a hidden Faerie realm with terrible secrets and dark kings. I only wish there was more I could read on this alternative English history, magic integrated into the world as an open profession and the affects throughout society is a concept I hadn't seen before, but the author does an incredible job with it.
I enjoyed this novel and found the narrator did a good job capturing the characters. Clarke created an interesting world of magic and fairies and managed to weave in some solid history. At times, the plot got a bit too intricate though. I listened to the entire book and enjoyed it, but I've certainly listened to some I enjoyed more (but when you compare everything to Ken Follet and Byrce Courtenay, most everything else will be lacking). If you're looking for a decent listen and don't expect to be blown away, this one is worth a credit.
verrry sloww start, like the first half of the book at least, but ends well and while the first part was painfull to get through, the information gained there, and the feel you get for the characters makes the journey worth it. it's like struggling up a mountain on a shadowed trail and bursting onto a sunlit view of the valley below. the endorfins are coarsing through your veins, you feel great, and it's all down hill ahead.