This was the very first book I downloaded from Audible many years ago and ever since, I have been trying to convince my husband to listen/read it. Finally, we have begun commuting together and he chose this as our first listen, after my years of nagging. I was so nervous and excited that he was finally going to experience something I love unreservedly, but afraid he wouldn't get it. It is not for everyone, for sure. The pace is languid, the characters are revealed slowly, the plot is not very ... plotty. It's a book full of surprises and moments of true magic, but it is not a whiz bang kind of book. It's not showy and yet it is a totally engrossing story.
We listened for over an hour on our first commute. He chuckled in all the right places, but I still wasn't getting a sense of what he thought. And then when we finally arrived at work, he turned it off, turned to me and said the three words I wanted to hear: "I love it." Yay!
It's an alternate reality world in which magic exists/existed, but that's about all it has in common with Harry Potter. It's a pitch-perfect send-up of Regency-era writing, with Dickensian overtones (I find the dry humor to be very Dickens, and hilarious). It's also a gentle satire of academics and historians, especially in the beginning. Maybe it's because I am an academic who works with historians that I didn't find the beginning boring or slow; those useless debates are very familiar to me and I appreciated the gentle ribbing. I happen to love both 18th century British writing and alternate reality fiction, so this is right up my alley.
No, and that's really a crime because he is fantastic. He's not a narrator, he's a voice actor. There is a huge difference. He doesn't just read the book, he inhabits it and every one of its characters.
I just adore it. It's so many things. Alternate history, 18th century novel, satire, philosophical text. Other people wait for George R.R. Martin's next, I am waiting for Susanna Clarke to write another book. Her book of short stories is also quite good (I read it in print) but it's not enough!
I can't recommend this book enough. It's in my top ten, and I'm a pretty voracious reader/listener.
I just finished this book. It is intense and reads like an amazingly well researched historical fiction book of 1800s Great Britain. I loved the intricate characters and detailed history of magic
I had read the book when first released and been extremely impressed at the scope of Clarke's vision and the methods she employs to execute it. Prebble's narration is so perfect that he brought even greater depth to the content.
I would definitely recommend this.
This is a book that one wishes would never end. Perfectly crafted, witty, entrancing, highly original, with numerous fine characterizations and a gripping plot. The reader is perfect as well.
Susanna Clarke, if you are reading this, I look forward eagerly to more of your work.
This book starts off very slowly and takes a while to come together. I stopped reading for a couple months before finally restarting and finishing it. I think the world and mythology are really well done but you don't really get into the meat of it until the back half of the book. The last half/quarter of the book was very good and made the slow start worth the time invested. So, while the pace is a little out of whack I ended up enjoying it in the end.
All the reviews said to stick with it and this would be so great. Well, I stuck with it and did not see what everyone else did. Not sure I would have finished it if the narration wasn't so great. Would not recommend.
This book is unusual enough that I don't want to compare it to others. I will say that I would recommend it only to my friends with a strong literary bent and a load of patience.
It took a long time to woo me, but by the end I loved it. Nonetheless, finishing it was a relief.
The narrator doe an excellent job. Each character has his or her own voice. The insertion of the many footnotes does not detract from the overall flow of the story - perhaps because it flows so sluggishly.
A Slow Boat to Britain
This is an ODD book. It develops very slowly. I was about a third of the way through the story before I really got into it. The pacing speeds up somewhat as the story progresses. I found that by listening in larger chunks than I usually do, I was able to immerse myself in the book, making it more engaging. The Jane Austen-like prose was pleasing, but I know it is not to everyone's taste. I can see where this would be a polarizing "love it" or "hate it" book.
I have not.
It wouldn't work as a movie. But it would work as a BBC-style TV show.
This is an extremely well written fantasy novel. However, despite the quality of the writing, it is a very dense, slow-paced book. The premise is fascinating, but the book is underwhelming. I completed the entire book, but it was extremely tedious to do so. Frankly, I felt extremely disappointed, because....with the amazing premise and setting….this book could have been much, much better.
Although totally different writing styles, I would compare this book to Game of Thrones for its ability to develop a a very descriptive multi-layered story, amazing plots and subplots, and outstanding character development.
Loved all the main characters but would have to say, that Steven and Jonathan Strange were my favorites.
it seems to me a rare thing that an author can me feel like I know characters as though they are old friends. to the point that finishing this listen, makes me sad in the same way as when I know that I will not see a good friend or brother for a long while.
this book seems to take a more human and practical look at magic, and how it could be the pride of a nation, but also how such a thing could be feared and despised as well as every grey area in between.
the writing style and cadence is paced, but not slow and moves with the story and events naturally. I personally found the footnotes enlightening and humorous, although I suspect that some may find them to be a bit of a distraction.
Simon Prebble only adds to the enjoyment of this book. although I have not listened to anything he has narrated before, I will be listening to some books solely because he is reading them.
His narration is rich and clear, and he seems to have no trouble keeping up with different cadences and intonations of the various characters.