But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr. Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England's magical past and regained some of the powers of England's magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.
All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative, the very opposite of Mr. Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington's army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr. Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr. Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange's heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.
Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke's magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that 32 hours leave readers longing for more.
©2004 Susanna Clarke; (P)2004 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, and Bloomsbury Publishing
"A smashing success....An exceptionally compelling, brilliantly creative, and historically fine-tuned piece of work." (Booklist)
"Extraordinary....Immersion in the mesmerizing story reveals its intimacy, humor, and insight, and will enchant readers of fantasy and literary fiction alike." (Publishers Weekly)
"Ravishing...superb...combines the dark mythology of fantasy with the delicious social comedy of Jane Austen into a masterpiece of the genre that rivals Tolkien." (Time)
"Clarke welcomes herself into an exalted company of British writers - not only, some might argue, Dickens and Austen, but also the fantasy legends Kenneth Grahame and George MacDonald - as well as contemporary writers like Susan Cooper and Philip Pullman." (The New York Times Book Review)
I am not an elegant writer and probably will not express myself as I mean to. however, I enjoyed this novel very much. Susanna Clarke is a very polished word smith. Nothing in what she writes is forced, it all flows as a wonderful story. Parts are less interesting to *me* personally, but that has to do with personal taste. In general I thought the novel very humorous and with the exception of her failing to properly explain why a certain faerie should happen to so suddenly decide to ruin people's lives in England, although he had certainly existed for a very long time, the plot was well developed. There were also many loose ends which made me think a sequel was in order ... or maybe the author was just leaving room for one's own imagination. That is not my favorite strategy, because I think (alas) the author's imagination must be quite more vivid than my own at this stage in my adult life. So naturally, I want the loose ends sown up. Does Stephen ever get together with the Mrs. Brandy, and what happens with the gold she found? Ah well, maybe I slept through that part.
I like authors that spend time setting the scene adding ambiance but man does she spend a lot of time on describing things that are off in left field.
First 5 hours are pretty slow but after that it gets going.
Not just for the story, but for the voice that brings it alive, do I love this audio version of this wonderous novel.
I'm only about an hour into part 2 of this audiobook, and it's really starting to grate on my nerves. The story is advancing so slowly that I honestly don't know if I'm going to be able to stand it long enough to finish it. What a waste of a credit...
This book was delightful. It starts out a little dry, but if you pay attention, you catch the marvelous wit of the prose and the subtle ironies in the story. The world of the book is rich and fascinating, the characters are human and realistically layered (with the exception of the Gentleman, of course, who is *inhuman* and unpredictable - a lovely presentation of fairies!), and the story is rather fun.
The book follows English magicians Mr. Norrell and his pupil Jonathan Strange in their endeavors to restore the practice of English magic to a land where the study of magic has dwindled to mere theory. It takes place in an alternate version of early 1800's England and Europe, and reads like a long-winded biography, complete with informative asides and footnotes. The transitions from story to footnote to story can be hard to follow if you're not paying attention, but they add a lot to the tone of the book and are entertaining nonetheless.
This is a book that I plan to add to my personal collection in hard copy as well, as there are a lot of parts and passages that were particularly fun, and I wanted to share it with others while I was listening. Highly recommended.
One of the best books I have listened to/read in a long time. Winds magic around England in the time of Napoleon Bonaparte. Laugh-out-loud funny, but also creepy/scary. Always credible. Wonderful language. Changed my views on magic.
The book is a long listen and requires a bit of a commitment, but it is well worth the length. It is more like a volume of several stories and plots that are joined together to make a novel. I honestly loved every minute of the book and found excuses to drive or do mindless tasks so I could listen to the book. The ending is fantastic as well. The book was perfect for the Halloween season, filled with the right balance of magic and ordinary. The narrator also did a good job of conveying the story using different voices when appropriate.
The first 30 or so chapters were ultra boring. The next few were OK but not great. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen. In vain. I didn't even make it to the end! Disappointing.
This work starts slow. In fact, I thought was a bit tedious going into the detail it did, but getting through that in developed the characters and the interwoven aspects of society and events at the turn of the 19th century served the ultimate plot and ploy of the book well. The worf and weave of the story has made a tapestry worth viewing. It shows a rich landscape of what a magical world would be like - not exactly like Harry Potter.
Particular about products!
I was enthralled by this book! I listened to it at home at bedtime, and I loved being taken into this mesmerizing dream-world as I detached from all the real-world concerns of my day. Certainly the great storytelling, and I think the period setting as well, eased my acceptance of the magical aspect, as the skeptic in me didn't bother trying to draw my attention away from total absorption. It did have a bit of a slow start, but I guess I don't mind that, as many of my favorite listens have begun this way. I have given up on a few books before, though, so there had to be something promising. I look forward to enough distance from this book that I can listen again.
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