Regular price: $41.97

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

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

Critic Reviews

  • Hugo Award Winner, Best Novel, 2005
  • World Fantasy Award Winner, 2005
  • Audie Award Finalist, Literary Fiction, 2005

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    3,678
  • 4 Stars
    1,716
  • 3 Stars
    813
  • 2 Stars
    408
  • 1 Stars
    322

Performance

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    3,334
  • 4 Stars
    864
  • 3 Stars
    328
  • 2 Stars
    72
  • 1 Stars
    81

Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    2,583
  • 4 Stars
    1,135
  • 3 Stars
    576
  • 2 Stars
    222
  • 1 Stars
    171
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Fantastic book read by a fantastic narrator!

Love the book and Mr. Prebble brings it alive. Amazing job he does giving voice to so many characters. FANTASTIC

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great Book

Jane Austin meets Harry Potter, in a good way. The beginning is slow but gets so good towards the middle and end. Highly recommend it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Kelt
  • Ashland, OR, United States
  • 05-18-15

One of the best stories ever written. Seriously.

I've had this book for years on CD, and loved it so much I bought the hardcover just to have a more "tangible" copy of such a masterpiece (that has a few charcoal drawings as well). I bought it again on audible just for the convenience of enjoying it again on my phone. Simon Prebble's reading is one of those that is so good, and each character voiced so well that I hope in the upcoming BBC America mini-series the actors sounds as good as Simon Prebble's impersonation of them. Especially The Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair, where his acting takes one of the most interesting characters in literature to an entirely new level.
The story itself I have listened to 3 or 4 times, and there is so much density to it I get something new out of it every time. The world Susanna Clarke has set up, through fantastic backstory and detours via lengthy footnotes (which work surprisingly well on audio), is a stunning alternate history so real feeling it almost seems it should be true. It's not quite George RR Martin or Tolkien in its complexity, but that level of quality.

For anyone that might enjoy a story of magicians in an England that didn't quite exist, I highly recommend this.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

One of my top 5 a.b's of all time...

This historical fiction/ fantasy delivered a compelling, quasi-plausible accounting of ancient magic of the British isles. The story covers more than ten years in the lives and societies of two English Magicians move between different levels of acquaintance and dependance upon each other. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has action, humor, heartache, triumph, with fun takes on alternate history of the first 17 or so years of the 19th C. . You'll like this one very much or your money back, not really...

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Just never got into it

This came highly recommended and I really wanted to love it, but I just never got into it. Maybe it was because I listened to it as I was falling asleep so I only listened in short segments, but I do that with a lot of books.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

The best audio performance EVER!

What made the experience of listening to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell the most enjoyable?

Simon Prebble and his amazing ability to channel 20+ characters.

What did you like best about this story?

I started listening and couldn't stop. I had absolutely had no idea where it was going and couldn't guess the ending.

Which scene was your favorite?

Love the opening chapters, the descriptions of the Man with the Thistledown Hair and the satisfying ending for many of the characters, especially Stephen Black and Lascelles. And the stupendous footnotes!!!!! After a few hours, I actually started to believe in the "golden age" of English magic and the Raven King.

Any additional comments?

You can pick just about any chapter at random in it and enjoy. If you love Jane Austen or Patrick Obrian, give it a try. After 100+ audiobooks, it's still my hands down favorite.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A lovely, rich, (ahem) enchanting tale

Most excellent. Warm, complex, and charming. Definitely worth the listen. Performance was most excellent as well.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jack
  • Nelson, New Zealand.
  • 03-10-15

wonderfully inventive story.

A wonderful inventive story that had me at times smiling and at other times quite angry. I enjoyed the footnotes which I believe some folk find distracting, but which I thought didn't distract from the narrative.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Levi
  • Davis CA USA
  • 03-09-15

Good! But had more potential

The fact that Clarke managed to write in the exact same stuffy British quality throughout the entire book- including the climax- was both a blessing and a curse. On one hand it provided consistency, but when the climax came and went I felt very indifferent to it. There was a lot of opportunity for humor that the author passed up, but she usually chose good, informative options that while not furthering the story, didn't detract from it and helped to flesh out the universe. One plot point- I still do not really understand what this universe's Magic is. It's stated often enough but both main characters are unreliable at best, and at the end I'm left suspending my disbelief of the magic system.

However it was very interesting, the characters are nothing like what's hinted in the publisher's blurb, and the typical ideal of antagonist/protagonist is set aside for a mixed cast of characters who strive for magic as an ideal rather than for good or evil.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Smart, clever, though at the start tedious

I don't want my title to dismay any readers, but I have had this book on my shelf for 7 years ago and could not manage to get through the first few chapters... HOWEVER, I decided to buy the audible version for driving and become completely enraptured in the story. Although the beginning maybe be a little much to get through, it is the start of a great journey which I am so very glad I traveled.