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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Audiobook

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

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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

What the Critics Say

  • 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 Rating

4.1 (6564 )
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Performance
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  •  
    L. Brad Soler Davis CA USA 03-09-15
    L. Brad Soler Davis CA USA 03-09-15 Member Since 2010

    Brad

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashlynn Callery 03-04-15 Member Since 2015
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Markus 02-27-15
    Markus 02-27-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Oh Stephen!"

    Absolutely beautiful story. I've always been a fan of fantasy, but very rarely have I seen characters come to life like they do in this audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john 02-06-15
    john 02-06-15 Member Since 2015
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    "should be a movie"

    this was very visual for me. the people with hollowed out heads with candles in them...I enjoyed this so much. thankyou Susan!!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ethan Hurd LA CA 02-05-15
    Ethan Hurd LA CA 02-05-15

    ejhdigdug

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    "Good story, a bit long"
    What did you like best about Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell? What did you like least?

    The characters are great, nice story.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    When I started the book I loved the world and never wanted it to end, about half way through I thought it never would. The story needs an editor, you could cut at least 1/3 of the book out and never miss it.


    What about Simon Prebble’s performance did you like?

    Easy to listen to


    Any additional comments?

    Overall good story, I'm glad I listened to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Huntington Beach, CA, United States 02-03-15
    Jennifer Huntington Beach, CA, United States 02-03-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I am on my third listen"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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!


    What other book might you compare Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell to and why?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Prebble’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    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.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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!


    Any additional comments?

    I can't recommend this book enough. It's in my top ten, and I'm a pretty voracious reader/listener.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Gardner Bowers Whittier, CA USA 01-15-15
    Susan Gardner Bowers Whittier, CA USA 01-15-15

    Susu

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow"

    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

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LGLH 01-09-15
    LGLH 01-09-15
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    "A fully realized historical fantasy"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 09-16-14
    John 09-16-14 Member Since 2006
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    "Masterpiece"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brendan Dubuque, IA, United States 07-29-14
    Brendan Dubuque, IA, United States 07-29-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Starts slow but gets better"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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