Customer Reviews for

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Average Rating 4
( 426 )
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(238)

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(42)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

19 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

It's Interesting, A Couple of These Reviews

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is not just a book about magic it's much more than that. As the story progresses we're compelled strangely by the slow but smoothly progressing story of this interesting novel in three parts. It is fueled namely by the tensions that bui...
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is not just a book about magic it's much more than that. As the story progresses we're compelled strangely by the slow but smoothly progressing story of this interesting novel in three parts. It is fueled namely by the tensions that build between Strange and Norrell, whose personalities are essentially polar opposites. In an only too human way Strange, we find, becomes so intent on eclipsing Norrell's magical talents that he even neglects his own wife. Rather than throw it in the reader's face, it views the history of the time: how women were treated (namely Strange's wife) comes into play here. Susanna Clark has handled her story with a finesse I don't see much in the literary world anymore, because she has this rare talent of hiding her themes underneath the story without entirely rushing the reader with them. It's the patience with which she builds her story that interested me so. This is what we need more of: a love for story telling, because when a work of fiction is approached in earnest with this type of enthusiasm the work transcends--like it should--mere escapism.

posted by Anonymous on August 22, 2006

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

A decidedly mixed bag...

I both enjoyed and was thoroughly frustrated by this book. Each chapter taken individually is an entertaining and well written piece, and so I can't say I was ever bored while reading it. The characters are quirky and interesting, the concepts at play are fun and inve...
I both enjoyed and was thoroughly frustrated by this book. Each chapter taken individually is an entertaining and well written piece, and so I can't say I was ever bored while reading it. The characters are quirky and interesting, the concepts at play are fun and inventive, and the narrative style contains a dry tongue-in-cheek humor that I loved. However, this book is over 800 pages long, which is fine, but long books need a sense of an overarching plot unfolding as you go, and sadly that is missing from this book. While I was generally entertained as I read, I was frustrated as I got to pages 300, 400, etc that the book just seemed to be rambling without going anywhere. When the book did begin to pull all the loose ends together, it happened abruptly and ended fairly quickly, relative to the hundreds of pages of loose set-up that preceded it. In the end, I'm glad I finished reading it, and the ending was satisfactory. But it took me about 5 months to read, mostly because the lack of plot made it easy to put down and didn't offer a strong incentive to pick it back up again. Memorable story and characters, but it drags. Recommended only to those with great patience and a love of mild British humor and social comedy.

posted by Anonymous on June 18, 2007

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  • Posted March 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    From beginning to end, "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell&quo

    From beginning to end, "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" was pretty much the perfect read. It was exceptional how every chapter's written separately and individually, and might as well stand on its own as a piece of art. Every chapter is indeed a new universe and a great new story, and the beauty of the novel is it brings all these characters and subplots together. Yes, it's true what some people say - this is a LONG book and can get quite tedious at times, but the truth is that's just the nature of it. The bright side is, some of us readers will be completely and utterly amazed at the language and craft of Mrs Clarke's. This is, no doubt, one of the most brilliant novels I've read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Not "Harry Potter for adults"

    Like most of the other reviewers, I had to trudge through the first 60 pages or so. Unlike most other reviewers the story really didn't pick up for me. If you have a fondness for English gentry and/or military history this may be your bag. Not a bad read, but.......

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great Wit

    Yes, I've read a magic book. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Nor­rellby Susanna Clarke is a fic­tional book about magi­cians set in 1800s England.

    Eng­lish magi­cians, once world renowned, are stag­nant in the 1800s and have lost their abil­ity to per­form magic. How­ever, the reclu­sive Mr. Nor­rell of Hurt­few Abbey in York­shire has been col­lect­ing old and for­got­ten Eng­lish magic books.

    Rais­ing a woman from the dead, Mr. Nor­rell soon finds him­self at the ser­vice of the gov­ern­ment fight­ing the French. Every­thing turns on its head when the hand­some and charm­ing Jonathan Strange, a rival magi­cian, appears. Strange makes a name for him­self dur­ing a cam­paign with Lord Welling­ton. How­ever it is soon obvi­ous that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell¿s idea of what exactly ¿magic¿ is or ought to be are very different.

    I usu­ally don¿t read books about magic, but when Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, rec­om­mended Jonathan Strange & Mr. Nor­rell by Susanna Clarke, which was on sale for the day, I grabbed it up immediately.

    The novel sur­prised me. It was excel­lent, funny and imag­i­na­tive yet not cross­ing into the land of unpro­nounce­able names, fan­tas­tic crea­tures and geog­ra­phy so con­vo­luted my sim­ple mind can­not process it.

    As in any inter­est­ing book, this one also has lay­ers which allow the reader to think about and explore. Jeal­ousy, friend­ship, envy, love, arro­gance and, of course, redemp­tion are all touched upon by this most inter­est­ing book.

    The way Ms. Clarke has recre­ated Eng­land was, to me, one of the high­lights of the book. In a style rem­i­nis­cent of Mr. Gaiman she describes, with wit and clar­ity, seedy par­lors, streets, build­ings and houses both of rich and poor. The char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of peo­ple within the story is bril­liant, often funny and able to cre­ate an image.

    ¿The walls of the par­lour were orna­mented with cheap engrav­ings ¿ por­traits of famous crim­i­nals of the last cen­tury who had all been hanged and por­traits of the King's dis­solute sons who had not been hanged yet.¿

    ¿[N]ot been hanged yet¿ ¿ don¿t you love that?

    The story is told by an anony­mous nar­ra­tor who is writ­ing a his­tory book about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Nor­rell, com­plete with foot­notes and anno­ta­tions. The foot­notes were some of my favorite parts of the book even though they add very lit­tle to the story, how­ever they bring the book to a whole new level and add sev­eral dimen­sions to it. Full of his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences, sto­ries and brief char­ac­ter­i­za­tions these foot­notes are a delight.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2012

    Hmmmm

    Well i will say the book started good then it lost its momentum

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Can't Believe What the Hype Was About

    I never give up on a book I've purchased. When I read the editorial comments, I was sure it was a book I would like. After 242 pages in, I just gave up. I couldn't find a plot and the charachaters were tedious to say the best. Don't waste your hard-earned money on this one!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 14, 2010

    Lack of plot

    After reading numerous reviews on B&N and Amazon, I had high hopes for this novel. I was looking for a fantasy novel that was well-written and engaging. Clarke's writing style is impeccable, however, skip this book if you expect actual plot. I read fifty pages waiting for something to happen. Nothing. At one hundred pages into the novel, the plot still hadn't begun. I don't generally give up on books, but after two hundred fifty pages, I gave up. There is nothing to keep the reader engaged in the story, because there really isn't one. Character development is pointless if the characters don't do anything.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A real world fantasy with a historical setting and some exciting twists.

    The book is split into three different parts each one gripping and stylized in the english of eighteen century England. With a hint of fantasy that is mysterious and shocking your just craving for more. The first part tells the story of Mr Norell and his effort to be the first and only magican reviving and using english magic. The second part of the novel deals with Jonathan Strange and Ms.Strange as the venture from a Britsh rural area to the city of London. Mr Norell is suddenly entralled by Mr.Strange performing magic that result in Jonathan Strange becoming the first apprentice of english magic in years. Next as a result for reviving english magic the British government asks the magicans for help against the war between the European Alliance and Napoleon Bonaparte. The third part depicts what happens after the magician help in the war with Napoleon and the deal they have made with an insane magical being.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    such hopes......but...

    I began reading this book with such hopes,but i couldnt even get past the first few chapters. It just didnt grasp my attention enough for me to finish. It had great detail, but it needs to move on and tell the story, not linger.

    1 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    A journey through a history not quite our own

    I am an avid reader and was not disappointed in the least in this book. The characters are vivid, the story is full of depth, and the style of writing is charming.<BR/><BR/>I was happy to give this as a gift to others.<BR/><BR/>While the book has its dark points, and this is even true of the end, it is cathartic in that most people receive a fate that they are worthy of.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    Jonathan Strange & Mr.Norrell is an outstanding book which combines English society of the early 1800s with magic. Susanna Clarke fills the book with entertaining footnotes which bring the book alive. Incredibly Jonathan Strange & Mr.Norrell is one of the best books ever written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2007

    Magical

    A big rambling book, so be prepared to devote time. Beautifully written with the sensibilities of the early 19th century. It blends fact with fiction in a way that leaves you unsure of what really happened in history, and was there such a thing as English Magic? Well, there is now.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2007

    Utterly Spectacular

    From the very first page, Clarke's novel is nothing short of masterly. There may be a couple of spots where the basic plot is forgotten, but this is made up for by her witty humour and insightful musings. In fact the so-called lapses give the book a sense of reality, as if in fact life did go on as normal during the more than decade of the story's span. And what a glorious story it is! My favorite aspect of the novel is the complicated relationships between the characters. That is one important element that I believe is missing in a way from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell probably has the most character development I've ever seen in a novel of its genre. Overall an astonishing read, and a book that I shall read again in the future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2007

    This is slowest most boring thing I have ever read

    Frist off who writes fictional footnotes? This was the worst thing I have ever read. I read a lot. Many different types of books. I have no problem reading a long books if it is warranted and something actually happens in the book but after reading the first 300 pages I wanted to beat myself for buying the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2007

    An outstanding whim!

    After reading through many enjoyable and thrilling classic, popular or highly reccommended fantasy authors I grew tired of wading through poor copies of worlds I'd explored in those books. I yearned for something new and fresh. On a whim I picked this book up because it looked different. I am supremely glad that I did because it ranks on the list of fantasy author 'greats'. It's a wonderful writing style filled with half-truths, subtle humor, and a visual feast for the mind of written imagery. I LOVED this book and am currently reading Clarke's new release of short stories with much enthusiasm. Go read, and fall in love with this book like I did!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2006

    Perfection!

    This book was amazing! At first I was hesitant to read the 800+ pages, but once I dove into it, I couldn't put it down. Originally, I thought the story was going to be dark and wicked, but most parts were funny, sarcastic and loaded with dry humor. The story was intriquing and original... and I wished that it was longer. For a first novel, this one is brilliant! I hope there is another one on the way!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2006

    Brilliant!

    I really, really loved this book! Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is stunningly brilliant, and so utterly unique. I highly recommend it! It's about two magicians in Regency England who are working to restore English magic. That's such a simple explanation and doesn't really begin to explain the book at all. It reads like a British classic along the lines of Austen or Dickens. I love the humor, and the story itself has me so totally drawn in. It's one of those books that I found hard to put down, even though I was reluctant to finish it. Honestly, you don't have to love or even like fantasy to love this book! The writing, as I said, is absolutely brilliant! Now, I have heard that the middle can be a bit dull, but that was not my experience. I didn't find as much as a dull or superfluous word! Even the footnotes added a wealth of interest and charm to the story. I was simply blown away by the author's talent, and surprised that this is her first book. I really hope that she writes more! If her voice is this mature in her first offering, what potential she has!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2005

    A good read.

    When I bought this book, I was extremely excited that I finally was going to break through the 200 page novel that I had been reading prior to this. Clarke paints a dreary, drab, and egocentric portrait of Britain society in the early 1800's, which is what I believe she was going for. She is quite verbally crafty, and I was very amused and thought it was worth the time and money. However, there are some slight down points...often I missed a character, while Strange was off doing his thing, I wondered what Norell was doing, and vice versa. I also had trouble remembering who was who concerning the secondary characters. Even at the end, when they had their separate fates, I had to go back to the beginning and find out 'just who was this guy again?' To her credit, I was somewhat surprised at the ending, and there the fate of Lascalles (sp?) creeped me out quite a bit. In many ways I wish the story had stayed put in Britain, instead of running off to Spain and Italy for stretches, and toward the end, I found it a bit TOO magical...but overall it is still excellent and would recommend it to anybody. I'm a newer reader, I've read some Palahniuk, Gregory Maquire, William S. Burroughs, and random others. I'd love some suggestions for unique fiction...I really have no interest in the mainstream 'a lawyer in Chicago gets the case of his life when he discovers his boss may be...' blah stuff that seems to sell somehow. So please please please....recommendations I would love...just drop an email.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2005

    A Purely Amazing Book

    I am a big fantasy fan, so because I heard so many great things about this book, I had to read it. The story was so amazing and mysterious that I could hardly put it down! A lot of people have said that Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is similar to Harry Potter but, I think the only similarity between the books is that they are about magic. The story is a very original fantasy story, in an age where original fantasy is very rare. The characters were also very powerful, and it was fascinating how they were all interwoven into the mystery. It was a little long, but I didn't care because the story was so great! I think this book is not only for hardcare fantasy fans, but it is also for people who appreciate great writing and a great story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2005

    Sensational!

    If you are a historical fiction fan, you must read this book. I was expecting a sort of intellectual version of Harry Potter, but it turned out to be much more imaginative and clever than that (Not to say I am not a Harry Potter fan). The witty satire and Victorian dialect adds to the already captivating plot, not to mention the smartly placed references about artworks, Napoleonic battles, etc. that only a true historian would love. I was also surprised that the book was light-hearted and amusing in some places but could turn dark and disturbing in others. This book is so refreshingly whimsical and thought-provoking that when I finished the last page, I wanted to begin the book all over again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2005

    An Unexpected Treat for a History Lover

    I had no expectations going into this book, as I had read none of the reviews. I found it astonishing. The writing, the detailed footnotes, all the effort (made to look effortless) the author has put into this work to give it the authentic 'taste' of a book written by a scholarly 19th century gentleman, is wonderful. As one who has loved and studied this period of history for 20 years, I found the small accuracies one of the things I loved most about it (and her descriptions of Lord Byron--great!). Add to this meticulousness great writing skill and wit, and you have a truly unique and memorable book. This is NOT one for the Harry Potter crowd, or even necessarily the Jordan-Goodkind crowd. It is more likely to be appreciated by lovers of Jane Austen (of which I am one), perhaps Bernard Cornwell/Patrick O'Brian readers--or Jasper Fforde, another uniquely inventive modern writer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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