Customer Reviews for

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

22 out of 26 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2007

    I'll keep trying

    If people don't stop comparing this to the Harry Potter series I am going to scream. It is NOTHING like them. Nor is it the 'adult Harry Potter' unless he has become exceedingly dull and self-centered. I stopped at about page 350, but as I have only ever left 2 books unread out of thousands happily completed 'Great Expectations and some sci-fi book that was unbelievably depressing', I will try to get back into it. I am not saying there are not interesting aspects and very detailed descriptions of some events, but I mainly kept reading because I thought that at some point it would gel. Please, oh please make it worth all the glowing reviews. I was so excited for a long, interesting, well-written book and am so sad that it has thus far only been one of those. I was reading it while standing in line at a store and the woman behind me said 'Um, sorry to interrupt, but what do you think of that book? I'm reading it and you are further into it than I am so I am wondering if it gets more interesting further in?' I was unhappy to tell her that at p. 325 nothing had grabbed me yet except a supreme annoyance with reviewers. Then I thought that maybe they were all playing a joke--they waded through it and now they want everyone else to have to as well. It's a great conspiracy perhaps, but so far, not a great story.

    6 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    Overdone and anti-climactic

    Author is in desperate need of an editor. The book was unnecessarily long.

    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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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2004

    Not Recommended

    Ponderous and dull....not recommended. Excessive detail provided to every boring character, room, type of weather, etc. 200 pages should have been trimmed by the editors, then it may have proven acceptable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Would have been much more enjoyable had it been condensed.

    It's an ok book, but incredibly lengthy. I have no problem with long books, as long as it keeps your focus. But at this point, I'm reading mainly just to finish. I'm almost 600 pages in, and while some chapters were very good, overall, there just isn't a steady plot. The story often jumps a year or two in advance from chapter to chapter. There have even been some very interesting developments where I couldn't wait to start the next chapter to see what happens, only to find another timeline jump, and that plot turn never mentioned again.

    There is also so much rambling about items that really have no purpose. Too much description on things that could have been cut down, making this a much more enjoyable shorter book.

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  • Posted March 2, 2011

    If you like slow reads this book is for you

    While the alternat setting of this book in late 18th century england with the use of Magic was an intriguing concept, and the over arching duplicity of Fairy vs the real world was at points entertaining, this book could have been about 200 pages shorter. The subject matter was well planned and well thought out, but it was over drawn at points. If this book were re-written with brevity in mind it would be a fabulous story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2008

    What was the point

    This book is a rambling, pointless story with NO plot. It goes no where! I started it with such high hopes and as I read found myself forcing myself to read it just to get through it. It needs a good editor to hack out the stuff that is nonsense and pointless. Maybe her 2nd book will be less tedious

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2007

    What was the point???

    I had great hopes for this book, as it dealt with magic and the supernatural, but as I read this I kept hoping there was a point to everything. The book just kept on and on. I have been more engrossed with other books of similar length, with the wish that they would not end. Not with this book, I couldn't wait for the book to end, but it just never did. Even when I got to the end, I kept asking, what was the point?, Why did it take sooooo long to get to the end???? I would not recommend this book to anyone. I am a great sci-fi magic fan, but there are many more interesting books out there than this. Huge disappointment!!!! Her short stories, 'The Ladies of Grace Adieu' is better. Not sooooo long winded.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2007

    Sloooooooooow

    I had to put it down after 300 pages.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2006

    I can't imagine the boredom level in 1800 England..

    After reading the reviews of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I was looking forward to a great long read with interesting characters and adventurous story lines. However, after trying 3 times to start this book with an open mind, I finally gave up on my last attempt at page 250. I am an avid reader who usually can find a character or plot to keep me interested, but not this time. At times I had to force myself to concentrate to enter the life of Mr. Norrell in 1806. There was not a single character that I found amusing or felt any connection with. In addition, the story itself never seemed to take hold as it dragged on until J. Strange finally joined us. What a shame that Jonathan Strange turned out to be as boring and annoying as Mr. Norrell. The book should have been about Mr. Segundus as I found him to be somewhat endearing - but only to a point. I kept wondering if the author was so busy trying to write in the style of the times that she ended up with a well-written 1820 novel with characters as close minded and boring as it seems the 'English' were during this era. I hope her next book is a true example of her writing ability that has been praised so highly among readers and critics alike.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2006

    Perhaps for the classics clique?

    Dry and self-absorbed, this book may appeal to students of the period. However the fantasy aspect is peripheral and the plot plods along without energy, tension, engaging characters, or really any stand-out reason to continue reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2006

    I don't get it?

    I was so excited to read this book--the reviews were so enthusiastic. I got through the first 250 pages before giving up. I'm an avid reader, and I gave this book a shot. It totally failed to intrigue me--I found it tedious and had to force myself to keep going. Eventually, I gave up. The material itself was not uninteresting, but it took pages and pages to get to the point. I found my mind wandering when paragraphs would go by without any action occuring. I'm not sure why, but this book really disappointed me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2005

    A little slow, not what I expected

    Overall, this is a well-written book. However, the story gets very slow several times and I kept expecting something more to happen. It is very descriptive about how magic works, but there a not that many displays of magic. I would have loved to have more on Jonathan Strange¿s exploits with the military and a little bit more details on the Fairy world. If you have the time to read this long tale, I would recommend renting or borrowing it but don¿t waste your money buying it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2005

    Tis boring

    This was the first book i have not been able to finish no matter how hard i have tried. I usually read the reviews other people have written and compare their recommended books. I have read so many of those recommended books that i believed this one would also be amazing. I was dissappointed. It is way to long and overly written. There are some good moments but i gave up trying to finish this book after reading about 400 pages. I have been tring to read this book for a year and i still have gotten past 400 pages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2005

    Tedious

    The most positive thing that I can say about this novel is that I was able to read over three hundred pages before giving up less than halfway through, finally abandoning it. The author displays a wonderful knowledge of early 19th. century English vernacular and history. A great amount of research obviously went into it's writing. Early casual use of the name Aubrey, followed by an itallicized SURPRIZE, give a subtle clue that some of the research owes itself to the novels of Patrick O' Brian. The author successfully strives to present her story in the writing style of the period, even to the point of using author intrusion in the form of narrative assides and frequent footnotes. However, if the point of a novel is to entertain the reader, this book sadly misses the mark. We are never able to achieve the suspension of disbelief that is so essential to the writing of fantasy fiction. The addage in fiction writing of 'Show, don't tell' is mainly ignored by this author. We are rarely transported to the scene of action, rather, we are 'told' what happened. We recieve a series of lists of magical events but are rarely shown them. The characters are often bored and uncomfortable with themselves, and we soon become bored and uncomfortable with them also. We never feel Mr Norrell's excitement, let alone his enthusiasm, for his magic. While many of the secondary characters are well drawn and sympathetic, the two main characters leave us wondering who they are, and why we should be interested in them. 'Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell' apparently owes more to the author's expertise in editing and her connections in publishing, than to her ability to tell a story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2005

    Dull and Disappointing

    I bought this book expecting it to be another great read like Harry Potter since one of the reviews compared the two. I was utterly disappointed. I read on and true that towards the very end it caught my interest a bit but it did not suffice for the long and over-detailedness of the book. Ending was also disappointing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2004

    Promised to be interesting, but in the end disappointing

    I keep hearing this book be compared to Harry Potter, and nothing could be farther from the truth. Harry Potter is much better. This book is long, pointless, and boring. The author seems to go out of her way to tell events in a way that reads like a monotone, and the characters are uninteresting and not at all sympathetic. Above all, however, i am most irritated by the purposeful spelling errors. Maybe there is a point behind them but i have not yet discovered it and so it is merely irritating.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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