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The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories

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Overview

Following the enormous success of 2004 bestseller and critics' favorite Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke delivers a delicious collection of ten stories set in the same fairy-crossed world of 19th-century England. With Clarke's characteristic historical detail and diction, these dark, enchanting tales unfold in a slightly distorted version of our own world, where people are bedeviled by mischievous interventions from the fairies.

With appearances from beloved ...

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The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories

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Overview

Following the enormous success of 2004 bestseller and critics' favorite Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke delivers a delicious collection of ten stories set in the same fairy-crossed world of 19th-century England. With Clarke's characteristic historical detail and diction, these dark, enchanting tales unfold in a slightly distorted version of our own world, where people are bedeviled by mischievous interventions from the fairies.

With appearances from beloved characters from her novel, including Jonathan Strange and Childermass, and an entirely new spin on certain historical figures, including Mary, Queen of Scots, this is a must-have for fans of Susanna Clarke's and an enticing introduction to her work for new readers. Some of these stories have never before been published; others have appeared in the New York Times or in highly regarded anthologies. In this collection, they come together to expand the reach of Clarke's land of enchantment--and anticipate her next novel.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In this set of short stories, the author of the dazzling fantasy Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell returns readers to that novel's unique milieu, a vision of 19th-century Britain that combines urbane comedy with the uncanny atmosphere of classic fairy stories. Proper young women who might have stepped from the pages of Mansfield Park practice very un-Austenian magic, a fairy mobilizes a town to help him pursue an object of lust, and a king matches wits with a beggar. At once achingly familiar and completely fresh, Susanna Clarke's stories arrive like postcards from an enchanted kingdom.
Publishers Weekly

Fans of Clarke's bestselling Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrellshould be pleased with this book, as the stories collected here are very much cut from the same cloth. The stories (seven previously published and one original tale, "John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner") deal with fairies and the history of English magic, and are told in the same Victorian style that made JS&MNso distinct. Prebble (who also narrated JS&MN) returns and once again triumphantly brings Clarke's richly imagined world to life. Sharing narrative duties this time around is Porter, who is equally skilled at playing prim and high-born ladies as she is using more folksy tones in "On Lickerish Hill." The footnotes that bogged down the audio edition of JS&MNare mostly absent, and the narrators' very different styles work well to give each story its own distinct feel. A lyrical and thoroughly enjoyable collection from a burgeoning master of fantasy literature. Simultaneous release with the Bloomsbury hardcover (Reviews, July 31). (Nov.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Materials from British folklore are reworked with beguiling narrative energy and mischievous wit in this first collection from the English author of the wonderful adult fantasy Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2004). Two of that book's major characters make vivid reappearances here. In "John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner," the legendary magician the Raven King (aka Uskglass) tramples on a humble woodsman's property while hunting, and is himself humbled when his victim enlists various saints to redress his grievance. In the amusing title story, gentleman sorcerer Jonathan Strange discovers during a country visit that "the magic of wild creatures [notably owls] and the magic of women" are indeed a match for his own. Elsewhere, Mary Queen of Scots, while imprisoned by her rival, England's Elizabeth I, plots revenge through the medium of pictorial embroidery: Still, Elizabeth survives, and Mary loses her head (in "Antickes and Frets"). That tactic achieves better results when a British military hero strays into a remote domicile ruled by similar domestic magic (in "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse"). Odd things will happen, evidently, when mortals join forces or contend with fairy folk. "Tom Brightwind and How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby" describes how Tom, a vainglorious and dictatorial otherworldly paterfamilias, is gently persuaded by his best human friend to improve the fortunes of the inhabitants of Thoresby, a village hitherto cut off from the world beyond it. Less benign supernatural intervention operates in tales relating an unhappy young wife's risky escape from her boring old husband ("On Lickerish Hill"); a forsaken fiancee's perilous dealings withthe fairy temptress ("Mrs. Mabb") who has stolen her beloved; and, in "Mr. Simonelli or The Fairy Widower," a country cleric's refusal to be intimidated by a "powerful fairy" landowner's disagreeable habit of seducing and exploiting innocent young women. Irresistible storytelling, from a splendidly gifted enchantress.
From the Publisher
Praise for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell:

"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

"There's no better way to experience the material than to hear it performed by such a consummate actor."—Publishers Weekly on Simon Prebble's narration

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596913837
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 10/2/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Susanna Clarke

Susanna Clarke is the author of the New York Times bestseller and multiple award winner Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. She lives in Cambridge, England.

Biography

Susanna Clarke admits that her first novel took her more than 10 years to write -- "a crazy amount of time to spend on anything -- except building a cathedral, growing a garden or educating a child," she has said.

To be fair, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell was obviously not a small undertaking, both literally and figuratively. For one thing, the book clocks in at 800 pages. For another, Clarke spent a good bit of time researching the history for her early nineteenth-century London tale about two magicians.

As a fantasy novel filled with historical detail and copious "footnotes" that further embellish her richly imagined world, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell had more riding on it than the average first novel. Clarke is being positioned as a writer who, like Neil Gaiman before her, brings a literary heft (not just in pages) and potential crossover appeal to a previously neglected genre.

The story is set centuries after the Raven King -- a human brought up by fairies who ruled the country with magic -- has passed into legend. Mr Norrell studies ancient lore and eventually gains fame as the only real sorcerer in the early 1800s England. When he encounters a young, dashing magician peer named Jonathan Strange and takes him on as a pupil, their styles clash and a rivalry develops.

"[The marketing push for Clarke's novel] is not so unusual for a big first novel," a New York Times writer observed. "But it is curious for a big first novel about dueling magicians that is uncompromisingly literary without being shy about taking the genre seriously."

Hmm... a thick book about magicians by an English author with "crossover hit" written all over it? The Harry Potter comparisons have already begun. Clarke's reaction? "I don't think there could ever be an adult Harry Potter," she says in a publisher's interview. "I think it's harder for adults to be enchanted -- it's hard for them to switch off their critical faculties and just be swept along by the story."

Clarke makes this enchantment possible by rooting her story in a very firm historical foundation, seamlessly drawing in the politics and culture of nineteenth-century London. She can be by turns witty and spellbinding, capable of creating breathtaking momentum in a scene. Clarke has a particular gift for making intangible, vague atmospheres quite sensate and vivid. The result is feeling as if you've wandered into a dark, mysterious castle that you can't bring yourself to leave.

One way Clarke eases suspension of the reader's disbelief is by adding not only historical detail but "magical" detail to make it seem more earth-bound. Rather than make magic something purely supernatural, she injects it with some amusing, workmanlike mundanity. When Strange is told his destiny to become a magician, he reacts, "I hope to be married soon and a life spent in dark woods surrounded by thieves and murderers would be inconvenient to say the least."

Clarke has said that her next book will be set in the same world has her first one -- and this time she hasn't got 10 years to spend on it. Fans shouldn't have to wait long to revisit Strange and Norrell's alluring world, and meet new characters.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Clarke:

"I met my partner, Colin Greenland, through my writing. He was co-tutor on a week's writing course that I went on in 1993. Colin and the other tutor asked all the students to write a short story before the course. I didn't want to write a short story -- I wanted to discuss my novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. So I wrote a short story about them. So that was the first thing Colin knew about me -- that short story. Then I went on the course and met him, and now we've been together 10+ years.

"People who've only seen black and white photos of me, think my hair might be blond. It's not -- it's very grey. I'm not sure what people have against grey. It's the colour of stones and moonlight. Rather cool, I think."

"I've seen every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Huge fan."

"I like hiking through Northern hills and valleys. I like white wine, British beer from microbreweries, other people's gardens (because I don't attend to my own), other people's dogs and cats and pigs (because I have none of my own), and other people's houses (always more interesting than my own). My favourite nail polish for toes is called India by Chanel (a pretty, slightly sparkly pink), my favourite character in Law and Order is Jack McCoy, and my favourite pizza is pepperoni and jalapeno chilis."

"I don't like broccoli or Bob Dylan or D. H. Lawrence or TV programmes about celebrities."

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    1. Hometown:
      Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 16, 1959
    2. Place of Birth:
      Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, 1981
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

The Ladies of Grace Adieu

On Lickerish Hill

Mrs. Mabb

The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse

Mr. Simonellie or The Fairy Widower

Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby

Antickes and Frets

John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 40 )
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(16)

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(17)

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(3)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing Fantasy Of British Folklore

    A must read, perfect for a rainy day with a nice cup of tea. I would highly recommend this book for those who want to escape in a magical tale.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 2, 2012

    Fantastic companion to Jonathan Strange

    Each story in this book is brimming with as much imagination and historical knowledge as Clarke's debut novel. One of the anthology's greatest qualities is its focus on women's magic, which was alluded to but diminished in the male-centric Jonathan Strange. The other stories I liked best were those focusing on Clarke's unique take on fairies and fairy magic. If you enjoyed Jonathan Strange, this book is a wonderful expansion on the world Clarke built. There was not a single story in the book that I did not enjoy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Short stories by author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

    Although I didn't find these stories as all-absorbing as Clarke's novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, each story was interesting and unique within itself. I particularly liked the title story, a mercurial tale of three women practicing witchcraft; the story about the fairy widower; and the short, short story about Mary Queen of Scots. The pleasure of the stories is in Clarke's writing style and her lack of condescension for the material. The stuff of old folk tales (such as Tom-Tit-Tot) is revived in a fresh and unique way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    Graceful Lady

    Ladies of Grace Adieu is a set of short stories set in the universe of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Her vision of an England alive with a magical rebirth is both familar and wonderfully realized. I will purchase and read anything she writes in the future. Her voice and style are truly orginal and fresh. A recasting of Victorian tropes and themes for the 21st century. She may became our Andrew Lang or George MacDonald.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2013

    Good book; terrible ebook

    This is a wonderful collection of stories, especially if you love Clarke's _Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell_. Whoever created the ebook version, however, has done in incredibly poor job. There are typos that suggest that a scanned copy was poorly proofread; Clarke's scene breaks have been removed; and somehow the illustrations were distorted when they were scanned. If you're buying the ebook, wait until the publisher has provided a better one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2013

    Good, but...

    Not as epic as "Jonathan Strange".

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