Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel by Susanna Clarke

About the book

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.

Reviewed by Waterside Bookworms reading group:

We enjoyed the book, however, it was far too long, a little self indulgent of the author. Some members decided against reading it, others gave up but two finished it and enjoyed it.

Star rating: **

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5 thoughts on “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel by Susanna Clarke”

  1. Review by Romsey Library Reading Group:
    The fact and fiction in this book just did not work together. Pretentious and over researched, tedious – nobody finished.
    Star rating: *


  2. Review by Blackwater Valley U3A Reading Group:
    We felt that this was a very well researched book and that the ‘magic’ was very interesting. However the length of the book and the way it was written meant that group members struggled to get through it. We are, however, going to give it another try next year.
    Star rating: **/***


  3. Review by Cliffhangers reading group:
    The size of the book was very daunting for some of our readers but it was worth persevering. Written in the style of Jane Austen/Charles Dickens it was a well structured fantasy story set in the 19th Century. It could be described as a Harry Potter style novel for adults. An intriguing page turner.
    Star rating: ***


  4. Review by October Books reading group:
    One member rated this extremely highly, but in general the great length (and not much action in some places) put off readers. All agreed the book was well written.
    Star rating: **


  5. Review by Southsea Literature Group:
    Some misgivings at size (and weight) of book. Decided to read Vol. 1 and continue only if readers favourable enough. Some puzzlement over author’s purpose and ‘message’. A transactional style disappoints. Feeling that there are nuggets of gold buried in the text, but too disappointed to be totally successful. Humour does not disappoint. Most passages highlighted to the anecdotal footnotes were received with much amusement. Consensus that publisher had ‘pushed’ the novel quite hard.
    Star rating: ***


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