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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

by Susanna Clarke

Whew! Finished at last. Seems like I spent months on this book but it was really only 3 weeks. I read several other books at the same time because I would get a bit tired of JS&MN and needed other outlets.

I enjoyed the basic story involving the two magicians, the unnamed slave, the gentleman with the silvery hair and the two enchanted women. Much of the groundwork held my interest, but there was just too much. I think the book would have been totally wonderful if some of it had been left out.

I came to a vivid realization that England has a wonderful history steeped in magic. We don't have that in the young country of America. One review I read on JS&MN talked about the mythological references. I probably missed most of that because I don't have a good background in myths. Because of this book, I have an increased interest and that's a good thing.

I appreciated the history and enjoyed this reference to the London servants making fun of some imported servants brought in from Northern England. "...the used words like goosegogs, narrow-grass, betty-cat and battle-twigs, when they should have said gooseberries, asparagus, she-cat and earwigs."

At one point Strange gave Norrell a list of books he wanted to borrow from Norrell's library. "It was not a list to delight Mr Norrell's soul. It was full of first thoughts crossed-out, second thoughts crossed-out and third thoughts put in at angles and made to wriggle around other words that were in the way."

And this commentary on arguments between a married couple.
In the end is it not futile to try and follow the course of a quarrel between husband and wife? Such a conversation is sure to meander more than any other. It draws in tributary arguments and grievances from years before - all quite incomprehensible to any but the two people they concern most nearly. Neither party is ever proved right or wrong in such a case, or, if they are, what does it signify?"

17 comments:

Susan said...

I still have to read the book - it's on many of my challenges for this year - so I read your comments with interest. I'll let you know how I find it. Meanwhile, I loved your photo of when you finished! Congratulations are in order whenever any of us finish a chunkster, I think!

Petunia said...

Congratulations! You did better than I did. I only made it about halfway before I just had to set it aside. I need to finish it for a challenge but not this month I think.

3M said...

I enjoyed this one but felt the same sense of relief when it was finished. There's just something about reading a really long book that is so satisfying.

I'm anxious to see the film version of this.

Zeek said...

I just added this one to my TBR pile. As I just finished a 750 pager, I may wait a bit to start it!

DesLily said...

I only managed about 250 pages...it's been back in the tbr pile ever since! Definately would be a much better story if it were shorter!

Literary Feline said...

I really enjoyed reading this book (not nearly as much as my husband who counts it among his favorites though), especially how "real" it felt in the telling. I am eager to read her short story collection which is connected to her novel.

Stephanie said...

It always feels good finishing a monster of a book, doesn't it?? I still have to read this one. I really want to....but I just haven't had the time!!

Stephanie said...

I had this on my RIP challenge list last year, but never cracked the spine. I now have it on my 2008 TBR list and will try again this fall!

Paula said...

Love that picture below! How funny ~ I have this book, sitting here looking at me. Haven't yet had the courage to start the monster. Sometime soon. I think I'm going to enjoy the mythical side of it also.

tanabata said...

Congratulations on finishing. It's certainly a chunkster. It was a bit long but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm looking forward to reading her short stories sometime.

heather (errantdreams) said...

"It was not a list to delight Mr Norrell's soul. It was full of first thoughts crossed-out, second thoughts crossed-out and third thoughts put in at angles and made to wriggle around other words that were in the way."

What a great quote! Such unique phrasing. :)

Bookfool said...

I love the quotes! Glad you enjoyed the book. I made the mistake of passing up a remaindered copy at a decent price, so this one's still on my wish list. Someday!!

Framed said...

Well, if it ever shows up on bookmooch, maybe I'll read it; but I'm pretty intimidated.

gautami tripathy said...

I am yet to tackle it. The fright is due to the size!

And yet another tag from, but this one is started by me:
non-fiction all the way--a meme

Melanie said...

I love this book. Glad you made your way through it! It took me a full week of steady reading to finish it; but I really, really enjoyed it.

Dewey said...

It felt like it took me months to read, too! Only it really was just about three weeks, like you. Clarke definitely has a love of language!

Trish said...

I have this book on my shelf (taking up lots of space), but I'm too scared to read it. :) I get bored easily and the length is turning me off. Had no idea what it is about, though, so thanks for the summary! I may have to move this one up the ranks.