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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004) Susanna Clarke

I admit it. When I saw this on sale on the kindle I grabbed it even though we already have the hardback book. Because this is a HUGE book, and it’s so much nicer to read a kindle than an 800 page hardback book.

And since I had it on the kindle, that meant it was time to re-read the story, right?

I’d forgotten that the first portion of the book is mostly Mr Norrell. Who I don’t particularly like (I don’t think one is supposed to, actually.) He’s not evil. He’s not mean. He’s just weak and selfish. And that’s one of the (many) strong points of this book. Norrell isn’t a villain, he just isn’t a good person. And Strange isn’t a hero, he just tends to believe things I find a little more reasonable.

I think this sentence kinda sums it up.

It was not that the Ministers were dull-witted — upon the contrary there were some brilliant men among them. Nor were they, upon the whole, bad men; several led quite blameless domestic lives and were remarkably found of children, music, dogs, landscape painting.

There is no good or evil, there are just men.

This is a very long book, but the humor is perfectly dry.

(T)he other ministers considered that to employ a magician was one thing, novelists were quite another and they would not stoop to it.

Mr Norrell was very well pleased. Lord Liverpool was exactly the sort of guest he liked — one who admired books but shewed no inclination to take them down from the shelves and read them.

There was an elderly bunch of celery that had lived too long and too promiscuously in close companionship with the charcoal for its own good.

(I don’t know what it is, but that sentence cracks me up.)

(T)hough the room was silent, the silence of half a hundred cats is a pecuilar thing, like fifty individual silences all piled one on top of another.

I’m not sure about cats in this instance, but there are silences, and then there are silences.

She spoke Basque, which is a language which rarely makes any impression upon the brains of any other races, so that a man may hear it as often and as long as he likes, but never afterwards be able to recall a single syllable of it.

I think that’s somewhat less Basque and more general to any language one had to study in school.
Rating: 9/10

Categories: 9/10, Alternate History, British, Fantasy     Comments (0)    



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