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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Paperback – 1 September 2005
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Shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian First Book Award
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize
- ASIN : 0747579881
- Publisher : Bloomsbury Pb; 1st edition (1 September 2005)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 1024 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780747579885
- ISBN-13 : 978-0747579885
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 6 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 9,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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The book is a heavy, lengthy tome, the writing is quite dense and full of footnote asides, the vocabulary at times archaic and for those who like neat endings this one will probably leave some readers deeply unsatisfied.
That said, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Drama, tragedy, comedy and thoroughly English. This is a 21st century novel that seamlessly slots in to 19th century canon.
Read a bit of it and if you like it keep going, or if you don't then stop, the book doesn't really change so you reading a few pages will quickly determine whether you should invest time in the remaining ~800.
Not as pacey as Harry Potter, but for those who like something magical this is going to appeal.
Top reviews from other countries
If you have the patience, or are a fan of 18th and 19th century fiction, then buy it! Buy it now! It's fabulous. There's a rich fictional history that is slowly exposed through footnotes, alongside a story of two deeply flawed men, each blundering along a magical path they believe they understand, but which is utterly obscured from their view. There are no obvious heroes or villains here. No clearcut moral values. Mistakes are made and consequences felt.
It's rare I'll read a book that has me exclaiming aloud at the actions of a character, knowing that it will cause mayhem and yet having only the dimmest notion what the consequences will be. It's even rarer to read something where I truly don't know where it's going. There's no wellworn literary path here, no tired story tropes.
Without saying too much and spoiling it I don't know what else to say. Just buy it. Do it now.
The book goes on and on, at some point I wondered if each new layer of the cake was being piled on to avoid considering what the characters introduced in the previous layer were actually about. I kept reading because I was interested enough to see how it would work out, but it felt like the author was adding ever more complexities as a way of avoiding the messy human stuff.
And there was just too much hopping around, Mr Strange goes from being a sceptical layabout to a highly competent magician without apparently taking a breath, the author never drops her amused detachment. Her characterisation of the Duke of Wellington and other figures of the Peninsular War was deft and amusing but Bernard Cornwell could make those figures come to life, as bit part players, with equal economy but far greater emotional value.
It's a shame. I really wanted to like it.