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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Cover of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Susanna Clarke's brilliant novel is an utterly compelling, epic tale of nineteenth-century England and the way two very different magicians, who, as teacher and pupil and then as rivals, emerge to change its history. In the year 1806, in the throes of the Napoleonic Wars, most people believe magic to be dead in England—until the reclusive Mr. Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey reveals his powers and becomes a celebrity overnight. Soon, another magician emerges; the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and the two join forces in the war against France. But as Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, he risks sacrificing not only his friendship with Norrell, but everything else that he holds dear. An international bestseller published in 31 countries, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a tour de force that has captured the imagination of readers worldwide.

Susanna Clarke's brilliant novel is an utterly compelling, epic tale of nineteenth-century England and the way two very different magicians, who, as teacher and pupil and then as rivals, emerge to change its history. In the year 1806, in the throes of the Napoleonic Wars, most people believe magic to be dead in England—until the reclusive Mr. Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey reveals his powers and becomes a celebrity overnight. Soon, another magician emerges; the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and the two join forces in the war against France. But as Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, he risks sacrificing not only his friendship with Norrell, but everything else that he holds dear. An international bestseller published in 31 countries, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a tour de force that has captured the imagination of readers worldwide.

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About the Author-
  • Susanna Clarke was born in Nottingham, England, in 1959, the eldest daughter of a Methodist minister. She was educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and has worked in various areas of nonfiction publishing. She has published a number of short stories and novellas in American anthologies, as well as her own most recent collection of short stories related to the world of Jonathan Strange titled The Ladies of Grace Adieu, and Other Stories.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 12, 2004
    A starred or boxed review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.

    JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL
    Susanna Clarke
    . Bloomsbury
    , $27.95 (800p) ISBN 1-58234-416-7

    The drawing room social comedies of early 19th-century Britain are infused with the powerful forces of English folklore and fantasy in this extraordinary novel of two magicians who attempt to restore English magic in the age of Napoleon. In Clarke's world, gentlemen scholars pore over the magical history of England, which is dominated by the Raven King, a human who mastered magic from the lands of faerie. The study is purely theoretical until Mr. Norrell, a reclusive, mistrustful bookworm, reveals that he is capable of producing magic and becomes the toast of London society, while an impetuous young aristocrat named Jonathan Strange tumbles into the practice, too, and finds himself quickly mastering it. Though irritated by the reticent Norrell, Strange becomes the magician's first pupil, and the British government is soon using their skills. Mr. Strange serves under Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars (in a series of wonderful historical scenes), but afterward the younger magician finds himself unable to accept Norrell's restrictive views of magic's proper place and sets out to create a new age of magic by himself. Clarke manages to portray magic as both a believably complex and tedious labor, and an eerie world of signs and wonders where every object may have secret meaning. London politics and talking stones are portrayed with equal realism and seem indisputably part of the same England, as signs indicate that the Raven King may return. The chock-full, old-fashioned narrative (supplemented with deft footnotes to fill in the ignorant reader on incidents in magical history) may seem a bit stiff and mannered at first, but immersion in the mesmerizing story reveals its intimacy, humor and insight, and will enchant readers of fantasy and literary fiction alike. Agent, Jonny Geller.
    (Oct.)

    Forecast:
    A massive push by Bloomsbury has made this one of the most anticipated novels of the season. It's convenient to pigeonhole it as Harry Potter for grownups—and grown-up readers of J.K. Rowling will enjoy it—but its deep grounding in history gives it gravi
    tas as well as readability. 200,000 first printing; rights sold in 14 countries.

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