Strange and Norrell

Here’s something that’ll get to the friendly-neighborhood-demon (hey, she said it)…

I finished reading the gigantic book Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell these last couple days.

First, let me say that I was very impressed by Clarke’s use of language. She captured the feel of Lord Byron/Jane Austen’s world very well. I felt like I was reading a real history, which was incredibly cool.

::Spoiler:: (If you haven’t read it all the way to the end and you want to, stop reading…now)

I was bothered by the ending, not because of the ending, but because of what was not put in the book. For example, there is a ‘gentleman with thistle down hair’–a fairy–who wreaks all kinds of havoc upon, well, everyone in the book. We’re shown bits of his world. Then he dies. With his death, it’s like all the parts of Faery/Fairy/etc (the world outside and within our own) die too. I feel like we spent all this time in Clarke’s world but never got to spend any time there.

For my part, I thought at least Strange would turn out to be even more of an adventurer. Norrell’s a bookish, selfish man. Strange, while selfish, has a lot more action going on. There’s a conflict over the King’s Roads–it’s kinda like Chekov’s gun. It lays out in an earlier act. But then it never really goes off. It hovers there, like a character picked up the gun from the mantle, but then it never sets off.

The subplots are, in many ways, more interesting for me. I love Stephen Black and Lady Pole and Arabella–all the people who are trapped by the magic Norrell and Strange struggle so hard to understand (but in the end, never truly can). Quite frankly, I’d follow a novel based just around these guys. They were great! Conflicted. Trapped. I’d like to see if Stephen Black could’ve managed to save them all without the magicians. He definitely worked hard enough….

Good news though, for those who enjoyed a lot of Faery/Fairy/etc. Clarke has a new book coming out, with short stories about said world. Should be good.

…and that’s what I was doing while I was supposed to be finishing my own novel.

Ali Book Thoughts Distractions

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. You know, I’ve been trying to decide what I’m going to do with Thanksgiving break, and now I’m thinking a big thick book might be the ticket.Hoorah for the update! 🙂

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