Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke

#15 in my book challenge for the year, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell took me over three weeks to read. I didn’t resent the time, in fact, I was sorry to be done. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and its characters and I admired the book for its craft. Both the characters and the story are complex and well drawn. The prose is appealingly Austen-ish, and I was glad to read JS&MN so soon after Pride and Prejudice. Clarke’s homages of prose, humor,and character were easy to see when read in proximity. This book was one I owned, but for a long time I doubted I would read it at all. To a person, everyone I knew who read the book, my husband G. Grod included, merely liked it. No one owned to loving it, and I thought one should love a book that’s so long. But when my friend Becca said she had just finished it, I decided to give it a try, since it’s one I already own.

(Aside: I thought I already noted that this year’s book challenge would be less about the number of books, and more about reading books I already own. Yet I can’t find that in an entry. Perhaps I imagined that I wrote it. But I mean it.)

I am curious why I liked JS&MN so much better than others did. The reviews are so good it’s almost ridiculous. Did the others have high expectations based on reviews, while I had lowered ones based on the non-glowing feedback of friends? G. Grod will offer only that he thought Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle books are so much better that JS&MN suffers in comparison. I haven’t yet read the Baroque Cycle, so I don’t have that potentially unflattering contrast. I entreat any readers who have read JS&MN to comment.

2 Responses to “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke”

  1. Loretta Says:

    I just missed getting this at our local op shop last week - it was 50 cents! - but some old bloke just got it before me. I assumed it was a sign that I wasn’t meant to read it, but maybe I should?
    I have the same readolution this year: to read more books I own, you’re very strong sticking to your guns. The siren song of the library is too big a lure for me.

  2. girldetective Says:

    For the library, I’ve started sending myself emails then filing them in a recommended folder so that I’m not overloading my request queue all the time, plus allowing myself to have a go at the home bookshelf. I think I calculated once that I could read one book a week, and still not finish the books I own that I haven’t read. I think perhaps a two to four year plan might be prudent. I wonder if it’s even possible not to own more books than one is able to read.

    So far, this year’s list is evenly split with 4 books each that:

    1. I read for the first time and have owned for a while (up to eight years)
    2. I read for the first time that I purchased recently
    3. I re-read and owned
    4. I got from the library (3) and was given (1)