Winner of the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Novel
A fantasy book of manners? Yes, and it works! Original and clever, this lush novel comments on the society and culture of magic. Strange and Norrell have opposing viewpoints on magic's role, and their clash provides a fabulous backdrop for this wonderful book. Just read it! It's great. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The international bestseller, reissued with a striking new illustrated cover and introduction by Neil Gaiman.
In the midst of the Napoleonic Wars in 1806, most people believe magic to have long since disappeared from England - until the reclusive Mr. Norrell reveals his powers and becomes an overnight celebrity. Another practicing magician then emerges: the young and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's pupil, and the two join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wild, most perilous forms of magic, and he soon risks sacrificing not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything else he holds dear. Susanna Clarke's brilliant first novel is an utterly compelling epic tale of nineteenth-century England and the two magicians who, first as teacher and pupil and then as rivals, emerge to change its history.
"Clarke's imagination is prodigious, her pacing is masterly
and she knows how to employ dry humor....In this fantasy,
the master that magic serves is reverence for writing." Gregory Maguire, The New York Times Book Review
"Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell may or may not be the finest English fantasy of the past 70 years. But it is still magnificent and original, and that should be enough for any of us." Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
"What kind of magic can make a nearly 800-page novel seem too short?....[Clarke's] epic history of an alternative, magical England is so beautifully realized that not one of the many enchantments Clarke chronicles in the book could ever be as potent or as quickening as her own magnificent narrative." BookPage
"Clarke's ability to construct a fully imagined world...is impressive, and there are some suspenseful moments. But her attempt to graft a fantasy narrative onto such historical realities as the Battle of Waterloo is more often awkward than clever..." The New Yorker
The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.
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. In 1990 she left London to teach English in Turin and Bilbao. She returned to England in 1992 and spent the rest of that year in County Durham, where she began work on Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
From 1993 to 2003 Susanna Clarke was an editor at Simon and Schuster's Cambridge office, where she worked on their cookbook list. She has published a number of short stories and novellas in American anthologies, including "Mr. Simonelli, or the Fairy Widower," which was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award in 2001.
Susanna lives in Cambridge with her partner, the novelist and reviewer Colin Greenland.