Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Originally published in 2004, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell received renewed interest with the release of an eponymous BBC miniseries dramatization of the book. Author Susanna Clarke’s first (and only) novel came in the wake of the Harry Potter series, directing her reader’s interest in the history of English magic and fairies to two early 19th Century humans (aka, muggles) who were practicing what was thought to be a dead art. Enter gifted novice Jonathan Strange, who stumbles almost happenstance upon magic, and reclusive hoarder of spells and magical texts, Gilbert Norrell. Though their approach to magic makes them constantly at odds with one another, they are brought together by a desire to “return magic to England” and use its powers to help Great Britain in the Napoleonic Wars. As each magician’s power grows, so does that of the omnipotent fairy, the Raven King, forcing Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell to put aside their differences once and for all to protect England and those they love from the Raven King’s grasp.

Even if you’ve already seen the TV miniseries, Susanna Clarke’s 864-page book is well worth the read!

— From Alison's Picks


In the Hugo-award winning, epic New York Times Bestseller and basis for the BBC miniseries, two men change England's history when they bring magic back into the world.

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.

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. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk 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.

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 entitled "The Ladies of Grace Adieu, and Other Stories."

Praise For…

"This novel took 10 years to research and write, according to publicity material; for readers at least, the author's arduous task results in a smashing success--it's an exceptionally compelling, brilliantly creative, and historically fine-tuned piece of work. The brilliance of the novel lies in how Clarke so completely and believably creates a world within a world..." - Booklist, starred review

"Clarke's imagination is prodigious, her pacing is masterly and she knows how to employ dry humor in the service of majesty." - The New York Times

"The most sparkling literary debut of the year." - Salon

"An instant classic, one of the finest fantasies ever written." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Product Details
ISBN: 9781582346038
ISBN-10: 1582346038
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: August 11th, 2005
Pages: 864
Language: English