Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell hardcover Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004)
New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller

Bloomsbury Publishing hardcover
782 pages (left)
raven image by Portia Rosenberg

Bloomsbury USA trade paperback
846 pages (right)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell trade paperback

From the front flap of the hardcover:
       The year is 1806.  England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and it is hundreds of years since practical magic faded into the nation's past.  But scholars of this glorious history suddenly discover that one practicing magician still remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey.  Challenged to demonstrate his powers, Norrell causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and sing, and sends a thrill through the country.  The magician proceeds to London, trailed by excited rumors, where he raises a beautiful young woman from the dead and finally enters the war, summoning an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French.
       Yet Norrell is soon challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange.  Young, handsome, and daring, Strange is the very opposite of the cautious, fussy Norrell.  Still, Norrell agrees to take Strange as a pupil, and the young magician joins England's cause, enduring the rigors of Wellington's campaign in Portugal to lend the army his supernatural skill on the battlefield.
       But as Strange's powers grow, so do his ambitions.  He becomes obsessed with the founder of English magic, a shadowy twelfth-century figure known as the Raven King.  In his increasingly reckless pursuit of the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, Strange risks sacrificing not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything else that he holds dear.

Synopsis from Bloomsbury USA, the book's publisher:
       Centuries ago when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of them all was the Raven King.  A human child brought up by fairies, the Raven King blended fairy wisdom and human reason to create English magic.  Now, in the early 1800s, he is barely more than a legend, and most of England, with its mad King and its dashing poets, no longer believes.
       In the city of York, however, a society of magicians meets upon the third Wednesday of every month to read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic.  It is of their opinion that there are no practising magicians left in the country of England.  Little do they know that they are soon to encounter the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey who will cause the stone statues of the Cathedral of York to speak and dance — and a beautiful young woman to be raised from the dead, with the help of the gentleman with thistle-down hair.
       Mr Norrell goes to London, persuaded that he must make his gifts available to the government.  News spreads of the return of magic to England, and Norrell swiftly becomes a man of influence and distinction.  He meets a brilliant young magician and takes him as a pupil.  Jonathan Strange is charming, rich and arrogant.  His extraordinary talent will take him to the Napleonic Wars where he will conjure angels with flaming lances and move woods, rivers and even cities to confuse and confound the French.  But, unknown to Jonathan Strange, the restoration of English magic is founded upon a lie, and he and his wife Arabella will one day have to pay the price for that lie.  To save Arabella, Strange will have to endure madness, until he finally learns the true nature of English magic — and its creator.

Read for group discussion on January 11, 2006

How we each rated these books
Dan 9 Amy 9.5 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 9 Barb 10
Aaron 8 Cynthia -
Jackie 8 Ron u
Christine - Deb -
Mike - Stephanie 4u
Gary 9 Patty 10
Andres -    

Susanna Clarke (1959-    ) is an English writer of fantasy.

2005 Hugo Award for best novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
2005 World Fantasy Award for novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

-- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004), her first novel

Short story collections
-- The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories (2006)

Susanna Clarke - Wikipedia
Locus Online: Susanna Clarke interview excerpts (Apr. 2005)
The SF Site Featured Review: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
village voice > books > Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Excessive Candour- review of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell' (
The SF Site: An Interview With Susanna Clarke (Oct. 2004)
Bookslut | An Interview with Susanna Clarke

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