May 15, 2013

Wish List Wednesday #137: Susanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell"

WLW is a recurring blog segment in which I highlight a book I have on my wish list. Sometimes it's a new release, sometimes a beloved classic, and sometimes it's a hidden gem.

I may be a rabid reader, but there is an ungodly number of books that I should read that I have not yet gotten around to, and this is one of them. For as long as I've been lurking book blogs, Susanna Clarke and her historical fantasy novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, has been recommended as a must read.

Set during the Napoleonic Wars, two famed magicians from England join forces to fight against France, only to have their friendship strained when one explores the darker side of wielding magic in the pursuit of victory.

Ah, this does sound like the kind of book I'd go for. Though, there are some folks who have had unkind reactions to the writing, specifically a shared aversion to footnotes, which seem to litter the novel. I'm no fan of the footnote myself, but I tend to ignore them most of the time, so I can't imagine they'd be that much of a hindrance, especially in a novel. As long as the story is compelling, Susanna Clarke can pepper every page with footnotes for all I care.

What about you? Have you read this book and if so, were the footnotes or other idiosyncrasies too much of a distraction for you?


  1. This book is one of my all time favorites, and if you have the time, I say read it! The first part of the book is rather dry, but once you get into the meat of it you won't want to put it down.

    Also, just wanted to say thank you for introducing me to one of my new favorite authors, Joe Hill. I won the novel, Heart Shaped Box, from you quite awhile back and have been addicted since.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Gef, I really enjoyed the book BUT I ended up having to go the route of Audiobook. I tried and tried to read it and really liked it but it was a slog. But good. I know that doesn't help much LOL!

  3. Ken - Glad you enjoyed the novel. If you're into short stories at all, you will definitely need to look up 20th Century Ghosts.

    Andrew - Audio might be the way to go. If it's a hefty book, anything digital would be preferabble, as I've learned with Stephen King hardcovers.

  4. Weirdly I don't remember the footnotes being an issue for me... I've also listened to it on audiobook which is a really charming way to follow the epic tale. The only downside is that the narrator's voice is so soothing I dozed off quite a bit, so it took me a lot longer to get through than it should have.
    But I do love the book. It's one of those books I always feel a little heartbreak for when I see it in a charity shop as it means the previous owner didn't treasure it quite as much as I do.

    It is ALWAYS in a charity shop.

    It really reminded me of Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels - all of those sprawling inter-connected tales, with Faerie slap bang in the middle of it all.

  5. I haven't read this of yet, but it's one I've always wanted to get my hands on.

  6. I LOVED this book, even though I don't usually have the patience for long novels - fortunately Clarke has also written a collection of short stories that I can't wait to read.