Friday, May 21, 2010

3. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Fantasy, #2)

With any large tome, I feel intimidated just looking at the book. Yet I feel inspired, as well. I have begun and failed to finish so many books over 400 pages. Yet I have succeeded with some as well--most were for college classes. I knew that with a new baby it might be difficult to sit and read a large book, but I wanted to start making some headway on my book list(s), so I got the audiobook from the library. I listened to this book for five weeks, mostly while breastfeeding my child! Letting my mind drift away to Clarke's magical England truly helped me get through the first difficult weeks of parenting (and no sleep). My husband and I joked that our daughter would start speaking with a British accent, since we listened to the book so much!
I found familiarity in this novel, although I had never read anything quite like it before. I began to think of Clarke as Charles Dickens meets Jane Austen, yet there was another element as well. I won't go so far as to say it was a Harry Potter-like essence, although Clarke does speak of magic as an everyday occurrence. It was more like historical fiction. Clarke spoke of real countries and a real war, just with magic thrown in.
Maybe I was sleep-deprived, but I started to believe her.
I loved this novel. I give it five stars (out of five). I loved the character development. I loved how she introduced the characters--leaving the reader in anticipation of Strange's arrival throughout the entire part one of the book, dragging out Norrell's introduction so that it suited his rather mundane existence. She had me believing in them, struggling with them, rooting for them.
When it ended, 700-some pages later, I was sad. I wanted more of that world. This is how I know when I have truly loved a novel!