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Extended Audio Sample Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel, by Susanna Clarke Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (69,892 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Susanna Clarke Narrator: Simon Prebble Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2004 ISBN: 9781593977429
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At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England-until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. 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.

Time Magazine #1 Book of the Year « Book Sense Book of the Year « People Top Ten Books of the Year « Winner of the Hugo Award « A New York Times Notable Book of the Year « Salon.com Top Ten of 2004 «Winner of the World Fantasy Award « Nancy Pearl's Top 12 Books of 2004 « Washington Post Book World's Best of 2004 « Christian Science Monitor Best Fiction 2004 « San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of 2004 « Winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel « Chicago TribuneBest of 2004 « Seattle Times 25 Best Books of 2004 « Atlanta Journal-Constitution Top 12 Books of 2004 « Village Voice "Top Shelf" « Raleigh News & Observer Best of 2004 « Rocky Mountain Newscritics' favorites of 2004 « Kansas City Star 100 Newsworthy Books of 2004 « Fort Worth Star-Telegram 10 Best Books of 2004 « Hartford Courant Best Books of 2004

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Ravishing…A chimera of a novel that combines the dark mythology of fantasy with the delicious social comedy of Jane Austen into a masterpiece of the genre that rivals Tolkien…What really sets Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell apart is its treatment of magic. Clarke’s magic is a melancholy, macabre thing, confabulated out of snow and rain and mirrors, and described with absolute realism…Clarke has another rare faculty: she can depict evil…[She] reaches down into fantasy’s deep, dark, twisted roots, down into medieval history and the scary, Freudian fairy-tale stuff. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell reminds us that there’s a reason fantasy endures: it’s the language of our dreams. And our nightmares.”

    Time

  • “Clarke’s imagination is prodigious, her pacing is masterly, and she knows how to employ dry humor in the service of majesty.”

    New York Times

  • “What kind of magic can make an 800-page novel seem too short? Whatever it is, debut author Susanna Clarke is possessed by it. USA Today on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

  • Ravishing...A chimera of a novel that combines the dark mythology of fantasy with the delicious social comedy of Jane Austen into a masterpiece of the genre that rivals Tolkien...What really sets Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell apart is its treatment of magic. Clarke's magic is a melancholy, macabre thing, confabulated out of snow and rain and mirrors and described with absolute realism ... Clarke has another rare faculty: she can depict evil ... [she] reaches down into fantasy's deep, dark, twisted roots, down into medieval history and the scary, Freudian fairy-tale stuff. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell reminds us that there's a reason fantasy endures: it's the language of our dreams. And our nightmares. Time
  • 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 on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years. It's funny, moving, scary, otherworldly, practical and magical, a journey through light and shadow--a delight to read, both for the elegant and precise use of words, which Ms. Clarke deploys as wisely and dangerously as Wellington once deployed his troops, and for the vast sweep of the story, as tangled and twisting as old London streets or dark English woods. Closing Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel after 800 pages, my only regret was that it wasn't twice the length.... From beginning to end, a perfect pleasure. Neil Gaiman, author of Anansi Boys, American Gods, and the Sandman series
  • Immense, intelligent, inventive...Clarke is a restrained and witty writer with an arch and eminently readable style. Entertainment Weekly on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Over the course of nearly 800 pages Clarke channels the world of Jane Austen, the Gothic tale, the Silver-Fork Society novel, military adventure à la Bernard Sharpe or Patrick O'Brian, romantic Byronism and Walter Scott's passion for the heroic Northern past. She orchestrates all these fictive elements consummately well...Many books are to be read, some are to be studied, and a few are meant to be lived in for weeks. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is of this last kind. The Washington Post on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Wonderful. At almost 800 pages, it is an immense, densely plotted story, peopled with a a vast cast of extremely well-drawn characters, filled with unexpected events, ancient prophesies,varied and exotic settings, and all manner of human and inhuman conflict, and it is built one splendid scene upon the next. Toronto Globe and Mail on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell comes across as equal parts Jane Austen and Charles Dickens flavored with Rowling and Tolkien. It's inarguably one of the year's best and most original works. National Post (Canada)
  • Combines the wit of Jane Austen with the subterranean spookiness of the works of Arthur Conan Doyle. Seattle Times on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • An enthralling, unique read. Baltimore Sun
  • Witty dialogue, cunning observations, and intriguing footnotes...[A] sweeping adventure full of telling details, mixing history and fantasy to create worlds of deep imagination that seem as real as our own. San Francisco Chronicle on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • While Jonathan Strange is every bit as whimsical and playful as the Harry Potter books, it is also grave and upsetting, the very opposite of comforting children's entertainment...Clarke has delivered a book of universal truths and unexpectedly heartbreaking acuity. Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • Extraordinary...Will enchant readers of fantasy and of literary fiction alike. Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • A smashing success...History and fantasy form a beautiful partnership in this detailed, authentic, and heartfelt novel. Booklist (starred review) on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Utterly enchanting. [Clarke's] union of historical fiction and fantasy is fresh, it is surprising, and it will appeal to those who want nothing more than to be carried away to a world crafted by a superb storyteller. Denver Post on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Extraordinary...If Harry Potter is the kind of book that makes you want to be a kid again, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is the kind of novel that will remind you that being an adult should be a whole lot more fun. Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Combining folklore and fantasy with horror-story imagination, [Clarke] creates a Napoleonic-era England alive with the promise--and danger--of uncontrollable forces...Clarke's sober style keeps the fantasy grounded, and meticulous historical research brings the magical episodes to terrifying life. People (Critic's choice, four stars) on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • The most sparkling literary debut of the year. Salon on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Mesmerizing. Harper's Bazaar on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • This 800-page work of fantasy--think Harry Potter sprinkled with the dust of Tolkien and Alasdair Gray--posits an extraordinary alternative history of England where magic, fairies, spirits and enchantments were once part of everyday life...This incredible work of the imagination, which took Clarke more than 10 years to write, ends all too soon. New York Post (four stars) on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Here is a writer who remembers that true fairy tales carry a sting and the creatures themselves were never properly domesticated to the nursery. Her uncanny book is an object lesson in the pleasures--and risks--of enchantment. Village Voice on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • I found it absolutely compelling. The narrative drive is irresistible and I could not stop reading until I had finished it. The narrator's tone is beautifully judged. It's full of wonderfully deadpan humour and its reticence leaves the reader to make up his or her mind about the characters. I loved all the invented scholarship and was fascinated by the mixture of historical realism and utterly fantastic events. I almost began to believe that there really was a tradition of 'English magic' that I had not heard about. The author captures the period and its literary conventions with complete conviction. And a large part of the fun is seeing how an early nineteenth century novel copes with the impact of magic. It's an astonishing achievement. I can't think of anything that is remotely like it. Charles Palliser, author of The Quincunx, on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

  • “Utterly enchanting. [Clarke’s] union of historical fiction and fantasy is fresh, it is surprising, and it will appeal to those who want nothing more than to be carried away to a world crafted by a superb storyteller.”

    Denver Post

  • “Witty dialogue, cunning observations, and intriguing footnotes…[A] sweeping adventure full of telling details, mixing history and fantasy to create worlds of deep imagination that seem as real as our own.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Combines the wit of Jane Austen with the subterranean spookiness of the works of Arthur Conan Doyle.”

    Seattle Times

  • “A smashing success…History and fantasy form a beautiful partnership in this detailed, authentic, and heartfelt novel.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Extraordinary…Will enchant readers of fantasy and of literary fiction alike.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “The most sparkling literary debut of the year.”

    Salon

  • “Combining folklore and fantasy with horror-story imagination, [Clarke] creates a Napoleonic-era England alive with the promise—and danger—of uncontrollable forces…Clarke’s sober style keeps the fantasy grounded, and meticulous historical research brings the magical episodes to terrifying life.”

    People (Critic’s choice, 4 stars)

  • “Over the course of nearly 800 pages Clarke channels the world of Jane Austen, the Gothic tale, the Silver-Fork Society novel, military adventure à la Bernard Sharpe or Patrick O’Brian, romantic Byronism, and Walter Scott’s passion for the heroic Northern past. She orchestrates all these fictive elements consummately well…Many books are to be read, some are to be studied, and a few are meant to be lived in for weeks. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is of this last kind.”

    Washington Post

  • “Immense, intelligent, inventive…Clarke is a restrained and witty writer with an arch and eminently readable style.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “What kind of magic can make an 800-page novel seem too short? Whatever it is, debut author Susanna Clarke is possessed by it.”

    USA Today

  • “Unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years. It’s funny, moving, scary, otherworldly, practical, and magical, a journey through light and shadow—a delight to read, both for the elegant and precise use of words, which Ms. Clarke deploys as wisely and dangerously as Wellington once deployed his troops, and for the vast sweep of the story, as tangled and twisting as old London streets or dark English woods. Closing Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel after 800 pages, my only regret was that it wasn’t twice the length…From beginning to end, a perfect pleasure.”

    Neil Gaiman, acclaimed bestselling author of Anansi Boys, American Gods, and the Sandman series

  • Gorgeous...A terrific, phenomenally ambitious book. The Onion on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • An instant classic, one of the finest fantasies ever written. Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Novel
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A 2005 Audie Award Finalist
  • Selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award
  • One of the 2004 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2005 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel
  • A 2004 Guardian First Book Award Finalist
  • A 2004 Time Magazine Top 10 Book
  • Among shortlisted titles for Audie Award Finalist, 2005

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nida | 1/22/2014

    " - Niel Gaimen meets Jane Austen - With vivid descriptions of all the splendour and vulgarity of early 19th century London and the Napoleonic Wars, Clarke displays and extraordinary talent to so encapsulate the reader, that reality begins to seem surreal while the surprising notion of rational Victorian magicians becomes commonplace. Admittedly the first volume and Mr. Norrell seem quite tedious, however the second volume is filled with ironic humour, leaving the final volume with page-turning horror, at time reminiscent of the Romantics. The plot itself has sufficient enough twists to keep the reader captivated; while the foundation of the story exhales a sense of British patriotism, which I feel is quiet lacking in modern society. Despite all of this, the novel ends on a heart-warming note, true-to-form with Austen. This book is, quite literally, a 'modern classic' for all English classic lovers. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill | 1/20/2014

    " This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It is so well composed and written I believe it will be a classic. This is the story of the return of magic to England and the two great magicians who influenced the events. The back story is fantastic with supporting footnotes and a large list of books to support the stated facts. All of which have been created by the author. Bravo! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Genevieve | 1/6/2014

    " Unfortunately this book was a did-not-finish. While the writing is excellent and the premise of an alternate history of England where magic plays a role is intriguing; this was just too boring. I could not get into this book for the life of me. Mr. Norrell is just so dull; the footnotes while adding nice details and creating a fleshed out magical history, honestly just took me out of the story. I got to the point where I just couldn't be bothered to read them. I never made it to Jonathan Strange's tale. I'll stick to the upcoming BBC adaptation. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 1/5/2014

    " I've never read a book like it. Enjoyed the story and characters very much, but the telling is very long. There's no dead spots, it's just looong. Good for long flights. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josh | 12/20/2013

    " One of the best books I've ever read. Imagine Neil Gaiman writing in the 19th century. The ending feels a little hurried, but this book is all about the (long) journey. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kirsten Eisele | 12/1/2013

    " Very underwhelming. I started out impressed with the tone of the book, which does mimic Austen-era writing very well, but the story never really gripped me. It kind of floundered around. This would have made a much better 300 page novel than an 800+ page one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dennis Gray | 11/28/2013

    " For a first novel this a remarkably complex tale, and a very good read. Combining historical fact and fantasy history makes for an interesting version of England during the Napoleonic Wars. Highly recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lesley Eirich | 10/27/2013

    " Great book, bit long-winded in parts. I thought the way the author re-wrote history using magic very entertaining! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Richard Bush | 6/19/2013

    " An unusual book from a talented writer. Sort of Neil Gaiman via Jane Austen. And whats more the BBC have announced they are to screen an adaption! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leister | 6/3/2013

    " Wow, what a wild ride. When I started this book, knowing nothing about the background of the book, I thought this was written a very long time ago, with the tone of the book being very "old English", so I expected a slow moving book. Boy, was I wrong. This book has everything magical in it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura Mcnamara | 4/3/2013

    " This is a book for people who love well-researched historical fiction. It's not light fantasy - it's history with a fantastical twist. If you're a binge reader like I am, get ready to spend a 3-day weekend lost in this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caterina Crouch | 3/20/2013

    " This is by far my favorite book of all time. The language used is eloquent, which is something I'm unable to find in other recently published novels. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rebecca Carlsen | 2/21/2013

    " I didn't finish this book. I got about halfway and just couldn't go on. I found it tedious and didn't connect with any of the characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cindy Newton | 12/28/2012

    " I loved it! It is a fantastical history of magic in England, written in a Victorian style. The history is accurate and well-researched, with magical events woven in. Strongly recommend it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dianna | 11/3/2012

    " Second time read, I just can't get enough! I love how it is so charmingly written. :0) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robyn | 6/4/2012

    " I really enjoyed this, but thought it should have ended a little sooner. Just a little. It was nice to find a classic style and great story from a contemporary writer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marlene | 5/16/2012

    " I love rambling, lilting narratives, so there's no doubt I loved this book. There were a couple of places where I had to find the nearest person, and read them a line or two. This book is all about Voice, and the Voice is magical. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doug Bonar | 3/30/2012

    " Lots of fun. Light. Definitely not generic fantasy. I finished it wishing there were more books, but ultimately very, very glad that it wasn't book one of a series. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jonathan Tew | 1/10/2012

    " The book was an interesting story, innovative with its story line. I found the first two thirds slowly paced with the third at breakneck speed. Due to this disparity it took me a while to complete the book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sally Bullock | 6/17/2011

    " We killed trees to print this?! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Morgan | 5/21/2011

    " I loved this. It's long, but worth it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joanno | 5/20/2011

    " This is my favorite book. FAVORITE. I have reread it many times. I feel as though I just stepped into London, Eng. in the 18th century. Ms. Clarke writes so well I can bring that world alive by rereading these pages. EXCELLENT. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rp | 5/17/2011

    " I never got through this one. I kept trying to read the footnotes and it ruined the story flow. Maybe I will try gain someday, but it's a book that seems like work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shay | 5/16/2011

    " It was interesting but very confusing too. I still look for a possible sequel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bill | 5/15/2011

    " Very interesting combo...a magic fantasy in the form of a Victorian comedy of manners. Pretty hefty book but I quite enjoyed reading it on some long flights. Not the deepest book in the world but a great story and lots of fun. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shannon | 5/14/2011

    " Long, ugly, well-created 19th Century Piece. Like a Grimm's Fairy Tale. Can't seem to sync most authors' presentation of elves (bad guys) with Orlando Bloom and Cate Blanchett, though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lesa | 5/13/2011

    " I picked up this book on a whim, even though it seemed a little sketchy, and I'm really glad I gave it a shot. It's captivating and well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leigh | 5/10/2011

    " Kept waiting for something to happen...and then it didn't! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Naomi | 5/10/2011

    " I couldn't sleep while reading this. Fantastic fantasy writing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 5/10/2011

    " It was a fascinating universe and I loved the alternative reality where magic was true and the vividness of the culture, but it just went on so long it was hard to finish. Needed more story to carry all that burden of a created world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenny | 5/6/2011

    " Really interesting, but it moved so slowly, I had trouble finishing it. "

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