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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Susanna Clarke
Adult Fiction CLARKE

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From Publishers' Weekly:

There may be no better marriage of talents than that of Clarke and Prebble. The former spins an enchanting, epic tale of English magic in the age of Napoleon, and the latter brings it to life-footnotes and all-with a full-bodied voice, skill and aplomb that rivals that of noted narrator Jim Dale. Set in a world where the study of theoretical magic is common, but the practice of it is unheard of, this sweeping narrative follows the exploits of England's only two practical magicians, the bookish Mr. Norrell and the affable Jonathan Strange, as they struggle to revive the country's magic in very different ways. Mr. Norrell is content to publish opaque, opinionated pieces on magic's uses and misuses, but Strange is fascinated by the legend and lore of the Raven King, the so-called father of English magic. The voices Prebble lends these two disparate characters nicely reflects their personalities-Norrell's voice is brittle and sometimes shrill, but Strange's is pleasant and ironic. As the two magicians labor together to defeat Napoleon and then separately to pursue their own ends, an elusive faerie known only as the "gentleman with the Thistledown hair" watches and schemes. Clarke's novel likely contains close to 100, if not more, characters, and Prebble juggles them all with ease. Although the heavy price of this audiobook may deter some listeners, there's no better way to experience the material than to hear it performed by such a consummate actor. Based on the Bloomsbury hardcover (Forecasts, July 12, 2004). (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

This book's rather lackluster title does a grave disservice to a story of tremendous imagination and exquisite style. First novelist Clarke recounts the struggle of two English magicians to return their craft to the level of professional respect it commanded during the medieval golden age. It is 1806, and with the Napoleonic Wars raging, England calls upon Mr. Norrell, a prudent, practiced magician-scholar, to fend off the little general once and for all. Then along comes Jonathan Strange, a handsome and reckless aristocrat who tries his hand at magic and quickly excels. Admirers of Austen will find much to entertain them as they read of the magicians' travails (Norrell takes on Strange as a pupil), English economic ills, and the much darker, more dangerous forces of the Faerie world. This tour de force is sure to appeal to fans of Charles Palliser and Diana Gabaldon and anyone who appreciates a distinctive voice. Highly recommended for all public libraries.--Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

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main characters Gilbert Norell
Secretive; believes in the controlled uses of magic.

Jonathan Strange
Charming; sociable; attracted to dangerous and fantastical uses of magic; fascinated by the legend of the Raven King.

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