Monday, November 22

not a review

i completed Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke.

i can't give a review of this book because it's utterly astonishing. i have not been gifted with the level of articulateness (!) that it requires.

but did you enjoy it?

i know that some are ready to challenge me to a duel if i cut it to shreds. thing is, i was skeptical before i even started it. it sounded vaguely like just my sort of thing, but i hesitated. i seem to be at astonishing odds in regards to reading material with two people who i like and respect and that touted its wonderfulness.

but did you enjoy it?

you know those desert island type questions? well, i'm terrible at them. i can never think off the top of my head my most favourite whatevers. the best i've got is...
If I Were to Be Stranded on an Island I Wouldn't Complain If I Had The Following Books to Read List.

Four books that always seem to crop up are;
Don Quixote, Pride & Prejudice, On the Road, I Ching, Wuthering Heights.

Next place is now taken up by Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. i can give no higher, or easier, praise.

so you recommend it?

good heavens no! it's for a most Particular Type of creature. it would give the ordinary person odd and twisted notions about; French armies, enchantment, the questionable state of Portuguese maps, messy necromancy, respectable English magic and it's proper place in the nation, Borgesian footnotes*, the usefulness of faeries, kingship, London, the gentlemanly way to walk through a mirror, libraries, the use of capitalisation, and suspect paths through English country sides, among other things. And holding this 1000+ page tome gives your hand a cramp.

do you see? you're better off without it. if you visit and ask to borrow it, i dare say you'll witness a most peculiar inability for it to release from my hands. in fact, forget i ever mentioned it. Susanna Clarke who? never heard of her.

here's a book i recommend instead, very safe.

* Please refer to Thou Art the Footnote: History, Theory & Practical Application of a Lost Skill, (2nd Ed), Yves Bookman.


  1. heeeeeheeee! I just *knew* you'd get it! I don't go around recommending this one to all and sundry either. Particularly after having been told by a couple of people I suggested it to, that "that book is bloody weird. Couldn't get past the first chapter. Last time I ask you for a recommendation, you freak". Heh.

    perhaps freakish is the Particular Type of creatures we are? Although it was a bestseller, so...

    ps - I wouldn't really have challenged you to a duel. Well, maybe a little one. Teehee.

  2. I will NOT read "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" no, NEVER. I added the book to my Goodreads list because I never a really thick novel to add to my collection. I'm not intrigued by an English magician that tries to rearrange wars and teach some mirror magic travel etiquette. Nope. I'm not going to the bookstore after school to pick it up.

    I also don't recommend you to read "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García Márquez. I think only people with weird theories about the world would enjoy the tale of a colonel who makes gold fishes, a couple whose lovemaking making encourages a farm to thrive, the ascension of the most beautiful girl in the world, 32 wars that are lost to a plague of insomnia and other things.

    I LOVED your non-review!

  3. ~a brilliant non review of such...what book...never heard of such...but as for the ones you wished to be stranded with...i like your taste in reading!!! enjoy your day ahead..warm wishes and brightest blessings~

  4. This post is fantastic : ) I laughed out loud at your recommendation at the end. There is such glee to be had in mutual enjoyment of brilliance.

    I LOVED this book.

  5. Magaly, thank you for the warning. I will do my utmost to keep away from "One Hundred Years of Solitude".

  6. love the humor here...maybe i should pick up the last book...that seems to be my speed these days!

    i have one hundred years of solitude....somewhere on a dusty shelf.

  7. LOL. I'm just laughing at your book recommendation.

    So, you have me curious! I have not read this one. (I still need to read Don Quixote, too. I only have it in Spanish, and I've only read Spanish. I'd probably have to keep a dictionary next to me if I was going to read the whole thing in Spanish. Maybe I should just get an English copy.)

  8. wow, Lisa, I speak Spanish and still haven't attempted it in Spanish. It's complicated enough. :)

  9. Love that book. Cannot speak highly enough of it, and thus don't speak of it at all. So, with you on that one.

  10. On the strength of your 'non-review' I followed the link and like you was suitably put off and promptly purchased one for my sister in law. She devours books with an insatiable appetite particularly in this genre. I have in mind to ask her if I can read it after her....or before...she doesn't know I have it yet..... hmmm now there's an idea!

  11. Yeah...I almost failed my first Spanish literature course and never attempted the second one (major factor in not getting my degree). I better just get an English copy!

  12. Hmmm, now I'm intrigued. Just reserved it from the library.

  13. Just getting caught up here through your November review and found you had read this. I loved this book too, and had completely forgotten about it!! I actually read it in the last days before Alexandra was born, when I was in that 'can barely move' stage. I read it almost non-stop for 3-4 days. It was the perfect thing...I will always remember it fondly for that reason too...the last book I read for many months that is for sure!!!

  14. Mon, upon your recommendation, I read this book. I've been waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep, and this book--I have to admit--this book put me back to sleep. I found the writing to be very good, but the pace was too slow for me until--until another one of those sleepless nights--somewhere around page 600--and suddenly--SUDDENLY it was juicy--and it didn't put me to sleep. So, for the first 600 pages I give it 3 stars, and for the last 200 pages I give it 4 stars. Funny about your "peculiar inability to release" it! Hee-hee....

  15. oh I'm so glad you came to enjoy it. The first part is steady, but I do think it's appreciated better after the fact - it sets up a complex story very well.


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