Thursday, December 8, 2016

Should You Bother? Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark

It's been a hot minute since I last posted, because Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was a LONG BOOK. At first glance, this book seems to be right up my ally. It's fantasy, set in Edwardian London, about magicians. Sold! 1,000 pages? About magic? Easy. Oh, there's a BBC show? Sure! Let me finish reading this book first!

I first bought the auiobook of this at first, and it was really wordy. I couldn't follow along as I completed work, so I had to put it down. Sometimes reading the book versus listening to it is more manageable, so I figured I would check it out of the library and give it a second chance.

I should have trusted my gut. It's not that it was bad. Clark is incredibly inventive and creative, taking Edwardian London and twisting it to include magic as if our universe always had magic.

But it was wordy, and about... 400 pages too long?  There were footnotes, that I skipped for much of the book. I don't remember a lot of what happened, except Jonathan Strange in the war, there was some beef with Mr. Norrell and Jonathan, and some women got into deep shit because of Strange and Mr. Norrell.

It soon became interesting about 7/8th of the way through, but I'm not sure if it's because I was excited to be finished the book, or actually the events in Venice were interesting. I could even argue that there should have been 2 books, but so much of Jonathan Strange was unmemorable that I don't think 2 books would have been wise.

So, should you bother? No. The BBC show was entertaining, and cut out most of the book to focus on the key points. It made for a more enjoyable way to experience the story instead of muddling through 1,000 pages of a book.