Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke - review by Christopher Hart

Christopher Hart

Talking Statues

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell


Bloomsbury 782pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

AFTER THE SUCCESS of other pastiche nineteenth-century door-stoppers such as Tipping the Velvet and The Crimson Petal and the White, here is another addition to that fashionable set. Although the events of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell actually take place during the Regency (between the years 1807 and 1817), in spirit it certainly has more in common with the loose, baggy works of Dickens or Thackeray, with its huge, proliferating plot and cast of colourful characters, than with a Jane Austen miniature.

Susanna Clarke's remise is that in the earlu 1800s there were plenty of people still studying magic, but no one actually practising it. One group of occult scholars, the York Society, gets to hear of a reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbev (the names are to be relished), who is

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