coverJonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I like this book, but it is not a page turner. It reads like a Dickensian, Victorian drama, but Dickens it is not. I feel bad for not loving this book from the outset because so many people I know and who’s opinions I trust have loved this book, but conversely I also know people who have struggled. It’s been on my radar to read for several years but it is a big book – a very big book – and now never seemed the right time. I remember seeing a photo that a friend posted of who she made the book more manageable by doing the unthinkable to a book and slitting the spine in half and making it two volumes for the bus!

My catalyst for reading it now, was the major BBC TV adaptation of it this year, and for this reason I am glad that I’ve read it, but it is a book that is hardwork, and a very long slog. I mentioned how it reads like a Dickensian drama: possibly of the worst kind. A Dickensian drama it is not, and I think it is overlong. The story could have been tighter, and shorter, whilst being no less epic.

Also, I found myself wondering who I should be caring for? Jonathan Strange? Or Mr Norrell? Neither are particularly likeable. I think I might have been tempted to side more with The Gentleman, or The Raven King himself.