Susanna Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is one of those delicious stories that transports the reader to another world, so enthralling that it is difficult to leave.
The setting is historical, England in 1806, as the Napoleonic Wars are being fought on land and at sea. Most people believe that magic no longer exists, but two very different magicians know differently. Mr. Norrell is a scholarly and reserved man who becomes a celebrity overnight when he reveals his powers by making the statues in York Cathedral speak, and bringing back a young woman from the dead (though it is conditioned on her spending half of her time with the fairies). Jonathan Strange is young, handsome, intuitive, and daring. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces to help England defeat France.
I was delighted to learn that the BBC is adapting the book into a miniseries we may see in the US as early as next year, starring Bertie Carvel (Les Misérables) and Eddie Marsan (The World’s End). Stay tuned for more information.