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Susanna Clarke

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Title: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell
Author: Susanna Clarke

As you probably know by now, I am usually unfair when it comes to thick books. I hate them. This is not the place to elaborate, though, since I am planning a somewhat more serious article on the subject of long novels, but for now, let us just note that I have difficulties with long books, especially if the number of pages means that the content is watered down.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell belongs in the alternative history genre, taking place in the beginning of the 19th century. The setting is England (most of the time) and the story is about the return of English magic as propagated by Mr. Norell and, later, his student Jonathan Strange. The novel is about their relationship with society, magic, faeries and each other.

The ideas, concepts and intrigues which span these 800 pages are expertly written and do not lack in originality. Several times I got that feeling which I so long for when reading books and watching films, the feeling that an idea is absolutely marvelous and that I would have had no chance at all of coming up with it myself.

The problem is that the end result after dividing the number of cool ideas with 800 is pretty feeble. I do not want to spend so much time to receive so little in return per unit time, when I could have read three normal-length novels instead (which would arguably have offered much more). If Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell would have been half as long, I might have given it twice the number of snails.

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