Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

A friend has been hounding me to read this book for years. So, when the BBC series came out last year, I agreed to read the book before watching the series. I’ve been trying to pace myself with long books, but it’s becoming abundantly clear that 2016 will be the “year of the epic novel.” I have so many 500+ page books on my list that I’m starting to fall behind. And it doesn’t help with a book is so stinking boring.

Ultimately, I gave this one 3 stars. But the first 60% was just so awful. I felt like it was two books put together and the first one was pretty useless. Strange and Norrell are frenemy magicians in the early 1800s in England. This book tries to do a lot of things, and only a few of them are successful. I have no problem with books that juggle multiple characters and plotlines, but they must all be interesting, and I found Strange and Norrell to be pretty awful people. The minor characters were more interesting, but I have a hard time enjoying a book when the main characters are just assholes. Neither one has very little redeeming value.

I’m a little confused why this book was so popular. Maybe people reading it were just so impressed with the time period, setting, writing, etc. 1800s England definitely isn’t my thing to begin with. Everyone is too snobby and stuffy. The Stephen Black plotline was, by far, the best one, and I was sad his story ended, but pleased with the resolution. But overall, I think 3 stars is generous.


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