Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell came out in 2006 to wide acclaim. I, being the fantasy lover/reader that I am, heard about it and knew I had to read it. For some reason, I had recently received a gift card to a bookstore that allowed me to buy the hardcover version (an unusual luxury for a poor student!). So I eagerly sat down to read the novel. It was a very engaging read and I definitely wanted to keep reading it but at the end of it I wasn’t really sure what I thought of it. The idea of “everyday magic” was appealing to me and I loved the detailed and accurate Regency setting. But for some reason, my initial reaction was that I didn’t like it.
A few years later, I began working in a public library and came across The Ladies of Grace Adieu: and Other Stories while shelving. I hadn’t forgotten Jonathan Strange, in fact, it was, and still is, one of the books I can’t forget. So I decided to try and give this collection of short stories a try. I loved them immediately. They are all fairy and magic stories and Clarke writes about fairies differently than any other author I have read. Or perhaps it is not so much the subject matter as it is Clarke’s writing style. The tone of the entire book feels more like a scholarly compilation than anything else. But I have read the stories now several times and have enjoyed them more with each reading.
Oddly enough, I have still only read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell that one time. Perhaps it is time I read it again.