Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jonathan, Mr. Norrell and my old friend Sneelock

Let's see, if I were to tell you that a novel is Dickensian or Potteresque or fabulous would you read it? Is my word enough? Are those adjectives tempting enough? Incredibly Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell  is all of those things and more. Jonathan is a reader's joyride through magic, alternative history and pure leave your worries on the doorstep entertainment. It's true I have my word and the lab results to prove it. I read Jonathan back in the day when it first came out in 2004 and loved it, handsold hundreds of it and prayed for a sequel. Those prayers have yet to be answered, but I still hope.

Fast forward six years. I have yet again placed Jonathan into willing hands. Lovely and smart niece O (age 14) was the recipient. One of the best things about O (and there are many) is that she trusts my book recommendations. This did not happen by accident. This was My Plan. It has taken years or from birth really of my wheedling, nagging, cajoling and reading If I Ran The Circus (O truly is my old friend Sneelock. She wouldn't mind having a circus behind either.) 1,400 times in a two year period to make this all come about. Now all I have to do is to say to O, "I think you would like this", put the book in her hands and the deed is done. Said book will be placed on the To Read pile on her night stand. it is a blessing on mankind that I use my powers for good not evil.

O/Sneelock love, love, loved Jonathan. As well she should. While she was reading it she asked me lots of questions about what was going to happen that I refused to answered. Instead I asked her what she thought was going to happen and she had much to say. How lucky am I? I have this wonderful reader in my life. And. I was right, bonus #2. I had held onto my ARC of Jonathan (despite buying many copies of it over the years and gifting it to others) knowing that one day my little O would read it and relish it as much as her pushy Aunt. That ARC will be passed onto O's reading group (She and 5 friends have a reading group! Again, how lucky am I?) as their July choice. I'll let you know how that goes.

Being a participant to O's fulsome delight when reading Jonathan gave me the opportunity to relive my own enjoyment of the novel. Jonathan is one of those books that you wish that you could read again for the first time. I guess having O read it is as close as I am ever going to come to that wish.

The suspense of discovery that the author Susanna Clarke is able to squeeze into this book is remarkably intense. I am loathe to steal any of that away by detailing any the plot. All you need to know is that you will not want to put Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell down once you begin. So block out a nice chunk of time and settle in.


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