Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Boring Novel

Jonathon StrangeI buy most of my new books at Costco because they’re cheap, even though the selection is limited. A couple of months ago I bought Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke for $18.59 (Canadian). It’s about 800 pages, the size of dense homemade loaf of bread, and boring. What a disappointment. Here’s some of the praise it’s received:

It’s convenient to pigeonhole it as Harry Potter for grownups-and grown-up readers of J.K. Rowling will enjoy it-but its deep grounding in history gives it gravitas as well as readability.
A reader more distractible than I am might yawn for 300 pages running and still discover several book-length stretches to enjoy. I never yawned.
Susanna Clarke writes like an angel.

They’re full of shit. I not just yawned; it put me to sleep. The writing is long-winded and pompous, where the author tries to create a world full of magicians and fantasy, which just doesn’t work: the dialogue is humdrum, the characters are dull and predictable, and the environment is cartoonish.

I don’t know why this book is winning awards.

4 Replies to “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Boring Novel”

  1. I was skimming through a few of the 100 or so letters I wrote to you (Jody) in the early ’90s, and noticed that I talk a lot about books. The language is usually concise with none of the pretentiousness that comes from writing for academics — so it probably reads better than most of the crap I post here. As I gradually read my way through these old letters in the next few months, if I find excerpts that would make good book reviews, I’ll post them.

  2. Pender – ha ha :) I’m going to get to it this summer. Right now, I’m elbow-deep in knitting and sewing my costume, so no reading has been done lately.

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