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Author Topic: Jonathan Strange and Dr. Norrell  (Read 1924 times)
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ElijahPrice
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« on: October 11, 2004, 04:00:31 PM »

Is anybody reading this book?  I started it a week ago and am like 100 pages in and its interesting but in a dry, dark, histroical sense.  I am still waiting to be Ahhed by it.  But I think it might  never happen...?

EP
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Bob
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2004, 04:27:07 PM »

It's gets more exciting around page 400.

I just finished it.

Very brief review: I liked it.  Very well written, with good characters.  The writing style is what really sets it apart though.  The old-style is almost poetic.  Overall, it does feel very "historical" rather than fantastical. It never gets particularly actiony or anything, though it does pick up quite a bit of excitement in the last 150 or so pages.
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Cleric7
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« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2004, 04:28:14 PM »

My wife just finished reading it. She loved it but did say that the first 100-150 pages were a bit slow. After that it really picks up, apparently.
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Charlatan
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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2004, 04:44:46 PM »

Ya I had the exact same feelings. When you get to Mr. Norrell actually doing some magic (other than the stunt in the 1st chapter) it gets a lot more interesting. I blew through the last 600 or so pages, it was a pretty fun read.

Though I certainly enjoyed it, I think it started to bog down again when Mr. Strange goes to Italy with those other people. That's not a spoiler, I'm pretty sure. smile


I have a non-spoileriffic question too:

Does anyone know if this is going to be a series (that is, everything wasn't wrapped up in a nice neat package so it COULD be... but it doesn't NECESSARILY seem like it's gonna be).
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Valael
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2004, 04:59:33 PM »

I'm only on page 220 something (Just finished the first chapter of the Jonathan Strange book/volume/part/whatever).


It's a little slow, but I like it.  There's usually something in each chapter to keep my interested enough to keep reading.  I'm kind of a slow reader, so it's going to take me a while (I've had the book for probably 3 - 4 weeks now).  I only occasionally get about a half hour to an hour in a day.


But, judging from those 220 pages I've finished, it's definitely worth picking up if you can handle a slower paced book.
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Sparhawk
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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2004, 05:03:30 PM »

Quite honestly I found Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell to be a very boring read. About halfway through I just stopped reading it and moved on to read a different book.

What made me put the book down?

The characters for one; they all seemed to be the exact same character. Not a single one of them flexed very well in their dialog. It seemed to me that they were all molded into one particular character type and then told to go recite their lines on stage as if they were attempting to chip away a brick wall with a straw. This brings me to my second complaint; over using exclamation points.

Just about every single line of dialog ended in an exclamation point or seemed as if the characters were excited all the time.  Someone could be picking at the grass and these characters would literally throw a banquet in honor the "grass picker."

My third complaint would be the formatting of the text itself. To be blunt about it, the formatting sucked. I wasn't too impressed with how the narration would be speaking for the character and then said character would take up narration and complete the author’s thoughts. At first it was charming but after 502 pages of the same format I grew tired of it. That kind of storytelling is great for beginnings and endings but and can only hold its own for so long. It would be different if the characters were actually interesting and versatile but they aren't and that definitely played a role in my becoming tired of reading the novel.

Also, footnotes were boring to read and seemed out of place. Oh and a footnote is not supposed to take up an entire page. That takes the reader out of the story and into the realm of schoolwork.

Overall the story left me dry and I had zero emotional attachment to anything involved with the tale of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.  I think that is the number one factor for me to get into a story. Characters and how they interact with the other characters and the world around them. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell read too much like a history book (a poorly written one at that) and not enough like a...

Well, a story.
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YellowKing
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2004, 05:13:54 PM »

I just finished it recently. The book was written in a style common to the era it was set in. That's something you kind of have to accept upfront, or else you'll be bored by the footnotes, formatting, dialogue, etc. A lot of your complaints, Sparhawk, might be attributed to that.

I really enjoyed it, though I also thought it dragged a bit in the middle. The story itself is extremely slow-paced, but it makes it a very rich tale when all is said and done.

I kept thinking I'd love to see a movie version of the book, though they'd have to keep it true to its Victorian roots and I don't know if Hollywood could pull it off. Part of the book's charm is that it is almost written as part of the collection of magical books that it speaks so often about.
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Sparhawk
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« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2004, 05:44:27 PM »

Yellowking: I do agree that I wouldn't mind seeing a movie version of the book. It seemed like to me that it was almost written for the big screen.

MY displeasure of the book did stem from the footnotes and dialog. It is not that I can't read and enjoy that style of writing; I just was not interested in the characters themselves. I'm sure you'll understand that in a story if you don't like the characters you'll be hard-pressed to stick with it.

I'd give the book a 2 out 5 stars. Had the characters been more interesting for me then I would have most definitely finished the book and scored it a 4.
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dmd
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« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2004, 05:54:44 PM »

This book has been a brutal struggle to read.  Some of  sparhawks points above are the same points I would bring up as negatives.  As others have written, those same points could be positives.  For me, it's like having Margret Thatcher read this to me on tape.  It's dry, lacking in characters I care about, and leaves me impatient for some action of some  kind.  I'll continue to read it until it's due back at the library; hopefully it'll pick up.
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Juntei
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« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2004, 08:07:04 PM »

I'm about 600ish pages into it and I gotta say that I like it. It is odd that this book is both interesting and boring at the same time. I'd recommend it based on what I have read so far but here's hoping the ending has a bit more excitement.
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Bob
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« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2004, 08:37:15 PM »

I liked the climax very much.
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ElijahPrice
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« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2004, 10:47:18 PM »

Well then, help me out here.  Are the footnotes ever actually important?  Because so far they have been a big waste of time, and they really make the book drag.

Secondly, what is kinda annoying so far is that there seems to be a lack of color.  Everything is grey and gloomy...  why not have some brightness to get the mind visualizing all these potentially cool scenes?

EP
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SuperHiro
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« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2004, 10:53:59 PM »

Quote from: "ElijahPrice"
Well then, help me out here.  Are the footnotes ever actually important?  Because so far they have been a big waste of time, and they really make the book drag.

Secondly, what is kinda annoying so far is that there seems to be a lack of color.  Everything is grey and gloomy...  why not have some brightness to get the mind visualizing all these potentially cool scenes?

EP


1) I really like the footnotes. They add a real sense of depth to the novel, hinting at a world and history beyond the story. If you don't read the footnotes, you're going to really miss out on a lot.

2) Of course the story is dark and gloomy... it's in ENGLAND. I'm from Seattle, the rain every day, depressing, suicide capital of the US... and I got depressed in England.
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ElijahPrice
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« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2004, 12:26:27 AM »

Quote from: "SuperHiro"
Quote from: "ElijahPrice"

2) Of course the story is dark and gloomy... it's in ENGLAND. I'm from Seattle, the rain every day, depressing, suicide capital of the US... and I got depressed in England.


Wow... well... I hope you have a sunny day soon... But I am more talking about the elements of the book, as in the character description, conversations, clothing, magic events...etc...

EP
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YellowKing
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« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2004, 01:10:36 AM »

I think that doom and gloom again hearkens back to the old Dickens novels, which consisted of the same kind of dark, dreary atmosphere. This book is written as if this stuff really happened, and that the novel is actually just another "history book" in a long line of tomes written about the two great magicians. The footnotes help establish that history, and in that way are absolutely essential.
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Nth Power
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« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2004, 01:47:22 AM »

A friend recommended it to me and I picked it up based on that.  I'm only into the third chapter, but it's somewhat entertaining so far.  Enough to keep me reading anyways.
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Zathras
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« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2004, 03:57:38 AM »

I'm about halfway through the book.  The story's picking up, and I'm definately going to finish this one.

I'd have to say that I don't mind the footnotes.   I can jump to them, and they really don't interrupt the flow of the story for me.  I would agree that the style does take a bit of getting used to, but I have read some Dickens and Dumas in the past which has prepared me for the older style of writing.
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