The Ladies of Grace Adieu Info

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The Ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories - bk1637; Bloomsbury; Susanna Clarke; pocket_book; 2007

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Reviews for The Ladies of Grace Adieu:

3

Aug 01, 2013

(B+) 76% | Good
Notes: An antiquarian pastiche, it's nothing remarkable but like a ride in the countryside it's pleasant and has an airy charm.
5

Jan 20, 2010

How rare it is to find a book which is exactly what its author meant it to be. There are no missteps here, everything is deliberate, and much of it masterful. It is not surprising that, when he first read one of Clarke's short stories, Neil Gaiman remarked:

"It was terrifying from my point of view to read this first short story that had so much assurance ... It was like watching someone sit down to play the piano for the first time and she plays a sonata."

The English tradition of Fairy Stories is How rare it is to find a book which is exactly what its author meant it to be. There are no missteps here, everything is deliberate, and much of it masterful. It is not surprising that, when he first read one of Clarke's short stories, Neil Gaiman remarked:

"It was terrifying from my point of view to read this first short story that had so much assurance ... It was like watching someone sit down to play the piano for the first time and she plays a sonata."

The English tradition of Fairy Stories is one of the core inspirations of all fantasy, and yet it seemed that these odd, delightful, sometimes frightening stories were doomed to die out with their greatest practitioners, such as Kipling and Dunsany. Yet I think, in an anthology, Clarke's stories could stand up well against anything they produced.

She is so good at making a whole world out of hints and references. Notice that she never has to get out of character and explain anything to the reader, she is always able to make the dialogue and the situations do the work for her, letting the action of her scenes reveal everything. This not only creates a strong, confident authorial voice, it also means that she is never obliged to break her pacing to 'catch us up', and so the thick, vibrant tone of her stories is never interrupted or betrayed.

Yet for all of the similarity of their setting and theme, each story's tone is very different. Each may have aspects of the other, but overall, it is remarkable how completely she is able to shift tone between stories that could have been very similar, under a less skilled pen.

Some are very funny, others intriguing, and several rather unsettling. The general theme which binds these stories is the use of magic by women, and the place it holds for them. Clarke lamented that, in her grand work, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, she did not have the opportunity to explore the experience of women in her world--at least, not as fully as she could have wished.

She did not want to make the error of betraying her well-researched setting by including female characters who were too thoroughly modern to make sense in that period. It is probably the single most common error amongst writers of historical fiction: that they tend to include protagonists who are inexplicably modern feminists who bear little relationship to the women of the time.

I am glad that Clarke wanted to avoid this, but it is unfortunate that she was not able to find a way, within Norrell, to make a female character who was strong and central but not in an anachronistic way. A woman does not have to be acerbic, mighty, wealthy, or politically powerful in order to be strong, she just needs to have as much personality and self-reliance as the male characters.

But we do get that vision here--and it is an interesting one. Her magic is most definitely magical, as it is not embodied in simple tools and objects, but permeates all parts of reality, thick with idea, contradiction, and unpredictability. Her magic is a living thing, capricious and wonderful.

The illustrations were excellent, with Vess evoking the classic style of the high period of English Fairy Tales more effectively than any other modern artist I have seen. And as with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, the binding, cover, layout, and font selection were all so carefully chosen to harmonize together that it warms a bibliophile's heart.

The fact that such an interesting, unusual, complex book has become critically and economically successful is actually astounding. It's so rare that things all come together and everyone seems to get it right.

Usually, when I hear the phrase 'feminist rewrite of a fairy tale', I shudder and think of a terrible place that female genre authors go to die, to be read only in compulsory Women's Studies classes. Yet there are a few who are capable of defying convention and actually doing something worthwhile for fairytale women: Angela Carter, and Susanna Clarke.

This is because to them, 'feminism' does not seem to mean making women into men, it does not mean making them masculine, forceful, ruthless, and unemotional. It does not mean making them better. Often, it means showing their flaws, because that is the only way to let the reader understand their personal experience. We are not all equally human in our perfection, but in our foibles.

And for a perfect unveiling of our foibles, few are equal to Susanna Clarke.

My List of Suggested Fantasy Books ...more
4

Oct 09, 2011

Rating: four very satisfied stars of five

The Publisher Says: Following the enormous success of 2004 bestseller and critics' favorite Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke delivers a delicious collection of ten stories set in the same fairy-crossed world of 19th-century England. With Clarke's characteristic historical detail and diction, these dark, enchanting tales unfold in a slightly distorted version of our own world, where people are bedeviled by mischievous interventions from Rating: four very satisfied stars of five

The Publisher Says: Following the enormous success of 2004 bestseller and critics' favorite Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke delivers a delicious collection of ten stories set in the same fairy-crossed world of 19th-century England. With Clarke's characteristic historical detail and diction, these dark, enchanting tales unfold in a slightly distorted version of our own world, where people are bedeviled by mischievous interventions from the fairies. With appearances from beloved characters from her novel, including Jonathan Strange and Childermass, and an entirely new spin on certain historical figures, including Mary, Queen of Scots, this is a must-have for fans of Susanna Clarke's and an enticing introduction to her work for new readers. Some of these stories have never before been published; others have appeared in the New York Times or in highly regarded anthologies. In this collection, they come together to expand the reach of Clarke's land of enchantment--and anticipate her next novel.

My Review: What a delectable cocktail peanut of a book. I wish it had been available before Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, because it would have made a perfect gateway drug to the longer, more intense, and more exhausting high of the Big One. But that's like complaining that you only won $10 million in the lottery..."oh shut up" is the best response.

Nine stories set in Miss Clarke's vastly improved nineteenth-century England, the one where magical beings are and the operations of magic happen to all the people. These operations aren't always pleasant, or even kind ("Mrs Mabb", "Antickes and Frets"); sometimes, though, the balance of justice gets a magical turbocharge with satisfying results ("Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby", "John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner"); and for the rest? Sheer pleasure to read.

Clarke creates this magical England carefully, a term I use despite its connotations of grindhood and laborious tedium; the care, gratefully, is virtually invisible to the reader. It shows itself in the effortless naturalism of these clearly contra-natural stories. It is a sign of a master storyteller working at close to peak performance. One never thinks, "Oh c'mon!" about the antics of the magical characters, since they are provided with clear, though sometimes skewed, motives for their actions. It's a pleasure to meet John Uskglass and see his interaction with the mundane world in all its bilateral confusion and misunderstanding! Tom Brightwind and Dr. Montefiore are the classic mismatched buddies that I do honestly meet in real life; even though one is a fairy that doesn't change their dynamic.

The physical book, the hardcover edition that I have anyway, is as pleasurable to possess as the stories themselves are. The handsome cloth binding, stamped with Charles Voss's beautiful floral illustration, begins the pleasure; beautiful oxblood colored endsheets are rich, inviting, somewhat unsettlingly colored; then the line drawings within the text and the handsome, clear typography complete the impression of careful, thoughtful presentation of these delightful tales.

Anyone who quailed at the sheer massiveness of the tome Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell should read these stories, and understand that equal pleasures of a more sustained sort await between those widely separated covers. Anyone who simply loves good storytelling and good stories told should run and get this book. It's very much worth your time and money.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. ...more
3

Mar 09, 2017

The governess was not much liked in the village. She was too tall, too fond of books, too grave, and, a curious thing, never smiled unless there was something to smile at.

We delve in to 19th Century England, to made-up places that are eerily similar to those that existed then and do now. The stories are all magical; some involve human magic users (Jonathan Strange himself makes a nice appearance here) and some involve those mysterious members of the Other World. Some have morals, some have “The governess was not much liked in the village. She was too tall, too fond of books, too grave, and, a curious thing, never smiled unless there was something to smile at.”

We delve in to 19th Century England, to made-up places that are eerily similar to those that existed then and do now. The stories are all magical; some involve human magic users (Jonathan Strange himself makes a nice appearance here) and some involve those mysterious members of the Other World. Some have morals, some have enclosed story-lines and some are just stories for the purpose of being stories.

I am not the biggest fan of short stories at the best of times and not even Terry Pratchett can blind me to complete infatuation with them, so I won't be praising these beyond that. However, I enjoyed them for what they were, which is dipping back in to the alternate-history world of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

It isn't necessary to have read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and these stories can be enjoyed very much on their own. They're written well and have good story arcs (for shorts) and offer up a glimpse in to the kind of thing you can expect from Susanna Clarke. However, being Short Stories and being Not A Fan, I only found them so-so. Some were more interesting than others, but they're all relatively short and easy enough to get to the end of them without much strain.



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5

Sep 03, 2019

Well now. After having successfully avoided reading Susanna Clarke's short fantasy collection for a decade and a half after having loved Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, I finally guilted myself into picking up the damn book and giving it a go.

Why so trepidatious? Because I thought nothing could top JS & Mr. N. And indeed, this does NOT top JS & Mr. N. Rather, it deepens it.

I really shouldn't have worried. :) Clarke's beautiful language, great charm, and naughty Faries are all in Well now. After having successfully avoided reading Susanna Clarke's short fantasy collection for a decade and a half after having loved Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, I finally guilted myself into picking up the damn book and giving it a go.

Why so trepidatious? Because I thought nothing could top JS & Mr. N. And indeed, this does NOT top JS & Mr. N. Rather, it deepens it.

I really shouldn't have worried. :) Clarke's beautiful language, great charm, and naughty Faries are all in evidence here. We get shorts including Strange and many of the personages we loved from the novel, places reminiscent but not directly tied to the novel, call-outs to all Regency literature, Irish folktales, and best of all, throughout every story, is the CHARM. Let me stress this: Charm.

I read every one of these with a silly, easygoing grin.

Now that's some REAL English magic. ...more
3

Nov 26, 2016

3ish stars.

As with any collection of short stories, there are some brilliant pieces here and some duds. Since these stories are all more or less based in the same alternate history universe established in a previous book by the author, there are perhaps more specific expectations present than in other collections. For the most part, this book holds up under those expectations.

Susanna Clarke has achieved a supreme level mastery of language. Her prose is incredible. It doesn't feel like schtick, 3ish stars.

As with any collection of short stories, there are some brilliant pieces here and some duds. Since these stories are all more or less based in the same alternate history universe established in a previous book by the author, there are perhaps more specific expectations present than in other collections. For the most part, this book holds up under those expectations.

Susanna Clarke has achieved a supreme level mastery of language. Her prose is incredible. It doesn't feel like schtick, it feels natural and perfect. There is every bit as much wit and humor as in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

And then there's the world she's created full of magic and wicked faeries and proper English ladies and gentlemen.

Did you ever look into an English novel? Well, do not trouble yourself. It is nothing but a lot of nonsense about girls with fanciful names getting married.
Fortunately she includes some really great female characters in these stories that make up for the lack in quantity in JS&MN. That's sort of the basis for these stories. So it's surprising that there are one or two stories that really only mention magic tangentially and some that after reading I thought, "Was there really a point to that?" There's no way these short stories could have captured the same magic or reach the same breadth of scope as JS&MR but, if nothing else, it felt great to return to this wonderful world for a little while. I am not-so-patiently waiting for Clarke to give us another novel.

Favorite stories: The Ladies of Grace Adieu, Mrs. Mabb, and especially Tom Brightwind.

Least favorite stories: Mr Simonelli, Antickes and Frets ...more
5

Sep 06, 2011

This is a collection of short stories by Susanna Clarke, author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. She works the same territory as she did with the novel, and to quite brilliant effect. One or two of the stories are connected to the novel but others are not. One story is a tip of the hat to Neil Gaiman.

Her style and tone imitate those of the best nineteenth-century authors such as Jane Austen. The stories are dry, witty and humorous on the surface but capable of great depth, darkness and This is a collection of short stories by Susanna Clarke, author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. She works the same territory as she did with the novel, and to quite brilliant effect. One or two of the stories are connected to the novel but others are not. One story is a tip of the hat to Neil Gaiman.

Her style and tone imitate those of the best nineteenth-century authors such as Jane Austen. The stories are dry, witty and humorous on the surface but capable of great depth, darkness and pathos. Yet Clarke is not locked into one particular style, as she brilliantly demonstrates in the story "On Lickerish Hill."

Her theme, to put it simply, is the unpredictability and capriciousness of the sidhe or faery-folk. These are not the glorious Elves of Tolkien's high epic. Neither are they the silly and saccharine Victorian sprites of Lewis Carroll. They are a race more wild and dangerous, masters of trickery and illusion, capable of friendship, but curiously able to persecute not only their enemies but even their own kin with scarcely a qualm. They seem always intent on feeding their egos by impressing, seducing or entrapping gullible humans. They are relentless in seeking revenge for the slightest injury done them. Reality and logic seem to bend and warp whenever they are in the vicinity. Yet, occasionally, some lucky humans can get the upper hand if they are persistent.

Clarke embroiders a fascinating tapestry of folklore, fairy tale and historical detail in this engaging collection. ...more
4

Jun 09, 2012

In 2004 Susanna Clarke published a groundbreaking book called Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel. Written in prose reminiscent of Jane Austen and Horace Walpole, it put a gothic-almost-romantic spin on the Fantasy genre that surprised and enthralled many, making it an instant bestseller with a cult following of readers who, to this day, simply cannot wait for the sequel. Knowing that it took nearly ten years for Clarke to write JS&N, it seems more than fair to assume that the wait for the said In 2004 Susanna Clarke published a groundbreaking book called Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel. Written in prose reminiscent of Jane Austen and Horace Walpole, it put a gothic-almost-romantic spin on the Fantasy genre that surprised and enthralled many, making it an instant bestseller with a cult following of readers who, to this day, simply cannot wait for the sequel. Knowing that it took nearly ten years for Clarke to write JS&N, it seems more than fair to assume that the wait for the said sequel is not yet over and that readers will simply have to be patient for a little while longer. So in the meantime why not enjoy ourselves with The Ladies of Grace Adieu, Clarke’s first collection of short stories which she published in 2006? While not as good as JS&N, it still bears the mark of the author’s genius and will by no means be a waste of your precious reading time. That is, of course, provided that fairy tales are your cup of tea...

THE LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU is the first story in the collection. It deals with the friendship of three women and their mutual inclination for ghoulish magic, and is one of my favorites.

ON LICKERISH HILL is Clarke’s take on the Rumplestiltskin tale. Written as a diary in old-fashioned English, it starts with the subtle taste of a delicate vintage then quickly moves on to much bitter notes. In other words, not my favorite.

MRS MABB is about a woman whose boyfriend dumps her for the fairy Queen Mab and tries to get him back. Will she succeed in her endeavor? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON MISPLACES HIS HORSE is another one of my favorites. It recounts how, after entering Faerie, the titular duke manages to rewrite––or rather “re-weave”––his future to his liking. Love it!

MR SIMONELLI, OR THE FAIRY WIDOWER is the fifth story in the collection, and I, well, didn’t care much for this one…

TOM BRIGHTWIND, OR HOW THE FAIRY BRIDGE WAS BUILT AT THORESBY is absolutely brilliant and I loved every single word of it. As for what it’s about, well folks, it’s all in the title!

ANTICKES AND FRETS is a very short and brilliant tale about Mary, Queen of Scots, in which Clarke’s masterful use of English is reflected in every word. A total winner!

JOHN USKGLASS AND THE CUMBRIAN CHARCOAL BURNER is the last tale of the bunch, and, by and large, my favorite one. It is a deceptively unassuming story about the Raven King (a main character in JS&N and a central one in Clarke’s mythology) and how he was more or less outsmarted by a simple charcoal burner. A diamond in the rough of a story, is what it is!

OLIVIER DELAYE
Author of the SEBASTEN OF ATLANTIS series
...more
4

Jan 06, 2013

4.5/5

I'm not nearly as put off by short stories as I used to be, but when the author in question has only been experienced via massive tome of snail-slow story building and the most mincing of emotional turnabouts (thank you, England), my hopes were not high. Lucky for me, Clarke can not only deliver her wit and world immersion in more minute packaging, but knows how to successfully explore her strengths. Of course, it's all very polite and English and even Ye Olde in parts, but that particular 4.5/5

I'm not nearly as put off by short stories as I used to be, but when the author in question has only been experienced via massive tome of snail-slow story building and the most mincing of emotional turnabouts (thank you, England), my hopes were not high. Lucky for me, Clarke can not only deliver her wit and world immersion in more minute packaging, but knows how to successfully explore her strengths. Of course, it's all very polite and English and even Ye Olde in parts, but that particular Clarkean mix of subtle menace and dry humor that I loved so much in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is here in force.

There are eight stories if one does not count the magically inclined academic introduction, four of them tickling my fancy and all of them worth reading. JS&MN is a wonderful book, but like many wonderful books it suffers from a lack of women Doing Things, and it was someone mentioning Clarke improving on that in this set of stories that first sparked my interest. "The Ladies of Grace Adieu" was both the titular and the first of the stories, and was so well done in terms of building off the older and weightier tome with a fresh female perspective that I do hope Clarke continues it in JS&MN's sequel. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and their mastery of the more morbidly efficient aspects of magic demand it.

The other stories I enjoyed were "Mr Simonelli or The Fairy Widower", "Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby", and "John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner". Mr. Simonelli is one of the rare epistolary narrators whose all too reliable narration proves more disturbing than any obfuscation; combined with small town maneuverings of money and Fairy Intrigue, it was a story I was sad to see end. Tom Brightwind was so full of hints at social concerns that it almost broke through the English mold of Not Talking About Such Things, leaving me with a great deal of food for thought as all good short stories should. Both it and John Uskglass had great moments of humor, the latter proving the the perfect combination of Powerfully Awesome Person Gets Theirs By The Most Absurd Happenings Imaginable that I disturbed people sitting near to me with my cackling. Unfortunately for them, I was reading a treebook, so there was no possibility of silent disapproval of the Those Dem Technological Millenials sort. At that moment John Uskglass and his court where preparing to go hunting. A cow wandered into the stable-yard. It ambled up to where John Uskglass stood by his horse and began to preach him a sermon in Latin on the wickedness of stealing. See? I'm still giggling. Whoever's in charge of bringing JS&MN to the screen needs to hurry up already so I have an excuse for rereading it. Or Clarke could let us know how far along we should expect JS&MN's sequel to be published. Either one works. ...more
5

Oct 06, 2013


I read Susanna Clarke's novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell back in 2005. It is long. I had the audio version from the library; I used to listen an hour or more a day during a long commute, yet I had exhausted all allowed renewals and still wasn't done. So I became a scofflaw, until they were about to send out the cavalry to get their book back.

She is a magical writer. She is embedded in some other reality in her writing, the reality of some earlier mindset that we still recognize when she
I read Susanna Clarke's novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell back in 2005. It is long. I had the audio version from the library; I used to listen an hour or more a day during a long commute, yet I had exhausted all allowed renewals and still wasn't done. So I became a scofflaw, until they were about to send out the cavalry to get their book back.

She is a magical writer. She is embedded in some other reality in her writing, the reality of some earlier mindset that we still recognize when she embroiders it for us. And in two stories she indeed has her characters embroider, stitching the future into reality or ripping it out as the case may be. In "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse," the said gentleman's clumsy attempts, required by necessity, provide an apt metaphor for politicians then and now--well, at least, now.

Her fairies are not Disney fairies; far from it. Nor are they Tinkerbell, my go-to fairy reference point. Fairies are big, powerful creatures. They are men. Not that there aren't women fairies, but they are under paternalistic rule. Power dominates.

Fairies are amoral. They attract women and have their way with them. They have little attachment to the offspring they scatter about--although they may need human women to breed them and sometimes as wet nurses.

Human women have the same power differentials, so some illicit magic can come in handy to level the playing field. In the first story--the title story--Jonathan Strange puts in an appearance. He exhibits consternation at the antics of the titular ladies, but, under the circumstances, what choice did they have? It seems they protected the defenseless.

We were listening on a car trip. On one story I fell asleep twice at the same point and never could discover the cause of the narrator's demise! But I learned fairies can make you think you are surrounded by beauty and freedom when filth and imprisonment are the reality. And they are hard to kill; not immortal but death-resistant. They want to get their way and stop at nothing.

But they don't always get it. In a Rumpelstiltskin-like story the bride does find out the Pharisee's name. Make that the fairy, the one who lives on Lickerish Hill. (Watch out for conflating your "other" and your folklore.)

In a later story, Jewish physician David ben Israel uses his knack for argumentation to try and make the pesky fairy Tom Brightwind mend his ways and use his powers for good. In what may be the earliest retrojection of "Judeo-Christian" values, this story compares and contrasts the moral values of Christians and Jews with those of fairies. A version of using the enemy from outer space to bring about peace on earth? (A small but noteworthy aspect of this long story.)

Ladies, if a lady fairy steals your intended, be prepared to get stronger and fight back!

I especially loved the last story. A lowly peasant type done wrong by the king of Fairy is vindicated with the help of heavenly saints yet prohibited from exacting the harsh revenge he desires. He is so easily made happy and content.

Susanna Clarke does inhabit an alternative reality, one to which she can grant us entry, but she wasn't always a writer. She did work in publishing, and she taught English as a second language in Turin, Italy and Bilbao, Spain, and in 1993, when she was about 34, she took a five-day creative writing course in fantasy and science fiction. She had been rereading Lord of the Rings. Also, while she was in Spain, she began having a "waking dream" of a man in 18th century clothes talking to English tourists in Venice. It was then she began to try and write her novel. Around the same time she took a job editing cookbooks that she kept ten years--which is how long she took to write her novel. So, writing it was even more interminable than reading it! She says she would never have begun if she had known how long it would take her. So let her be an inspiration, you aspiring novelists!
...more
4

Jan 12, 2012

3.5 stars

I have to admit that I found the first four stories in this collection only fair-to-middling, though the title tale had some nice moments of understated menace. From the point of "Mr. Simonelli, or the Fairy Widower" on, however, I was fully on-board and greatly enjoyed the rest of the collection.

Simonelli is a great character, equal parts self-aggrandizing rogue (for, we learn, obvious cultural reasons) and concerned pastor of his flock. I'd love to see more of his reminiscences in a 3.5 stars

I have to admit that I found the first four stories in this collection only fair-to-middling, though the title tale had some nice moments of understated menace. From the point of "Mr. Simonelli, or the Fairy Widower" on, however, I was fully on-board and greatly enjoyed the rest of the collection.

Simonelli is a great character, equal parts self-aggrandizing rogue (for, we learn, obvious cultural reasons) and concerned pastor of his flock. I'd love to see more of his reminiscences in a longer format from Clarke. He's quite a resourceful and entertaining character.

Tom Brightwind shows us that while fairys are generally unpleasant in their interactions with others (both of the human and fae persuasion), they are somehow capable at times of maintaining the friendship of those that are their betters (morally, if not socially). I'm surprised that David Montefiore hasn't met a sad fate due to his constant remonstrances to his self-satisfied Fairy Friend, but I imagine his equanimous and generally pleasant character helps to protect him. This tale was, in some ways, most like _Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell_, at least in the inclusion of copious notes giving amusing and enlightening details on the fairy culture which the tale displays.

"John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner" was great for several reasons: first it is the first tale in which we get a first-hand look, however erroneous, at the mythical Raven King; second it had some of the best, laugh-out-loud moments in the whole collection.

Overall an entertaining set of stories, though I wish Clarke would get around to writing another, more substantial tome in the vein of Strange & Norrell. (Perhaps Mr. Simonelli is available?) ...more
5

Feb 02, 2012


In recent years I have discovered the wonder of the short story through the genius of writers such as Chekhov, Lovecraft and Poe. In turn I have also discovered the satisfaction that arises from writing a short story that works as fiction. To complement this I have also in the past year discovered the wonder of one of the great fantasy works I have ever read in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.* In The Ladies of Grace Adieu Susanna Clarke combines both of these two separate entities which I have
In recent years I have discovered the wonder of the short story through the genius of writers such as Chekhov, Lovecraft and Poe. In turn I have also discovered the satisfaction that arises from writing a short story that works as fiction. To complement this I have also in the past year discovered the wonder of one of the great fantasy works I have ever read in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.* In The Ladies of Grace Adieu Susanna Clarke combines both of these two separate entities which I have discovered a love for with great power. As such she is quickly becoming one of my favourite female authors and would have to feature on a top ten list of all favourite authors.

The stories in The Ladies of Grace Adieu are perhaps not so polished and smooth as Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell yet as short stories each one is a single gem within a fine collection. Susanna Clarke delivers again with wit, storytelling and sly asides to the reader. If Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is one of the most controlled and beautifully written debuts (and novels) I have read then these are perhaps the finest debut short stories I have read to date.

Each of the short stories contains a touch of the fae and as such is required reading for anyone who loves fairytales and fairies in general. Not all of the stories are set in the alternate history world devised in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell yet each story feels as if it should belong in that world (even the story set within the world of Neil Gaiman's Stardust feels right at home in the mixed world of magic and Victorian England that Clarke created). My personal favourites were, however, the three stories which clearly were written as part of Jonathan Strange's world: The Ladies of Grace Adieu, Tom Brightwind and John Uskglask and the Cumbrian Charcoal.

I would fully recommend this collection as both a starting point for a reader wanting to read the afore mentioned Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell or as a companion book. Anyone who enjoyed Susanna Clarke's debut novel should make sure they read this relatively short collection in any case. Particularly while they await news of the upcoming sequel to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell or are planning out their next re-read. A highly recommended collection of charming fairy short stories.

*This will have to suffice as a footnote for now. I simply intend to point out that Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is also one of the greatest modern fiction works I've read and I would recommend it to anyone who likes character, beautiful prose, magic and spellbinding artistry in a work of fiction. ...more
2

Dec 28, 2008

A collection from the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, cast in a similar scholarly tone, but focused much more specifically on the fairies.

. . . Meh.

Most of these stories are in the world of Jonathan Strange (who himself makes an appearance in the titular story). I liked the novel all right, though it didnt blow my mind or anything. But the style which is bemusing and engrossing over six hundred pages is remote and rather inaccessible in short form. Clarkes fairies are also A collection from the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, cast in a similar scholarly tone, but focused much more specifically on the fairies.

. . . Meh.

Most of these stories are in the world of Jonathan Strange (who himself makes an appearance in the titular story). I liked the novel all right, though it didn’t blow my mind or anything. But the style which is bemusing and engrossing over six hundred pages is remote and rather inaccessible in short form. Clarke’s fairies are also universally vicious, tricky, and unpleasant, which was intriguing and alarming when woven into a larger alternate history but, in isolation, is just unpleasant. See the loathsome narrator in “Mr. Simonelli: or the Fairy Widower.” Perhaps I am something of a backward reader, but I generally require a hook into at least one character I don’t outright hate in order to enjoy a story.

The stories are presented as if in an academic anthology, and the packaging slips over into painfully self-conscious sometimes -- the deprecatory little mention of Jonathan Strange in the scholarly introduction made me roll my eyes. And mostly? I just didn’t care. “The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse” is a bit of fanfiction set in Gaiman’s Stardust, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I finished it and went, “so what was the point of that?” I said that more than once.

. . . meh.

...more
3

Mar 08, 2015

Set in the same world of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, this is a collection of short stories. The introduction to the volume by the character Professor James Sutherland considers who wrote them and of the current state of magic within Great Britain, and just how much the faerie world can influence the regular world.

There are a number of different stories in here, from the tale called On Lickerish Hill, where a lady resorts to magic to spin enough flax to satisfy her husbands demands. There Set in the same world of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, this is a collection of short stories. The introduction to the volume by the character Professor James Sutherland considers who wrote them and of the current state of magic within Great Britain, and just how much the faerie world can influence the regular world.

There are a number of different stories in here, from the tale called On Lickerish Hill, where a lady resorts to magic to spin enough flax to satisfy her husbands demands. There is a cameo appearance of the village from Stardust in the story where The Duke of Wellington crosses the wall to find his horse. There are stories of how a faerie bridge was made, and of love lost and gained.

I wasn’t keen on every story, but there were some good ones. Particularly liked On Lickerish Hill, the Stardust one, and the one with John Usglass or the Raven King. Worth reading for those that enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
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4

Sep 08, 2008

This collection of short stories by the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell serves as an introduction to the world of magic and faeries in England. The friend who lent it to me referred to it as "starter Susanna Clarke." In that respect, the book was very successfulI took enough pleasure in these tales enough to move Clarke's formidable 1000-page novel to the top of my to-read list.

The title story purports to elaborate on an enigmatic action undertaken by Mr. Strange in Clarke's larger This collection of short stories by the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell serves as an introduction to the world of magic and faeries in England. The friend who lent it to me referred to it as "starter Susanna Clarke." In that respect, the book was very successful—I took enough pleasure in these tales enough to move Clarke's formidable 1000-page novel to the top of my to-read list.

The title story purports to elaborate on an enigmatic action undertaken by Mr. Strange in Clarke's larger work. Though I suspect my unfamiliarity with that book inhibited my understanding of the magical details, the witty commentary on gender roles needed no additional explanation.

"On Lickerish Hill" is a retelling of the Rumplestilskin fairy tale. What made this piece interesting to me was Clarke's use of the more liberal spelling traditions of earlier centuries. I've never read an extended piece written in such a fashion; I was surprised to note how easily I fell into reading about blacke dogges and sallade-herbes.

Clarke's stories are tightly woven and I was easily drawn into most of the tales. The story "Mr. Simonelle or the Fairy Widower," told through a letter and a series of journal entries, had me so curious about its ending I wished she had continued it further. Upon finishing the book, my re-reading of the introduction provided me with additional insights into this story that made me smile quite a bit, though I did not ultimately learn the outcome I had hoped to.

The intersection of the world of faerie and human is a fascinating place, and Clarke's clever collection is a good place to begin that exploration. ...more
4

Jun 20, 2007

This is a perfectly charming set of fairy tales done by the writer of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It is impeccably written, I'd almost say flawlessly, to produce the appropriate tone for the various stories and their status as fairy tales. One of the tales, On Lickerish Hill (a retelling of Rumpelstilskin) for example, is written in archaic 18th century style English, which is a lovely touch. I would read these to kids, if I had any to read to, my only reservation being that the writing is This is a perfectly charming set of fairy tales done by the writer of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It is impeccably written, I'd almost say flawlessly, to produce the appropriate tone for the various stories and their status as fairy tales. One of the tales, On Lickerish Hill (a retelling of Rumpelstilskin) for example, is written in archaic 18th century style English, which is a lovely touch. I would read these to kids, if I had any to read to, my only reservation being that the writing is a bit advanced.

My favorite story was far and away "Mr. Simonelli, or the Fairy Widower," though "Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby" is a very close second. For fans of Jonathan Strange, he makes an appearance here. As does Mary Queen of Scots and the Duke of Wellington (always a pleasure to see you, sir, but I'm beginning to think Clarke has a bit of an obsession with you). The wonderful illustrations have to be mentioned as well. The hardcover version of the book is gorgeous. And the illustrations inside are reminscient of turn of the century Brothers Grimm books, and some of them even look a little Goya-esque, from his dark period. I thought they were just enchanting. (Appropriately so.)

But it is just a collection of fairy tales, however well written. It was a temporary slaking of the thirst for more Susanna Clarke. Not the same as her long form! Write more, Ms. Clarke! Pleeease? ...more
5

Nov 30, 2011

The The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories
bow and bid you, "How do you do?"
Grabbing Jonathan Strange by the collar,
head up Lickerish Hill to spend a dollar.

Oh, but you say, the English spend pounds
and not dollars, Its all in the sounds
I reply, Besides, a dollar, a pound, a denarii
is all the same in the wily, Mrs. Mabb's eye.

Its more Antickes and Frets than John Uskglass
and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner could let pass.
But let bygones be bygones because I do spy
Mr. Simonelli, so don't be shy, The The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories
bow and bid you, "How do you do?"
Grabbing Jonathan Strange by the collar,
head up Lickerish Hill to spend a dollar.

Oh, but you say, the English spend pounds
and not dollars, Its all in the sounds
I reply, Besides, a dollar, a pound, a denarii
is all the same in the wily, Mrs. Mabb's eye.

Its more Antickes and Frets than John Uskglass
and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner could let pass.
But let bygones be bygones because I do spy
Mr. Simonelli, so don't be shy,

He may tell us the tale of how, of course,
The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse
or if we are really, extra special lucky
Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thorseby.

But hopefully, if you learn anything at all
I hope it is that faeries can be tall,
and that with a peek into the culture of Sidhe
you will leave even more learn-ed.

(Short story titles in bold lettering.)




...more
4

Oct 11, 2013

Like many readers, I was blown away by Susanna Clarkes debut novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which won both the Hugo and the World Fantasy Award upon its publication in 2005. I was a bit late to the party, not getting to Jonathan Strange until 2013, but within 24 hours of finishing it I was on my way to the library to pick up this short story collection, Clarkes only other published work. The Ladies of Grace Adieu is a collection of eight stories set in the same universe as Jonathan Like many readers, I was blown away by Susanna Clarke’s debut novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which won both the Hugo and the World Fantasy Award upon its publication in 2005. I was a bit late to the party, not getting to Jonathan Strange until 2013, but within 24 hours of finishing it I was on my way to the library to pick up this short story collection, Clarke’s only other published work. The Ladies of Grace Adieu is a collection of eight stories set in the same universe as Jonathan Strange, and all eight have something to offer:

The Ladies of Grace Adieu: Clarke's first published story (1996), this tale is set in the early 19th century and describes how three young women use magic to “flip the script” and exert some much-needed power in a patriarchal society. I don’t know how much editing (if any) Clarke did when she included the story in this 2006 collection, but I thought this was a pretty incredible debut and a very memorable short story.

On Lickerish Hill: Clarke does Rumplestiltskin. The 17th century Suffolk prose takes a bit of getting used to, but I thought it was a nice touch. A familiar story, but well told.

Mrs Mabb: Maybe my favorite story of the entire collection, featuring a 19th century woman trying to win her fiance back from a mysterious lover. Very strong.

The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse: Another excellent short, this one starring the Duke of Wellington who wanders into the realm of Faerie by mistake. Readers familiar with Jonathan Strange (which featured the Duke as a supporting character) will get a kick out of this one.

Mr Simonelli, or the Fairy Widower: Mr. Simonelli must choose a wife while battling a strange Faerie aristocrat. Some very cool details surrounding Faerie magic, but this was not my favorite story of the bunch.

Tom Brightwind, or How the Fairy Bridge was Built at Thoresby: Clarke is praised so often for her razor-sharp prose, her inspired characterization, and her other merits that it’s easy to forget how funny she can be. That dry, understated humor is on full display in this short story, featuring a Jewish doctor and his flighty Faerie friend. I really enjoyed this one.

Antickes and Frets: A reimagined version of the detention of Mary, Queen of Scots. Some cool magical elements, but one of the less memorable stories in the collection for me.

John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner: Another story that will please Jonathan Strange fans. This short piece of pseudo-folklore tells the legend of how the great Raven King was outwitted by a humble charcoal burner. Another example of Clarke’s gift for humor and a very fun read.

Conclusion
Clarke is one of the finest talents in fantasy today, and this collection shows why. Clarke modifies her writing style from story to story, depending on the voice she is trying to craft, but all eight are superbly written (especially if you have a taste for 19th century prose, which many of these stories mimic). If you’ve read and enjoyed Jonathan Strange, you should get your hands on this collection. 4.5 stars, highly recommended! ...more
4

Jun 23, 2010

I'd forgotten exactly how wryly amusing Clarke's style can be. It's good to read her again, this time in short story form.
"The Ladies of Grace Adieu" -- A companion piece to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, featuring Jonathan and Arabella Strange, but only tangentially about them. This is sly and a little creepy; a subtle tale of female revenge and male cruelty/fear.
"On Lickerish Hill" -- A quirky spin on the "Rumpelstiltskin" tale, in dialect with 17th century spelling (which, at first, was I'd forgotten exactly how wryly amusing Clarke's style can be. It's good to read her again, this time in short story form.
"The Ladies of Grace Adieu" -- A companion piece to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, featuring Jonathan and Arabella Strange, but only tangentially about them. This is sly and a little creepy; a subtle tale of female revenge and male cruelty/fear.
"On Lickerish Hill" -- A quirky spin on the "Rumpelstiltskin" tale, in dialect with 17th century spelling (which, at first, was a bit of a challenge to read).
"Mrs Mabb" -- It didn't turn out how I feared it might.
"The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse" -- A little campfire story. Set in the world of Gaiman & Vess's Stardust, but all it really has in common with it is the setting of Wall.
"Mr Simonelli or the Fairy Widower" -- I liked how Simonelli deals with his problems. Clarke is very clever in how she hints at Simonelli's secret heritage and shows aspects of it throughout while still having him behave properly for the type of person he thinks he is. But there's also a very creepy aspect to the story in the awful things that happen to the young women. Of course, it is rather the stuff of fairy tales--the villain has to be villainous...still, I found some of it too disturbing to enjoy.
"Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby" -- Entertaining with a bit of naughtiness. Tom reminded me a bit of Peter Pan, but more charming and without the fear of getting mixed up with women. I liked David, the doctor--one of those nice guys who has questionable friends and still somehow retains his niceness. I very much liked how the bridge turned out.
"Antickes and Frets" -- A bit like the Duke of Wellington story in reverse. I didn't really care for the characterisation of Mary, Queen of Scots.
"John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner" -- Quirky in the way that old folk tales can be. Not what I would've expected a story featuring Uskglass to be, but it was quite entertaining. I wish Clarke would write a whole book about Uskglass.
If you've already read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and haven't read this yet, I recommend it. It has the same style and voice as the novel. If you've been intimidated by the sheer size of JS&MN but are curious, reading this will give you a taste of what you'll find there.
If you are a fan of 19th century British classics and are considering a foray into the fantasy genre, I recommend Clarke's work.
I do enjoy Clarke's voice. I've formerly described her writing style and subject matter as "Jane Austen meets JK Rowling"; but now that I've read Terry Pratchett (his magic users live in a sort of nebulous fantasy past that feels a lot like the 19th century), I think it's more like "Austen meets Pratchett."
And, by the way--Charles Vess' illustrations add some lovely whimsy to the book. ...more
4

May 31, 2008

One of the many things I enjoyed about Susanna Clarkes debut novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell was the footnotes that would go on at length telling some strange tale about fairies or magic. They were short stories set apart from the main story, but important to the world of the novel nonetheless. The Ladies of Grace Adieu is a collection of short stories similar in spirit to the footnotes in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

Susanna Clarkes ability to write in period style is quite One of the many things I enjoyed about Susanna Clarke’s debut novel, “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” was the footnotes that would go on at length telling some strange tale about fairies or magic. They were short stories set apart from the main story, but important to the world of the novel nonetheless. “The Ladies of Grace Adieu” is a collection of short stories similar in spirit to the footnotes in “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell”.

Susanna Clarke’s ability to write in period style is quite impressive. One would almost think that she had traveled forward in time from the Victorian Age just to regale us with her fairy tales. She can even write in the style of the 17th century without missing a beat. Despite Clarke’s period writing style, her work is quite readable and seems as fresh as it is.

The title story, “The Ladies of Grace Adieu”, is a mysterious story about 3 young ladies in the town of Grace Adieu. They appear to be perfectly normal young women. One is married to a much older gentleman. One is the gentleman’s ward. The third is governess to two young orphan heiresses. Jonathan Strange and his wife and her brother make a cameo appearance in this story. The Stranges are visiting Mrs. Strange’s brother who is vicar at the local church. He is enamored by Cassandra, the gentleman’s ward. The story takes some odd twists and turns that I didn’t quite follow but found quite haunting.

“On Lickerish Hill” is a straight forward re-telling of the Rumplestiltskin story. It takes place in the 17th century and is told in the English of that time when spelling wasn’t standardized. The words all look odd; it’s like reading early Colonial American works. But, it is easier to read than it seems. The language is what makes this story engaging.

“Mrs. Mabb” is an odd fairy tale about a young woman who refuses to believe that her beloved has left her for a mystery woman. Even though she appears to have gone insane, she never gives up trying to find the elusive home of her rival, Mrs. Mabb.

“The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse” takes place in the town of Wall—the setting of “Stardust” by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess. It’s a very short, amusing piece about celebrity and embroidery.

“Mr Simonelli or the Fairy Widower” is an intriguing story. If Edgar Allen Poe wrote fairy tales, this would be the result.

“Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby” didn’t work quite as well as the other stories in this collection. I could see no reason why Tom and David were friends. The ending held no surprises and the magic seemed less than magical.

“Antickes and Frets” is yet another tale of embroidery and celebrity.

“John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner” is part fairy tale, part fable. The Cumbrian charcoal burner is probably the best character in this collection.
...more
3

Aug 26, 2019

This is a collection of short stories, set in the same universe as Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and having minor appearance of several characters, namely Strange, Wellington and the Raven King. The collection was published after the novel, but a large share of the stories was written before and if he novel is marvelous because we see a formed style in a debut work, the stories often show the search for the same style. Therefore overall ranking is 3* even if some stories are 4*

1 This is a collection of short stories, set in the same universe as Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and having minor appearance of several characters, namely Strange, Wellington and the Raven King. The collection was published after the novel, but a large share of the stories was written before and if he novel is marvelous because we see a formed style in a debut work, the stories often show the search for the same style. Therefore overall ranking is 3* even if some stories are 4*

1 Introduction by Professor James Sutherland, Director of Sidhe Studies, University of Aberdeen the same joke as multiple footnotes in the novel, to have a preface as if written within the same universe.
The Ladies of Grace Adieu the story of three girlfriends and witchery, a parallel version of magic, with a meeting with Jonathan Strange. For me the story looks unfinished, 2.5*
On Lickerish Hill a re-telling of Rumpelstiltskin story but set in England and told by the girl, who had to guess the name. done with ‘olde style’ English, a nice easy story, 4*
Mrs Mabb - a faerie queen kidnaps an officer, who out to marry a young lady, who tries to save him, 3.5*
The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse the Duke follows his horse to the Faerieland and sees his past and future embroided by a maiden. 5*
Mr Simonelli or The Fairy Widower - a diary of an arrogant new country parson, who meets faerie noble and then have to save some innocent girls, 4.5*
Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby a dilapidated town in need of a bridge, a eighteenth-century Jewish physician and magician, David Montefiore, and his fairy servant, Tom Brightwind. 3.5*
Antickes and Frets a magic version of historic rivalry between Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth, Queen of England. The enjoyment of the story heavily depends on reader’s knowledge of history. 3*
John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner a story, initially mentioned in the novel, how a lowly charcoal burner won over the Raven King, a nice stylization with help of many saints. 3.5*
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4

Apr 29, 2009

When I read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, I formed the impression that Susanna Clarke wrote in the style of Trollope. After reading this collection of short stories, I've changed my mind. She's closer to Austen. There is only one wrong story, "On Lickerish Hill", a retelling of a British version of "Rapunzel".

In general, the stories add to the world that Clarke created in Strange. My favorite by far is "Mrs Mabb". It is the best story in the collection. "Mrs Mabb" about a woman who rescues When I read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, I formed the impression that Susanna Clarke wrote in the style of Trollope. After reading this collection of short stories, I've changed my mind. She's closer to Austen. There is only one wrong story, "On Lickerish Hill", a retelling of a British version of "Rapunzel".

In general, the stories add to the world that Clarke created in Strange. My favorite by far is "Mrs Mabb". It is the best story in the collection. "Mrs Mabb" about a woman who rescues the man she loves from a fairy. It reminded me strongly of Austen's Persuasion. Clarke's characters of Mr. Fox and Venetia are very reminiscent of Captain Wentworth and Anne. It is a very understated but touching story.

The collection also includes "Antickes and Frets" which presents an alternative view of why Mary, Queen of Scots did so much embroidery with Bess of Hardwicke. It was funny and dark.

All the stories have Clarke's light touch of humor and manners. If you like fantasy and the world of Austen, then read this collection. ...more
1

Mar 08, 2008

As I was reading this while waiting for brakework on my car to be completed, I really couldn't start bashing my brains in with the hardback first edition in front of other sensitive types. Yes I was upset, and yes I kept looking down at my krispy kremes wondering if I should power through them early in an attack of emotional eating. If you want to read a terrible, simply hideous, attempt at pastiche of phaeries, pharisees, faeries and more fairies...by all means, reade on. Otherwise, throwe As I was reading this while waiting for brakework on my car to be completed, I really couldn't start bashing my brains in with the hardback first edition in front of other sensitive types. Yes I was upset, and yes I kept looking down at my krispy kremes wondering if I should power through them early in an attack of emotional eating. If you want to read a terrible, simply hideous, attempt at pastiche of phaeries, pharisees, faeries and more fairies...by all means, reade on. Otherwise, throwe thise messe upone thee bonnie barbie. ...more
1

May 06, 2019

This certainly didn't change my opinion of this author, I wasn't a fan of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but I also can't say that I'm a fan of these stories. Unfortunately the way this collection was pitched to me was that it focused more on the ladies and their role in magic, but I didn't feel like it was an accurate or particularly inspiring portrayal.
Personally I didn't enjoy the book for the most part. I definitely think some stories were far better than others, but overall it's not a This certainly didn't change my opinion of this author, I wasn't a fan of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but I also can't say that I'm a fan of these stories. Unfortunately the way this collection was pitched to me was that it focused more on the ladies and their role in magic, but I didn't feel like it was an accurate or particularly inspiring portrayal.
Personally I didn't enjoy the book for the most part. I definitely think some stories were far better than others, but overall it's not a book I would recommend sadly. 1* ...more
4

Jan 13, 2018

I first read this shortly after finishing Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and I think I was a bit disappointed because I wasn't quite finished with those characters and I really wanted more on the grand and dramatic side. This time around I loved these stories a lot more, it was nice to go more domestic, gentle and in depth in the world created by Susanna Clarke, especially as I loved the amount of footnote asides in JS&MN. I'd expect that Clarke could probably write three or four more I first read this shortly after finishing Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and I think I was a bit disappointed because I wasn't quite finished with those characters and I really wanted more on the grand and dramatic side. This time around I loved these stories a lot more, it was nice to go more domestic, gentle and in depth in the world created by Susanna Clarke, especially as I loved the amount of footnote asides in JS&MN. I'd expect that Clarke could probably write three or four more collections of similar little stories based on the JS&MN footnotes alone, which I wouldn't say no to, though I don't think is very likely to happen.

I also love the fact that Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell are (while I love the characters) pompous enough to suppose that they're the only people making magic in England, and then their author follows up the huge tome by sliding over to us a collection of stories that basically says "Indeed they were quite mistaken". ...more

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