Am on a Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell high. Just watched the last (of 7) episode this EVENING. And finished the book this MORNING.
Shouldn’t have done that. Yet – episodes disappear quickly from our favorite video site (I don’t live in the UK), and don’t subscribe to cable. So what else was a girl to do?!?
LOVED this series. And, at the beginning, it finally induced me to take off the book shelf my first-edition copy of the book. Yeah, the _one_ thing I ever got in on at the ground floor. And the one book I even bought someone as a gift, rather than simply recommending it. The novel wasn’t for everyone – at the time (back in 2004), readers seemed to exist in two separate camps: those who loved the book and those who tossed it to one side in frustration.
How well I remember those days! Susanna Clarke joined readers (via Barnes and Noble) online for discussions… I drove miles and miles to bookstores and libraries, trying to get copies of all of Clarke’s earlier short stories… Adored her short story about Wellington (on her website back then), and was crazy to locate her contribution to The New York Times, a short about Mary Queen of Scots… Then out came The Ladies of Grace Adieu – the collected shorts.
The one thing that struck me this morning, was how satisfying the novel’s end felt – this time. Back in 2004, I felt lost in all the “magic” that took place towards the end, and missed the “comedy” that rolled off the pages in the earlier sections. Was it that “seeing” the characters come to life (via BBC), I could now envision them and cared more about them? I do recall reading the last few hundred pages over a l-o-n-g train journey (more than 8 hours), between Vermont and Maryland. It IS a lot of “magic” to take in all in one sitting. Yet the book’s narrative is so compelling! A true “page-turner”. But I also think a lot has happened to me – as a reader; as someone interested in the Regency period; as someone working on her own decade-long project. And there’s that subtle connection to Jane Austen’s novels (here, one needs to refer to the book and not the mini-series for Mr Lascelles’ back-story).
So when the last page turned, and the cover closed – I was satisfied with the image I (as reader) left with.
As an addendum, I invite you to read Jo Walton’s post, as it wonders some “whys” about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Den of Geek’s review (spoilers!!) of the last episode and an overall reception to the mini-series, both by Louisa Mellor. And view artist Redreh’s envisionings of the characters. I, for one, can’t wait for August and the US release of the series on DVD. Hope they PACK it with “behind the scenes” info and extras!! Strong adaptation of an outstanding novel.