BooksOfTheMoon

Piranesi

By Susanna Clarke

Rating: 4 stars

The Beauty of the House is immesurable; its Kindness infinite. So believes Piranesi, who lives in the House – a vast labyrinth of Halls, with innumerable statues in the endless halls and the ocean in the basement. He lives here alone, except for The Other, and and always has, or so he believes. He lives a contented life, until the messages start to appear – there is someone new in the House, and this sets up a chain of events that leads to hidden truths being uncovered and relationships changed forever.

This is a slim volume, but it took me a while to get into it. The world of the House is dense and Clarke does throw you into the middle of it. The novel takes the form of journal entries of the narrator (the Other calls him Piranesi, but he’s not sure that that’s his name). The random capitalisation that the narrator throws in doesn’t help either. It takes a while to get into the flow of it.

But once you do find the rhythm of the book, it’s a joy to read. It’s lyrical, haunting and beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed following the narrator on his personal journey of discovery of both himself, and the world around him. I can imagine that it’s a book that rewards rereading, and I’m definitely going to give it another go before too long.

Clarke certainly isn’t prolific, but a new novel from her is an event that’s worth the wait.

Book details

ISBN: 9781526622433
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Year of publication: 2021

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories

By Susanna Clarke

Rating: 4 stars

This is a collection of short stories about magic, set in the same universe as Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell. The stories are all enjoyable, and mostly structured like traditional fairy stories, inclusive of the sense of the sinister that fairy stories traditional were very good at. The title story brought this out particularly well.

One for established Clarke fans and people wanted a way into her work without starting with the 1000+ page Jonathan Strange.

Book details

ISBN: 9781596912519
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Year of publication: 2004

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

By Susanna Clarke

Rating: 5 stars

I loved this book. Yes, it’s big, but I found it very easy to read, despite the mock-19th century style. The story is set in the early 19th century in an alternative history where magic has been common in England, although it has now faded and all that remains are “theoretical” magicians, who are more historians of magic than practitioners. Into this world come Mr Norrell, the first “practical” magician in over 300 years, and his pupil Jonathan Strange.

I loved the pacing of the story, the way that strands were started and slowly came together as the story moved on and the sense of history that there was (and I found that the footnotes really helped in this regard).

If I had read this book this time in time, I would certainly have voted for it in the Hugo awards.

Book details

ISBN: 9780747579885
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Year of publication: 2004

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