I’m midway through Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: I picked it up yesterday, it’s nearly 800 pages long, and already I’m half-way through it. My question is, WHY WAS I NOT INFORMED OF THIS BOOK EARLIER? It’s genius, probably the most original work I’ve read in a long time: it reads like a note-perfect blend of T. H. White, Thackeray, Jane Austen, Philip Pullman and Bernard Cornwell - and it’s so damn funny:
“Let us examine the case of rings. Rings have long been considered particularly suitable for this sort of magic by virtue of their small size. A man may keep a ring continually upon his finger for years, without exciting the smallest comment - which would not be the case if he shewed the same attachment to a book or a pebble - and yet there is scarcely a magician in history who, having once committed some of his skill and power to a magic ring, did not somehow lose that ring and was put to a world of trouble to get it back again.”
And that’s Tolkien drily and coolly eviscerated in a single paragraph, followed by two pages of tongue-in-cheek footnotes detailing an imaginary fairy tale in which a magician loses his magic ring in ludicrous circumstances and the troubles that ensue in recovering it. I can’t wait to finish reading this book so I can start it all over again.
So my question is, what works - books, movies, TV, comics - do you only wish that you’d latched onto much earlier?