Thursday, May 28, 2009

What My Wife Is Reading #4

After a long hiatus, the popular series What My Wife is Reading is back. Updates from the last post: The Unbearable Lightness of Being never had a chance, as my wife took an immediate disliking to Kundera's style and characters. Such is life.
Recently, my wife has been reading academic work, with two conference papers down and a dissertation chapter drafted. However, she did pick up Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It is a great book, a test of will against 900+ pages of 19th magic and darkness. I admit, I had a love-hate relationship with this book. Way back in 2004, my wife bought this for me for Christmas. I started it immediately, and it took the entire rest of my holiday to finish, even with several long nights of reading. I was frustrated by the 19th century pace - Clarke indeed channels Austen, Bronte and Eliot with this book. Also, as is the issue with every introductory novel, she spent a long time introducing the characters and setting. I believe that is the point my wife is at right now in the book - the good parts are just beginning. Yes, they wouldn't be as good without the background material; yes, knowing the dynamic between Strange and Norrell informs all that follows, but it doesn't seem worth it until the very end. I do admit that I had trouble putting it down after a certain point. Hence, the love-hate relationship. I resented the book for making me read so much of it, but the latter half was rewarding enough to admit that it was worth it. I am not sure how my wife feels at this point, but I am sure it is much the same.
I will say this: I have not read anything like it. The book is regularly touted as a Harry Potter for adults, but I feel that it is different enough to avoid such comparisons. I hope my wife likes it. I will let you know.


Spasz said...

Dear Garry,
During long hours of essay writing last weekend, I stumbled across DTABC again. I read this about Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Then I bought it for life awesomeness. Thanks! I'll make a reflective response at the end of the 900 pages.

Garry said...

I hope you like it!