Ever since I read Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell just after it came out, I’ve wondered when someone was going to do a movie or miniseries adaptation. Well, BBC has stepped up with a seven-part series that debuts on BBC One in May and on BBC America “this summer”. Here’s a trailer:
Set at the beginning of the 19th-century, England no longer believes in practical magic. The reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey stuns the city of York when he causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. With a little persuasion and help from his man of business Childermass, he goes to London to help the government in the war against Napoleon. It is there Norrell summons a fairy to bring Lady Pole back from the dead, opening a whole can of worms…
That trailer was a little too trailery for my taste (if you know what I mean), but I’m excited nonetheless. (via ★interesting)
Update: BBC America has put the first episode of the show up on YouTube:
The rest of the episodes are available in a slightly less official capacity as well — here’s episode 2 for instance.
The BBC is making a 6-part miniseries out of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
For those unfamiliar with the book, it’s a sweeping fantasy novel set during the Napoleonic Wars where two magicians have emerged in Britain. As well as telling the story of their rivalry, it also details an amazing alternate history where the North of England was the dominion of a magical overlord known as the Raven King, and pulls in many notable historical characters.
Can’t wait…I loved JS&MN.
January was a rough month for me and I needed a break from all the “heavy” nonfiction I usually read, so I picked up Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a well-received fantasy novel. I’m normally not much of a fantasy reader, but I was in the mood for something fanciful and besides, JS&MN isn’t really fantasy. It contains fantastic things like magicians, Raven Kings, and faeries but belongs more to the 19th century British novel genre…more Jane Austen than JRR Tolkien. (Clarke lists Austen as her favorite author on the book’s site.)
And it’s just plain good, whatever the genre. The simple bold cover drew me in (it looks like the font used is a close cousin to Caslon Antique), but the plot kept me in “I can’t put it down” mode until I had finished. A surprise was how clever and funny Clarke’s writing was…I found myself laughing out loud several times at the book’s cutting deadpan wit. The book weighs in at ~780 pages, but my only disappointment upon finishing was that the story was over…I felt like I’d just gotten to know the characters and wanted to follow them on all sorts of adventures. Luckily, Clarke is working on a sequel of sorts, according to the book’s web site:
The next book will be set in the same world and will probably start a few years after Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell finishes. I feel very much at home in the early nineteenth century and am not inclined to leave it. I doubt that the new book will be a sequel in the strictest sense. There are new characters to be introduced, though probably some old friends will appear too. I’d like to move down the social scale a bit. Strange and Norrell were both rich, with pots of money and big estates. Some of the characters in the second book have to struggle a bit harder to keep body and soul together. I expect there’ll be more about John Uskglass, the Raven King, and about how magic develops in England.
The first chapter is online if you’d like to read it and Metacritic has several reviews.
P.S. For fun, here are Amazon’s Statistically Improbable Phrases for this book: new manservant, madhouse attendants, fairy roads, practical magician.