JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL
I've been reading my way into this book. A strange book indeed. It is mostly without a plot, in the sense of a story that develops along structured lines. It has instead many things that happen sequentially. It is impossible to say where the narrative is taking you.
The book is something of a bestseller (#34 on Amazon) in spite of its style, which you would think would put the mainstream reader off. Ms. Clarke by and large avoids the interior monolog, at least for the first few hundred pages. So we have a lot of what we see and hear, but little of what people think.
What the book has is a great verisimilitude. Ms. Clarke writes out of essentially an alternative history of England in which the North was ruled for some time by the Raven King, a magician. Her eponymous heroes successful revive English magic during the Napoleonic wars, with the help of some capricious fae.
I am not at all sure that it is, as Neil Gaiman has it, the best work of English fantasy in 70 years. (Does that mean he thinks it is better than Lord of the Rings
but not as good as The Hobbit
?) But it is something else altogether, and that makes it a cheery read of a winter's day.