“Above all remember this: that magic belongs as much to the heart as to the head and everything which is done, should be done from love or joy or righteous anger.”
I was in love with this book from the first line. The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke is a collection of fairy tales. The title story returns to the world of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a book I have gushed about in a couple of other blog entries. I see a lot of reviewers comparing Clarke’s style to Jane Austin, and I think that is accurate. If you like classic sounding English literature sprinkled with magic, these are the books for you.
Now, I must admit, I am a bit of an Anglophile. I have been enjoying English books since my days of Paddington Bear. Just before I started writing this, I watched an episode of Escape to the Country– a show where people look for homes in the English countryside. And when I recently discovered that the English think Americans are barbaric for microwaving water for tea, I decided to get an electric kettle.
The Ladies of Grace Adieu is very English. The introduction claims this book to be a collection of tales selected to educate readers about the history of magic and fairies in the British Isles, as brought to you by a Professor James Sutherland, Director of Sidhe Studies at the University of Aberdeen. This is very in keeping the spirit of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
Clarke maintains a similar style and humor throughout this collection as well. My favorites include the title story, which teaches the lesson that lady magicians are not to be trifled with, and “Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy Widower,” a tale told by a man discovering his father was not Italian but was, in fact, a fairy. As an added bonus, Neil Gaiman fans (like myself) will enjoy a story set in the town of Wall, from Stardust.
I also enjoyed reading about the Raven King, a magician who figures heavily into Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. It would be fun if Clarke were to do a collection of stories just about the Raven King as a companion piece.
I hope, most dearly, that Clarke publishes another book. This collection of tales will have to get me through until then, and I am glad that I have them.