Saturday, 22 December 2007

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke. Illustrated by Charles Vess.

gracea.jpgPublished by Bloomsbury Publishing
Distributed by Raincoast Books

The author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell offers an enchanting little volume of eight stories that will delight the reader, especially those with a fondness for fairy tales. The vibrant characters contained within the pages include none other than Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and an untold number of fresh yet familiar faces in the forms of Mary Queen of Scots, the Raven King, and the Duke of Wellington. Each is placed in an exquisitely detailed surrounding as the author uses her magic to weave unforgettable tales.

I fell in love with this book as soon as I picked it up. The cover is simple yet almost entrancing and I loved the way my fingers could linger over the cloth and the imprinted delicate pink flowers. The illustrations of Charles Vess are also a favourite with me, especially one in which we get a glimpse of the Raven King strolling through the woodland, with ravens soaring overhead and a large dog by each side. As gifted as the author is for defining her characters, these black and white illustrations are a stunning aid to the imagination.

As for the stories, where do I even begin? This is one of those books that make it impossible to explain exactly what you loved best about it. I gave some thought to the subject of my favourite tale and I have to say I couldn’t choose. I loved them all. A couple even stirred up childhood memories. I couldn’t read the story of Mrs Mabb without being reminded of the Alf Proysen character Mrs. Pepperpot and I hadn’t thought of those books in forever. I am not going to say much about the plots even though I usually do. I think it would take away from your own experience as you discover this fantastic book.

I have a fondness for books that stir the imagination and this is certainly one of those. It is one of those magical books that on reading will make you feel just a little younger and a little lighter in the heart. I loved fairy tales as a child and now thanks to Susanna Clarke and other authors like her, I get to love them again as an adult.

This one makes it into my favourites shelf and I will be hunting down a copy of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell also as the title story 'The Ladies of Grace Adieu' has piqued my interest in it.

Author's website: http://www.jonathanstrange.com/

4 comments:

Ellen said...

This sounds like a lovely book, I'm going to get a copy. Thanks for your very comprehensive critiques of your favorite reads; your blog is one of the best I've found for book recommendations and analyses.

Charlene Martel said...

Thank you so much Ellen. I am sorry I haven't been updating lately but things got crazy after the holidays (and during of course) but look for a few new reviews in the coming days.

There are some really excellent books I am going to be recommending.

Thank you so much for the compliments about the blog. It means a lot :)

trish said...

This sounds great! I've put it on my Bookmooch list, and I'll be passing it on to a friend after I've read it. :-)

Dan said...

Hi Charlene - Thanks for the review. You should definitely check out Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - It's fabulous (and I'm not just saying that!)...