Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Ladies of Grace Adieu

by Susanna Clarke

Some time ago I read Susanna Clarke's gargantuan fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and found it quite enjoyable although I feel that, as capable a writer as Clarke is, the conceit of a comically prim fantasy had worn out much of its humour by the end of nine hundred pages. The Ladies of Grace Adieu is a collection of eight short stories from the same setting as Jonathan Strange and again while they are well written I can't help but feel that this collection is just the same old trick being trotted out for a victory lap on the coattails of the substantial commercial success of the novel.

Nevertheless if more of the same is what one is after then The Ladies of Grace Adieu will not disappoint. The first few stories are a bit lackluster and tend to run a bit long but the second half of the book improves greatly in terms of wit and although the stories still lacked for brevity they were a breeze to read. It's an enjoyable book but a little unnecessary if you've already read Jonathan Strange.

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