Friday, 10 July 2015

Grey Doll Turns From A Life of Crime...To Magic: Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell

I loved the BBC TV serial adaptation of the novel "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" by Susanna Clarke which ended last month. The story is a blend of alternate English history and fantasy with perhaps... an element of satire. The production is a terrific blend of script, performances, visual effects, sets and props... which re-creates the book's world beautifully. And I find this a great relief..... because I am a little tired of visuals produced by over-clocking the CGI in a production so that everyone and everything, including the light, appear to have been been fed through a single smoothing filter.

Not so with this one. So...every hat I own is taken off to director Toby Haynes and adapter Peter Harness. Eddie Marsan's "Mr Norrell" is pitch perfect - all timorous distrust, dull wig and little pot belly. Berti Carvel's "Jonathan Strange" is as dashing and Byronic as you could want. (The whole thing seems to take a nod at the distinctions and conflict between the Augustan Alexander Pope's "Norrell" versus the Romantic Lord Byron's "Jonathan Strange" I think). Most of the performances were really strong so I would if I could not stop here with me glowing praise but......

Anyway, I love it all so much that I have downloaded the hours and hours of the spoken word version of the book from Audible and am plunging into its world of Georgian England alternate history and the battle between Theoretical Magicians and Practical Magicians all over again. A wonderful book, wonderfully written... and a long-time in writing (am I surprised?).

Note: Whilst researching Susanna Clarke, I see that she is the partner of (perhaps under-estimated) British sci-fi writer Colin Greenland, quite a few of whose books sit on my shelf from my sci-fi-reader phase. Well. There you go.

No comments: