The Ladies of Grace Adieu (thoughts)
First off, I lied. I said in my last post that I had completed my Once Upon a Time challenge. Obviously, I forgot about Mr. William Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream is my favorite play of his-I also own the movie version with Kevin Cline. Since my collected Shakespeare work is at home (vs. at college), I’ll have to wait until early June. In the mean time, here’re my thoughts on the last of the books.. (I’ll review Widdershins, which I loved, within the next couple day. Mythago Wood, which I did not love, will probably get a short treatment whenever I can fit it in!)
The Ladies of Grace Adieu is Susanna Clarke’s follow-up to her debut novel Jonothan Strange & Mr. Norrell. This one is a short story collection; Jonathan strange plays a role in the title story, which is fun! The entire world of 1800s England w/ magic is continued from the novel into the short story collection, and several stories reference the Raven King. So, if you’ve read her first novel, you’re on familiar ground. However, it’s certainly not necessary to have read the novel in order to enjoy this collection.
Susanna Clarke is one of those authors whose style is either love or hate. Similar to A.S. Byatt, Clarke creates an entire scholarly body of work around her world: the stories might have footnotes referencing imaginery encyclopedias, or introductions by stuffy old academics. :) I, personally, adore this kind of writing. The short story collection is quite varied in tone: some of the tales are set in 19th century Britain, while others are set in Medieval England. This obviously affects dialogue and pacing. In one of the stories, Clarke writes in dialect, although not so extreme as to detract from the reading experience.
All in all, if you’ve read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and loved it, you’ll love this collection as well. If you haven’t, but you’re a reader who enjoys A.S. Byatt or British classics, you’ll probably love it as well. I’ve realised, after writing about this as well as Fragile Things, that I don’t really know how to go about reviewing short story collections! Oh well-enough said…I just wish that Clarke had about twenty more books published!
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. (7)So Venetia went along Church-lane to Kissingland and, though it would benefit the dignity of the Female Sex in general to report that she now despised and hated Captain Fox, Venetia was not so unnatural. Instead she indulged in many vain sighs and regrets, and tried to derive such consolation as she could from the reflection that it was better to be poor and forgotten in Kissingland, where there were green trees and sweet flowery meadows, than in Manchester where her friend, Mrs. Whitsun, had died in a cold grey room at the top of a dismal lodging house. (68)