Books To Film

They Filmed The Book: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Part 2 of 3)

As we continue on in the series we see the action starting to pick up.  Again, there will be spoilers and vagaries ahead so if you haven’t read the book or seen the show, but want to, please be aware.

Now, as Jonathan Strange begins to increase in his knowledge of magic, thanks in part to his own skill, Mr. Norrell, and Mr. Norrell’s books, he is called to serve England in their war against France.  Strange has to work hard to win the trust and admiration of the soldiers and the commanders but soon finds ways to make himself of use to the cause and is welcomed by the men in the fight. During these times, Strange begins to learn a lot about magic, and even dark magic in some cases, to the point where he resurrects dead enemies to extract information from them.  

Meanwhile, Lady Pole is still under the spell of the evil faerie who helped bring her back to life and despite the Lady’s best efforts to tell Jonathan Strange’s wife, Arabella, she’s unable to do so.  Also, Arabella’s friendship with Lady Pole draws the eye of the faerie, known as The Gentleman, and he sets out to collect her like he did Lady Pole, only in this case, he doesn’t intend to keep her “half alive”.

Lady Pole grows desperate in her situation and tries to kill Mr. Norrell but is later put in a rehabilitation center run by two men, one of whom was part of the magical society that Norrell forced to disband at the beginning of the show.

Later on, after growing in his magical abilities and philosophy, Strange decides to leave Norrell and write a book.  While taken by his work, focused entirely on producing a book about magic, Strange fails to notice Arabella is taken by The Gentleman and it appears she has died despite her being taken to his home realm.  During all of this, Norrell thwarts the publication and release of Strange’s book and this causes a deeper rift between the two. That, coupled with the loss of his wife, drives Strange to deeper and more dangerous magic, that leads him the the realm of The Gentleman.

While a lot of the first episodes of the series are building up the plots, here in the latter episodes things become more dangerous and we see not only the conflict between the two magicians come to a head but the faerie begins to show more of his dangerous side and poses a threat to both Strange and Norrell.

Again, the visuals and story in this series are fantastic and, again, while I’d highly recommend the book, the show is a great alternative if you’re not looking for a longer, but highly entertaining read.