Friday, 14 May 2010

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke

GENRE: short stories/fantasy

Faerie is never as far away as you think. Sometimes you find you have crossed an invisible line and must cope, as best you can, with petulant princesses, vengeful owls, ladies who pass their time embroidering terrible fates or with endless paths in deep, dark woods and houses that never appear the same way twice. The heroines and heroes bedevilled by such problems in these fairy tales include a conceited Regency clergyman, an eighteenth-century Jewish doctor and Mary, Queen of Scots, as well as two characters from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: Strange himself and the Raven King.

I learned about this collection of short stories from my Recommendations page on my Amazon account. I really liked the title of the book, the summary and the cover is not bad. I bought it on a whim and was not disappointed with my purchase.

This book contains short stories, or rather fairy-tales that are very English in nature. One reviewer was right: this collection truly is like an unholy alliance between Jane Austen and Angela Carter. The author uses the Regency lingo with great skill, and really weaves magic with words. The stories are very entertaining and witty, quite surprising and sometimes even a bit macabre. The basic idea is that magic still exists in the time of Regency England. I recognized some English and Scottish legends, and even some Grimm fairy-tales that are really cleverly included into the plots. The author based her stories on some of them, but made them her own, which is what I really like. You can read about Mary Queen of Scots. One of the stories is even set in the world from Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. The collection also features more serious moments, like the subject of a woman not having enough freedom, whether she be a Regency lady or a magical woman.

All in all, this collection was a very pleasurable read, often whimsical and always intriguing. If you like short stories and a bit of magic, I definitely recommend this collection to you.


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