Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke
Bloomsbury, 2006
235 pages
Short stories; fairy tale
4.5/5 stars

Source: Library

Summary: A collection of short stories with magical elements and fairy tale aspects.

Thoughts: I put this on my list after reading Irena's review at This Miss Loves to Read and after remembering how much I enjoyed reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (pre-blog with delightful footnotes!) I found the writing lovely, at some points reminiscent of Jane Austen (high praise from me!)  I enjoyed the variety of style, tone, theme, and length in the stories. Now for a closer but brief look at each.

The  Ladies of Grace Adieu: Set in the universe of Jonathan Strange and apparently referenced in the book itself; this is about ladies using magic which was frowned on by Mr Norrell. I liked the ladies but not fantastic. 4/5

On Lickerish Hill: Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with archaic spelling that made it difficult to read thus only 3.5/5

Mrs Mabb: A lady returns from nursing her friend to find that her beloved has fallen under the sway of Mrs. Mabb.  She attempts to fight for him, despite the magical confusion around.  I really felt for Venetia as she bravely fought for Captain Fox who she was certain had not abandoned her.  4.5/5

The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse: Very short, set in the same world as Stardust. The Duke of Wellington plays with the thread of time and fate. 4/5

Mr Simonelli or The Fairy Widower: Mr Simonelli is the new rector who ends up matching wits with a fairy lord and ensnaring himself in romantic entanglements; told through his journal entries, a format I really love. 5/5

Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby: A Jew and a fairy king travel to Lincoln and end up constructing a bridge. 4.5/5

Antickes and Frets: This is about Mary, Queen of Scots and her imprisonment by Elizabeth I.  While she attempted to leave, she couldn't and used embroidery as a coping mechanism. 4/5

John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner: Possibly my favorite. A charcoal burner lives in isolation and gets revenge on Fairy King John Uskglass multiple times; quite funny and very quick. 5/5

Overall: Very enjoyable even without having read Jonathan Strange (I can barely remember anything about it) and highly recommended!


  1. Oh, I'm glad my review convinced you to read this collection and I'm even more glad that you liked it! This really is a lovely collection. I personally believe that it's a bit of a treat for those who likes magical elements and fairy-tales. I liked Mrs Mabb best.

  2. I have such a tendency towards fairy-tale like short stories, plus I've heard wonderful things about Susanna Clarke. Also: story about Mary, Queen of Scots? That I must read.


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