Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

"Now it was just after midnight and she was sitting in the drawing-room reflecting that all she needed to complete her happiness was her husband home again, when one of the maids burst in and cried out, "Oh, madam! The master is here!"
Someone came into the room.
He was a thinner, browner person than she remembered. His hair had more grey in it and there was a whitish scar above his left eyebrow. The scar was not recent, but she had never seen it before. His features were what they had always been, but somehow his air was different. This scarcely seemed to be the person she had been thinking of only a moment ago. But before she could be disappointed, or awkward, or any of the things she had feared she would be when he at last came home, he looked around the room with a quick, half-ironic glance that she knew in an instant. Then he looked at her with the most familiar smile in the world and said, "I'm home."

The next morning they still had not said a hundredth part of all they had to tell each other."

I wonder if Susanna Clarke ever had someone come home from war in reality. It sounds like that moment that I had after boot camp that I bet I'll experience again at homecoming, the moment of assessment and the relief of "Oh yes, he's still my Andrew." I didn't expect to stumble across something so familiar in this comedic English fantasy novel, but I suppose that's the mark of good fantasy. The environment, time, magic, etc are sometimes outrageous but the motivations, emotions and bits of human nature are very real.

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