I just finished an absolute monster of a book, and although its not investment-related per se, it is a book that will absolutely turn you inside-out if you let it. The author, Susanna Clarke, spent over 10 years researching and writing the manuscript and the end result is a masterpiece. Time Magazine called it the #1 Book of 2004 and they were by no means exaggerating.
On the surface, “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” is about two rival magicians attempting the restoration of English Magic against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. As there was never any such thing as English Magic, its really more of an alternate history of England, written in the style of both a Gothic novel and a biography. The magic is written about in such a clinically mundane way, and interwoven with actual historical facts so seamlessly, that you almost begin to believe that these events went down exactly as written.
Beneath the surface, the book is about so much more. The major themes here are human nature, the inherent differences that can turn friends into rivals, the nature of madness, the horror and humor of war, the pursuit of book learning at the expense of actual experience, and the lengths that a man will go to in seeking the domination of his profession or field.
Throughout the book, real-life historical figures pop up often, including such interesting characters as King George III and the Duke of Wellington. The scope of the novel is sweeping as well, with major set pieces like Venice, the Iberian Peninsula and even a war-time Brussells, which somehow gets transported to an Indian wilderness in North America!
If you’re ready for a literary and fantastical journey with meticulously researched period details and a dry, British sense of humor on top of it all, read this book.
The link below will take you to “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” on Amazon, and if you should purchase it, I think I get like 11 cents or something: