"Vivid and amusing...Magically funny."-Ursula K. LeGuin, Los Angeles Times
An enchanting collection of stories, set in the same world, from the author of the award-winning, internationally bestselling Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
Following the international bestseller Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke returns with an enchanting collection of stories brimming with all the ingredients of good fairy tales: petulant princesses, vengeful owls, ladies who pass their time in embroidering terrible fates, endless paths in deep, dark woods, and houses that never appear the same way twice. The heroines and heroes who must grapple with these problems include the Duke of Wellington, a conceited Regency clergyman, an eighteenth-century Jewish doctor, and Mary Queen of Scots, as well as two characters from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell; Strange himself and the Raven King.
The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories introduces readers to a world where charm is always tempered by eerieness, and picaresque comedy is always darkened by the disturbing shadow of Faerie.
Like Clarke's first novel, the bestselling Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, these eight stories (seven previously published) are set in an England where magic is a serious but sometimes neglected field of study. The first story sees the erudite Strange tangling with country witches. Others show Austenesque concern with love and its outcomes ("Did you not hear me ask you to marry me?"), often involving fairies. In "The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse," the duke visits Faerie, a kingdom located on the other side of the wall in the village of Wall (a location Clarke borrows from Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess), and meets a woman whose needlework affects the future. In the footnoted "Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge...," a "monumental" stone bridge is built in one afternoon. Clarke humorously revisits Rumplestiltzkin in "On Lickerish Hill," in which it is revealed that "Irishmen have tailes neare a quarter of a yard longe." Clarke may have trouble reaching a new audience in short form, as the stories provide less opportunity to get lost in fantastical material, but the author's many fans will be glad to have these stories in one volume. Illus. by Charles Vess not seen by PW.