I’m not going to lie to you. I almost didn’t finish it.
It wasn’t because the writing was bad. On the contrary, the writing was fantastic. My problem lies with the rambling of the author. More than once I found myself saying, “Get on with it already.” I think this could be the main drawback to the style in which Susanna Clarke wrote it. The scholarly text, footnotes included, format remains true from beginning to end. That also means that this chronicling of events has no clear ending.
Typically towards the end of a novel the an author will be knocking down all the dominoes she’s carefully laid out in the novel. Little new information is added. Not the case here. Footnotes offering side stories continue throughout. Granted the reader is offered the luxury of skipping them, but I didn’t want to accidentally miss something important. I read them all.
Some might say that Clarke left the book open-ended so as to continue on in the future. I disagree. I don’t think she ever had any intention of stopping. I think she hit her deadline, exclaimed, “Crap!” Then handed in what she had.
Granted there was some resolution. Were they satisfactory?
No. Not all of them.
One conflict was resolved so simplistically, I might have set the book down if I wasn’t so damn close to the end. Some resolutions I wasn’t happy with, not that I have to be, but it would help. The rest doesn’t get resolved. At least not in this volume.
Do I think it’s worth it?
Despite my little rant, I would say yes. The prose is beautiful. The voice is so vivid, I found it creeping into some of my own work. You have to admire a strong voice in writing. The style was different and refreshing (for at least the first half).
I can honestly say I’m glad I read it. However I strongly doubt I will pick up the sequel, which she is currently still writing.