Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, Art by Sidharth Chaturvedi

There is nothing in the world so easy to explain as failure – it is, after all, what everybody does all the time.

If HBO hasn’t already won over the Fantasy crowd with its award-winning adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, True Blood, based on Charlaine Harris’ popular Sookie Stackhouse series, and upcoming adaptation of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, they’re looking at some potential competition from the BBC, which recently announced the acquisition of Susanna Clarke’s beautiful, bloated and baroque Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

Of the acquisition, the BBC says:

[The series is] based on the bestselling novel by Susanna Clarke and adapted by Peter Harness. Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell is set during the Napoleonic Wars in an England where magic once existed and is about to return.

Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell is produced by Cuba, the production arm of leading literary and talent agency Curtis Brown in association with Feel Film and Farmoor.

Toby Haynes directs, Nick Hirschkorn will produce with Nick Marston, Justin Thomson-Glover and Patrick Irwin are executive producing. Matthew Read is the Executive Producer for the BBC.

Cuba is also the production company behind BAFTA-winning Boy A and critically acclaimed Broken.

So, not much, beside a bunch of names which most non-British fans probably won’t recognize, but it appears to be a project worth keeping an eye on. I attempted to reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell several years ago, when it was first released, and found it bland and almost impenetrable and didn’t finish it; but it’s always been on my bucket list, as my tastes have evolved significantly since then and I expect I could better appreciate Clarke’s work nowadays. This television series might be just the kick in the pants I’m looking for.

  • Dave Thompson December 5, 2012 at 7:25 am

    I’d be really interested to hear what you think of it if you reread it.

    I read it when it came out and fell in love with it, and am considering listening to it at some point in the not-too-distant future, to see if it still has it’s charm.

  • Ginna December 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    This is my favorite novel of all time!! It does take some patience, but there are all kinds of gems hidden in there. It really is a powerful book. I am thrilled to pieces that it will be presented on the screen.

  • Lauren December 6, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    The book was utterly fantastic (IMO) so this is very exciting news for me!!

  • Thomas Swift December 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Possibly my favourite book that I’ve read this year…
    Long, bloated, over-complicated, yes to all of them, but NEVER bland….
    Hopefully it’s long, winding, many connected plots will be a good fit for a TV serial and ‘yes’ as a British viewer I do recognize some of those names.