The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories is a ravishing collection of eight short stories full of charm, magic and wit. These fascinating stories are set in the same England as Susanna Clarke’s bestselling novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and the talented author skillfully portrays once again a nineteenth century England where faeries live among humans and where magic is present everywhere. In these spellbinding stories, Susanna Clarke explores the relationship between humans and faeries, showing the reader how the presence of faeries influences humans in different ways.

Here’s more about the eight stories:

The Ladies of Grace Adieu tells the story of three ladies who live in Grace Adieu and who deal with Jonathan Strange and his brother-in-law in their own way, using their magical powers to achieve what they want.

On Lickerish Hill is narrated in Suffolk dialect and is a wonderful retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin story where a young wife seeks the help of a faerie creature so she can fulfill her husband’s demands.

Mrs Mabb deals with a young woman whose financé has been enchanted by the Faerie Queen. The young woman is determined to find her finacé who is being held prisoner in Mrs Mabb’s house, but there are many obstacles standing in her way.

The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and it’s one of my favorite stories. It is set in a village called Wall, which happens to be situated near the wall that separates the human world from Faerie. This funny story shows the reader how the Duke of Wellington accidentally enters the world of Faerie, nearly not surviving his visit.

Mr Simonelli or the Fairy Widower is a story about a clergyman who finds out that he is related to a powerful fairy lord. In order to rescue the community from his fairy cousin, the clergyman has to match his fairy wits against his relation.

Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby gives an account of the adventures of Tom (the fairy prince) and David (the Jewish doctor). This story particularly explores the relationship between humans and faeries.

Antickes and Frets is one of my favorite stories as it deals with the vengeful Mary, Queen of Scots, who tries to harm Queen Elizabeth by using magical embroidery.

John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner tells the story of John Uskglass (also known as the Raven King) who is harassed by a charcoal burner. This simple man seeks revenge against the Raven King by calling upon various saints.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories has all the right ingredients of great fairy tales – vengeful owls, dark woods, houses that never appear the same way twice and ladies who embroider terrible destinies. Our heroes and heroines have to overcome many obstacles and they have to be careful, as Faerie is a dangerous and wild place!

This wonderful collection is packed with vivid character portraits, wit and intelligence. In addition to that, the author’s original and beautiful writing style will enchant readers and will make them long for more. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories is certainly a remarkable collection of stories that will sweep you away and astound you. Be prepared to be taken on an unforgettable journey into the magical world of faeries where nothing is quite as it seems.

What I really liked about these stories was the fact that Susanna Clarke has managed to capture so many different relationships – the relationship between sisters, parents, friends, but also the relationship between humans and faeries. The characters are very charming and you can’t help but feel sympathetic to them. But what is probably the most attractive thing when it comes to this collection of stories is the author’s writing style. It’s so unique and masterful and it will remind you of Jane Austen’s prose as both are highly formal and witty. Furthermore, Susanna Clarke offers the reader a number of different viewpoints, thus, achieving a various number of effects that will most certainly appeal to readers who appreciate an eminent storytelling.  

Nonetheless, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories will not appeal to everyone, as not everyone will delight in this sort of genre. However, this collection of magical stories will certainly make Neil Gaiman fans and fantasy lovers happy, as they will adore Susanna Clarke’s distinctive and bewitching voice! As for my part, I must say that I just loved The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories and I can’t wait to read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in the near future. Susanna Clarke is now one of my favorite authors and I am looking forward to reading more works by this marvelous author! I have never read anything like this before and I think that’s why I found The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories so special and captivating!

If you want to find out more about Susanna Clarke and her work, please visit her website here. The site has many features, including a section where you can read the short story The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse (which I mentioned above). Click here if you want to read it and if you want to acquaint yourself with Susanna Clarke’s brilliant writing style.

Have you read Susanna Clarke’s bestselling novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell? If so, did you like it? Also, what is your favorite fantasy novel?

Note: I would like to thank Peter Miller from Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me a copy of this engaging collection!


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bermudaonion
    Apr 18, 2010 @ 13:15:00

    I don’t read many short stories, but it is a genre I’d like to explore more, so I’ll keep this book in mind.


  2. diane
    Apr 19, 2010 @ 01:25:56

    I don’t read a lot of short stories either, but this really does sound like a nice collection, Andreea. BTW…I noticed your post about Tomorrow River and that is one book I would like to read as well.


  3. Alice Teh
    Apr 19, 2010 @ 02:28:46

    Sounds like an amazing read, Andreea. Like Diane and Kathy, I don’t read a lot of short stories either. But when I do want to read a book like that, I’d know what to look for. Thanks for the review!


  4. Lua
    Apr 19, 2010 @ 05:12:59

    All stories sound great but I’m especially intrigued by “Antickes and Frets”- two queens and some magic, sounds really interesting 🙂


  5. Nymeth
    Apr 19, 2010 @ 07:03:33

    This is one of my favourite short story collections 😀 So glad you loved it too!


  6. vivienne
    Apr 19, 2010 @ 13:04:49

    I have Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel sitting in my book collection upstairs. I am kind of put off by the size of it at the moment, need to will up some enthusiasm for it.


  7. Aarti
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 03:34:49

    I haven’t read this one, though I really enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Like this one, though, I think that book appeals to a very particular group of people. On another note, I really love the cover on this book! It’s so pretty. I think when JS&MN first came out, there were rumors of a sequel, but I don’t know if there really is one coming. I hope so, and that it features more Arabella. I hope you like her 🙂


  8. Kathleen
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 03:38:37

    I never read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel but it is definitely on my list. This collection of short stories sounds really good too!


  9. Helen (She Reads Novels)
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 14:48:04

    I read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell a few years ago and enjoyed it – I loved the way the author combined history and fantasy. I think I would probably like this book too.


  10. iliana
    Apr 22, 2010 @ 23:24:49

    Haven’t read JSaMN but would like to. I think the size of that tome is putting me off though 🙂

    Really enjoyed your review of this one and it sounds good but as I don’t read a lot of fantasy I think it’s one I would definitely have to be in the right mood to enjoy.


  11. Jo
    May 11, 2010 @ 00:06:59

    I loved this! I liked the novel aswell, but I think these stories are better. I have just read your story summaries and tried to think which was my favourite, but I remember them all with fond memories.


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