Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
This one is kind of a personal dream of mine. The debut novel of British author Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell spent some time on the New York Times bestseller list when it was released in 2004 and won a slew of awards in 2005, among them the Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Oh, and it was named the Best Novel of the year by Time Magazine, so there’s that. Shortly after its release the book was optioned by New Line Cinema, and though the first draft of a script was finished back in 2005, a movie version of Clarke’s splendid Harry Potter-meets-Jane Austen fantasy tale is no closer to being finished (or started, really). It’s not surprising. Jonathan Strange would make a horrible movie. A 1000+ pages fantasy novel/period piece, it spans decades in the lives of its two main characters, an up-and-coming magician and his curmudgeonly mentor, one of whom goes off and fights in the Napoleonic Wars as the Duke of Wellington’s right-hand magician. There’s just no way to squeeze everything into a two-hour movie... and I know that gets said a lot about adaptations, but that makes it no less true in this case. There’s the Battle of Waterloo, and it’s not even the climax of the book, for Pete’s sake. That said, Jonathan Strange would make a perfect BBC miniseries. Perfect. Four episodes (hell, make it six or seven, give us a whole season) would be sufficient time to flesh out the characters and their relationships, whereas a movie would probably end up having to jump from set piece to set piece just to squeeze everything in (*cough*HarryPotterandtheHalfBloodPrince*cough*). Fantasy TV is popular right now (see: Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time) and British period dramas, though never really unpopular, have gained more visibility as of late due to Downton Abbey. The time is right for this, and I just want it to happen so I can start thinking in earnest about whom they should cast as the gentleman with the thistle-down hair... and the Raven King... and Jonathan Strange... and the Duke of Wellington... and, well, everybody. I just really love this book.