If she is pretty, she is never lonely because she is wanted and loved. This much is truth, no? Beauty works a miracle in the eyes of a dull man without imagination and of a cruel man without tears. Oscar Wilde, who always had something to say about beauty, affirmed that it’s better to be beautiful than to be good because beauty captures your attention. So, if you are bereft of beauty, then you must work very hard to get people to know who you are. Beauty is indeed a joy for all seasons, rain or shine, and is also a privilege to be loved first before loving.
Judy always must be in love with someone who didn’t even know of her existence because the feeling of love would transform her from a plain Jane to a sultry Cleopatra as if a pixie had cast a glamour spell on her, pitying her denied sense of pleasure and detachment from a constellation of lovers. Judy, despite some flattering feedback on her appearance from onlookers, was always discontent with what she saw in the mirror that seemed to reflect her what she didn’t want or couldn’t see in her true self. She felt that her features were in want of spectacular beauty that would make herself loved, and her solitary disposition dipped in an exclusive flavor of selectiveness doubled the inaccessibility of the worldly sensuousness that even not so pretty or homely women were allowed as their feminine rights.
Judy was sitting like a pillar of melancholy at the dinner table embarrassed by the ordinariness of her appearance in the presence of handsome Fred who made Judy feel like an awkward wallflower that nobody would pay attention to. You would say she obviously lacked self-confidence, but self-confidence is also built upon the kind of feedback you get from others. Judy was a firm believer of existentialism which says that experience exceeds essence and of Robert Cooley’s sociological theory of “Looking Glassed Self” that you become the way how others treat you. Or you might say what she lacked in appearance could be compensated by her intelligence, wits, or those other “inner” qualities, all of which she did possess. But let’s be honest, my dear readers. Beauty is the power and the wisdom of women regardless of leaps of times, distances of places, and differences of races. Any man- rich or poor, bigoted or liberal, young or old- loves a pretty woman and will act on his best behavior with kindness. Likewise, Judy, who was not drop-dead gorgeous, always kept herself guarded with a stern look at the sight of a man who might be unkind or curt. However, Fred was different. He was being very affable to her with a genuine smile. This time Judy wanted to claim her right of happiness and make her existence visible to her figure of love, so she secretly wished for a glamour spell to change herself from an insignificant wallflower to a beautiful rose that would make Fred crazy about her.
Magic and fairies are not the proprietary subjects of teenage novels or esoteric pagan reference books that are exclusive to a select few. They were part of a belief system kept by your distant and not-so-distant ancestors, learned or unlearned, which was a fountain of their norms and mores and acculturated even into a Christian organized religion. So much so that the world of supernatural was thus believed to be hidden in this world of terrestrial, enveloping the outer circle of the earth with a gossamer of ethereal air, thinning the boundary of corporeal and incorporeal. This system of belief has survived particularly in the British Isles, where Celtic mysticism has produced its fairy progenies and dispersed them beyond the watery boundaries of the Isles. Out of such British fairy progenies comes this wonderfully imaginative Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel by Susanna Clarke whose mission is to prove the world that there are more things in earth and heaven than are dreamt of in your rational impulse.
The story is a fascinating hybrid of history, adventure, and fantasy all entertainingly interwoven in the magical tapestry of literature. It’s also a great house of imaginativeness built upon Clarke’s erudition of the subjects ranging from the rise and decline of English magicians to the changing social customs and values, all the marks upon her mastery of storytelling that will make you steeped in the pages after pages as if you were enchanted by her alchemy of words. Her characters are extraordinary, but their personalities are not far from the ordinary, which endows a sense of verisimilitude upon the story and leads you to a seemingly obvious path to the maze of her fascinating tale. It is Clarke’s own magic that creates this wondrous make-believe world of magicians and fairies who are indeed very much alive in her mind’s theater to which she invites you to join her in the bewitching festival via witchcraft of literature.
Her vivacious creativity doubled with her alchemy of words accounts for a thick volume of the handy little book, which is also extraordinary for a customary semblance of a paperback. This also shows Clarke’s ability to record supernatural events and things in the ordinary subjects with her dazzling narrative skills and ingenious composition of plots seamlessly connected to one another that would have been an infelicity of redundant multiplication of stories as a result of insufficient creative ammunition. Which is to say that this book will take you from the rut of your ordinary reality to the world beyond where you can summon a fairy to your service and make a wish, especially at this epochal moment of time when you need something delightful to read.