4 July 2007

The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, by Susanna Clarke and illustrated beautifully by Charles Vess is a wonderful collection of Fairy Tales, of which some are re-tellings of traditional stories, and some of which are original, usually concerning the deceptions that fairies practice on the humans around them.

They are all set in 19th Century England, and the author brings off the voice of novels from that period rather better than a lot of imitators manage. Charles Vess' pen and ink drawings help set the tone beautifully.

Collections of short stories are often difficult to read, because although they are short, and time can be found to read them, shifting mental gears between them is somewhat tiresome. However, in this collection, despite the change in characters, the English setting and period tone keeps the whole in one, comfortable, enchanting frame, like chapters of a novel that keeps one wishing to read the next and the next.

The last story, concerning a charcoal burner and a fairy king, is highly amusing, and would make a wonderful, fully illustrated children's book on its own.

The imagination behind the stories is wonderful.
Highly recommended.

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