I'm now about halfway through Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and beginning to see what some of the critics are grumbling about. It is rather slow. I shall perservere, because I love the writing and I am interested in what's happening. But it bogs down. Just when you think she's getting some momentum, it stops completely. And there's too much. Just too much. It's as if Tolkien had included the appendices, the Silmarillion and all the bits that Christopher Tolkien published later IN The Lord of the Rings. And heaven knows some people, brought up on MTV and the quick fix, complain that Rings is slow, which it's not, really. Strange and Norrell is like a massively self-indulgent director's cut of a book; I have the impression from somewhere that Clarke's original editor died during the project - perhaps her new one didn't have the guts to tell her to snip.
I've just started this (4 chapters in...) and LOVING it. It's so wonderfully written! It's the first book I've read in a long while that really makes me linger over the prose, that makes me truly conscious of style. Hmmm... is that a good thing?? Yes... I think so, like eating a truly wonderful dessert concoction where you are aware of all the rich and delighful ingredients and how subtly they mix together. I keep wanting to read bits out loud. I think it's going to take me about 6 months to read it, because it's long and because it's impossible to read such splendid prose quickly.