One of the most acclaimed fantasy novels of the last decade is finally coming to the screen next year.
Susanna Clarke took fantasy literature by storm in 2004 with the publication of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, a sweeping alternate-history novel that examined the lives of two magicians -- often at odds with one another -- living in England during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. The novel immediately captivated readers, not just because of its characters and its approach to magic, but also because of its exploration of English history, culture and literary tropes. The book was named the best novel of the year by Time Magazine, and it earned a Hugo Award, a World Fantasy Award and a Locus Award, among others.
Naturally, the novel's success made it ripe for Hollywood adaptation, and New Line Cinema quickly snatched up the rights. Their plans to adapt the book fell through, though, when New Line collapsed and was subsequently folded into Warner Bros. Pictures. Fans of the book waited years for a new glimmer of hope on the film front, and finally got it in 2012 when BBC One opted to adapt the novel into a television series.
Now, that series is finally on the way, and the BBC has released the above first image of Bertie Carvel as Jonathan Strange and Eddie Marsan as Mr. Norrell, along with this plot summary.
"Set at the beginning of the 19th-century, England no longer believes in practical magic. The reclusive Mr Norrell (Marsan) of Hurtfew Abbey stuns the city of York when he causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. With a little persuasion and help from his man of business Childermass (Enzo Cilenti), he goes to London to help the government in the war against Napoleon. It is there Norrell summons a fairy (Marc Warren) to bring Lady Pole (Alice Englert) back from the dead, opening a whole can of worms…"
The seven-part series, written by Peter Harness (Wallander), will arrive on BBC America next year, marking the end of more than a decade of trying to get Clarke's book on screen. Will you be watching?
(Via The Mary Sue)