We have always been big fans of fantasy and science fiction books, but great works are few and far between. So we were quite excited when we heard about Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell a little while ago. It had been critically acclaimed and though some dogs might have been daunted by its >1,000 pages; we dug into the challenge with a big bowl of water and a rawhide to sustain us. Mostly we read it while our parents were in Peru, without regular access to the internet we grew bored easily and got a lot of book-reading/tv-watching/remote-chewing done while we stayed with our cousin Echo.
The book is set in Napoleonic-era England and begins with a group of theoretical magicians; men that study magic but don't practice it because of its vulagarity, and because frankly, they have forgotten how. Enter Mr. Norrell, his eccentric ways, and his practical study of magic. This introverted, insecure man and his eventual pupil Jonathan Strange revolutionize England, reincarnating the regular use of magic and unburying other worlds and lost secrets that meant to stay buried.
Quick vote: Not many authors can hold a readers attention for a book of this length, especially one about magic, but Susanna Clarke does it. More in the Tolkein genre of fantasy than the Rowling genre, we loved the book; we thought it smart, sassy, and we loved the new world it opened up for us.