The Magicians and Mrs. Quent

I’m still reading, slowly, and since I just finished “book one” (not quite half way) I thought it would be a good time to capture some of my thoughts.  I’m torn about this book.  It’s well written and I’m definitely enjoying it — yet there’s something not quite complete in my satisfaction of it.

As some of the scenes unfold, they seem familiar.  Perhaps too familiar.  Many of the characters are like old friends I once knew.  Mrs. Lockwell is very much like Mrs. Bennett of Pride and Prejudice, very loud and shrill (although not as improper) at times and concerned with marrying off her daughters just as any proud mama would be.  There are three daughters, very much like the Dashwood sisters.  Even Mrs. Baydon, Mr. Baydon, and Lady Marsdel remind me of the gossipy neighbor and her married daughter in Sense and Sensibility, with Hugh Laurie’s dry, cynical comments.  Mr. Bennick reminds me of Colonel Brandon. 

Miss Ivy Lockwood counts the pennies and worries constantly about providing for her family, just as Elinor Dashwood did.  She went to a fancy party at Lady Marsel’s house and took sick, similar to Jane’s trip in Pride and Prejudice.  It gave her the opportunity to meet Mr. Rafferty’s family and acquiantances — and now they’ve turned their backs on her, just as they did to poor Jane, because Mr. Rafferty is now going to marry someone else of a more proper standing and fortune.  Even the annoying Mr. Wyble is remarkably similar to Mr. Collins, and the Lockwell’s house is entailed to him.

So while the scenes are amusing in that I try to compare and contrast with the Jane Austen works I’ve read, it also makes The Magicians and Mrs. Quent seem…derivative. 

My other complaint is the pace of the book.  Here I am on page 198 of just shy of 500 pages, and I still don’t know who Mrs. Quent is or who, exactly, the magicians are and what great occurence is supposed to happen.  A Mr. Quent was mentioned about 10 pages ago for the very first time.  Ivy Lockwell has been working on a vague riddle for most of the book, when she wasn’t walking and chatting with Mr. Rafferty, and she finally figured out one small thing — but she (and so I) still have no idea what’s going on.

Not all the characters or story lines are derivative (or if they are, I haven’t read that particular Austen story to recognize it).  I think Mr. Garritt’s story is quite unique, and while he’s slowly slipping into nefarious dealings, his choices have totally made sense and are well motivated.  He’s extremely naive.  Mr. Rafferty is rather unique, too, and I’m assuming one of the “magicians” although he knows nothing about magic and has just recently acquired a magical ring.  Mr. Lockwell is sort of an invalid.  Something horrible happened and he lost his mind, and we know it’s related to the story, and we have his riddle he left for his daughter, but dang it all to Invarel, it’s all unfolding so slowly!

(Oh, for those who can’t stand it, magic is spelled MAGICK.)

It’s an enjoyable read — but slow.  Nothing is happening — except familiar Austen-esque scenes.  The characters are entertaining — in an Austen-esque way.  Although slow, I am intrigued, and I have no cause to cease reading, but I’ve definitely been taking some mental notes about how I will proceed with my own “Austen” fantasy.  This is just too slow, really, and a little too derivative, for what I’d hoped, although it’s an enchanting if slow-paced story.

3 thoughts on “The Magicians and Mrs. Quent

  1. Hmmm… interesting assessment. I wonder how it would read for someone who’s never read any Austen, Bronte, or others of that period (era?) ( 😳 Yes, I just never could bring myself to do it…). I wouldn’t be picking up on the allusions to any of that and well, if there’s not a lot happening I tend to get bored and then…. put the book down and don’t go back… 🙁

  2. Gasp, dies, you haven’t read Austen? Okay, I admit, I struggled with Bronte, Dickens, etc. for years. My first memory of reading Austen was in that fateful Romantic Period class I took my last year at MSSC. We had to read Emma, and I put it off until right before we had to turn in our homework. To my shock, once I started reading it, I read the whole book straight through and loved it. I only read P&P a few years ago. I haven’t read S&S but I adored the movie.

    I had the same reaction to Jane Eyre. I’d tried to read it in high school and couldn’t — then I had to read it for a college class, put it off, and then loved it.

    I can’t say the same for Moby Dick, any Dickens I’ve read, or Wuthering Heights. I’ve tried and tried to read the latter and failed. The others, I’ve read, but I can’t say that I enjoyed them.

    Oh, and I’ll blog more about this later, but “book 2” of The Magicians & Mrs. Quent read like Jane Eyre! It even changed narrative/POV. The entire section is written first person like a letter in Miss Lockwood’s POV. All of the other threads were abandoned. However, one side character (villan) did show up. I just finished that section and now it’s picking up the other threads with Mr. Rafferty’s POV. It really does read like an entirely different book, and I’m not sure that I liked the method.

  3. Well. I blame my mother. And my adolescent hormonalness. :mrgreen: Seriously, my mother thought I would love Jane Eyre and bought me a copy and maybe suggested too strongly that I would love it and should read it. Which I might have. But I was 15 and stubborn and angry at the world (I’m still not sure why) and very, very opposed to doing ANYTHING anyone told me was good for me (or that I might enjoy, apparently…). So, ever since, I’ve had this mental block — these days, I think it’s mostly because I’ll probably read it and have to admit my mother was right… OK, I should just get over myself already, right? 😀

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