#41 18/10/2004 18:22:19

Lord Golden
Novice
Date d'inscription: 19/02/2004
Messages: 11

Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Ce Jonathan Strange m'interesse beaucoup, mais j'aimerais savoir quelques points plutt obscurs. En fait, l'univers parait tre un univers tout fait rel, mais avec en son sein plusieurs lments fantastiques (les magiciens, pour ne pas les citer). Voil, je me posais juste la question : est-ce que le mot "fantastique" se retrouve vraiment dans tout le livre, ou est-ce que la prdominance reste "raliste", avec quelque lments fantastiques qui s'y glisse ? Ma question peut paraitre floue, je m'en excuse (c'est tout moi a), et j'espre que ceux qui l'ont lu sauront y rpondre happy

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#42 18/10/2004 20:14:32

Gillossen
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Date d'inscription: 20/04/2002
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Dj, c'est un roman de Fantasy, pas de Fantastique. smile Les lments magiques sont accepts d'emble comme partie intgrante, on n'est pas dans une irruption dans le monde rel, etc... Et pour rpondre plus prcisment donc, la fantasy fait partie intgrante de ce monde, il ne s'agit pas simplement de faire joli dans le dcor, si je puis dire. Maintenant, c'est sr que le cadre, comme le ton, peuvent surprendre si on s'attend des barbares chassant le dragon. lol
Critique dans 3 ou 4 jours maintenant... smile


Can I Interest You In A Comfy London Apartment At 221B Baker St.?

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#43 28/10/2004 10:04:31

Anarion
Primarque
Lieu: Terra
Date d'inscription: 07/12/2003
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

La citation du jour annoncerait-elle une critique imminente, par hasard? wink

En tout cas, je l'aime bien cette citation


"Un p'tit tour de magie peut-tre? Ce crayon, je vais le faire disparatre. TADAAAM!! Il a...dis-pa-ru..."

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#44 28/10/2004 15:08:48

Gillossen
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Anarion,jeudi 28 octobre 2004, 10:04 a crit:

La citation du jour annoncerait-elle une critique imminente, par hasard? wink

En tout cas, je l'aime bien cette citation

Plus qu'imminente prsent ! wink

arrow http://www.elbakin.net/fantasy/roman/jo … orrell-950

Et dsol pour le retard, mais entre " Nous les dieux " et " Eragon " que je voulais expdier - surtout le second, bien sr... - je n'ai pas tenu le dlai prvu... dry
J'ai vraiment hsit mettre 9,5, mais de toute faon, au-del de la note chiffre, il y a l'oeuvre... ohmy


Can I Interest You In A Comfy London Apartment At 221B Baker St.?

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#45 28/10/2004 15:18:26

Guybrush Threepwood
Pirate mrite
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Date d'inscription: 26/09/2003
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Eh bien a fait plaisir de lire une critique comme celle-ci smile Hop, un livre de plus prioritaire dans ma liste d'attente tongue Merci pour cette critique en tout cas smile


Votez pour Elbakin.net, sinon Jack Bauer s'occupera de vous...

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#46 28/10/2004 15:44:32

marvin rouge
bourgmestre fourbe
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Date d'inscription: 09/10/2002
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Vu la note, je le rajoute aussi sur ma liste de lectures!
Mais euh, le sous-titre du sujet (HP pour adultes) est-il vraiment justifi, il me semble pas y avoir beaucoup de rapports entre ces deux oeuvres...


Ne soyez rien ; devenez sans cesse.

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#47 28/10/2004 15:56:46

Gillossen
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

marvin rouge,jeudi 28 octobre 2004, 15:44 a crit:

Mais euh, le sous-titre du sujet (HP pour adultes) est-il vraiment justifi, il me semble pas y avoir beaucoup de rapports entre ces deux oeuvres...

Je reprends mon PS du tout premier message : wink

PS : Concernant la formulation " Harry Potter pour adultes ", je ne fais que reprendre l'une des facettes de la promo, notamment dans le but, je l'avoue, d'inciter du monde se pencher sur ce roman.  Mais bien que la formulation soit interrogative, je ne cherche pas lancer un dbat sur ce thme-l, je tenais le prciser.

Maintenant, aprs lecture, c'est sr qu'il n'y a pas tellement (ou encore moins si l'on peut dire) de rapport, en tous cas aussi direct que de dire " Un HP pour adultes ". smile


Can I Interest You In A Comfy London Apartment At 221B Baker St.?

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#48 28/10/2004 16:09:01

Publivore
.
Lieu: Autre Monde
Date d'inscription: 15/05/2002
Messages: 4816

Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Ca, c'est de la critique logieuse ! big_smile Vu les dernires phrases, qui se suffisent presque elles-mme, je note ce roman dans a case lire d'urgence... A la rflexion, je vais peut-tre attendre l'anne prochaine et la parution en franais tant qu' faire... unsure

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#49 28/10/2004 16:19:33

Fastolph Bolger
Roi des Kong
Date d'inscription: 24/04/2002
Messages: 1485
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

H bien ohmy Ca c'est de la critique tongue Son succs fulgurant ne serait donc pas usurp smile C'est tant mieux.

Enfin, voil un livre dont je vais guetter la traduction. Si c'est Laffont qui dite a ne devrait pas tre trop long je pense .
A moins que je ne me laisse tenter par la VO rolleyes

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#50 28/10/2004 17:35:41

Ala
Fille de la Terre
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Date d'inscription: 18/09/2003
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Oh l l, la critique qui tue! big_smile Bon, j'tais dj convaincue et l, je le suis encore plus! wink Mais je pense que je vais quand mme attendre la traduction; 2005 n'est pas trop loin et mme si je lis en VO, j'apprcie plus quand c'est en franais... Une ide plus prcise du mois de la sortie VF? unsure


Hey dol, merry dol, ring a dong dillo!

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#51 28/10/2004 17:39:15

Thys
Maman Poule
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Date d'inscription: 25/04/2002
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Eh bien, mes aeux, un 9 qui tire vers le 9,5 ! Il me semble que a fait un moment qu'on n'en avait pas eu ! smile
Merci pour la critique, a fait quand mme plaisir de voir que dans tous ces livres que tu te dvoues lire pour nous donner un avis, il y en a quand mme qui valent le coup ! wink
Bref, j'tais dj convaincue et j'avais prvu de l'ajouter ma bobliothque prochainement, mais la critique me donne encore plus envie, ahlala, le choix de mes prochaines lectures va tre un vrai dileme, pas facile tous les jours la vie d'un amateur de fantasy! tongue

Thys


"La mort de tout homme m'amoindrit parce que je fais partie de l'humanit ; c'est pourquoi, ne demande jamais pour qui sonne le glas, il sonne pour toi."

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#52 28/10/2004 17:43:36

Anarion
Primarque
Lieu: Terra
Date d'inscription: 07/12/2003
Messages: 6300
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Merci pour la critique! big_smile

Je ne dormirai plus tant qu'on ne m'aura pas dit quand est ce que ce chef d'oeuvre sort en VF! big_smile
2005 s'annonce sous de trs bon auspices!
big_smile


"Un p'tit tour de magie peut-tre? Ce crayon, je vais le faire disparatre. TADAAAM!! Il a...dis-pa-ru..."

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#53 28/10/2004 18:53:59

almaarea
Trahie par Zaza
Date d'inscription: 18/02/2004
Messages: 4498
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Quelle critique blink ce livre me plaisait dj beaucoup auparavent, mais l, je trpigne d'avance d'avoir entre mes mains ce petit bijou ! smile

Je ne dormirai plus tant qu'on ne m'aura pas dit quand est ce que ce chef d'oeuvre sort en VF!  

Je te rejoins dans cette grve du sommeil ! mrgreen

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#54 28/10/2004 19:23:14

Zin
Zaibre karolingien
Date d'inscription: 14/04/2004
Messages: 554
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Effectivement si je n'avais dj pas eu avant l'envie de lire ce livre la critique m'y pousserait plus que fermement big_smile
Je vais aussi attendre la sortie franaise (et on va faire des neuvaines pour que a sorte dbut 2005 d'accord... sainte Rita, grve du sommeil je m'inscris aussi... unsure big_smile ).
Et j'aime bien la faon dont tu soulignes le ct lgrement rtro, trs "old school" du 19e anglais (et les rfrences de l'auteur rolleyes ).
Enfin je me calme... je reprendrai quand j'aurai lu, encore quelque chose pour lequel il faut patienter wink


Rodeur en vadrouille Berlin

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#55 28/10/2004 20:43:50

Lord Golden
Novice
Date d'inscription: 19/02/2004
Messages: 11

Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Merci Gillossen pour cette critique, qui est totalement en accord avec mon avis sur ce pur bijour littraire. Un chef d'oeuvre comme on en a pas lu depuis un bon moment, une merveille de livre.
Encore merci toi pour cette critique on ne peut plus logieuse, parce qu'il le vaut bien comme dirait l'autre wink

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#56 28/10/2004 20:47:22

Irael
Lige
Lieu: Savoie
Date d'inscription: 24/07/2004
Messages: 57
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Je crois que comme tout le monde j'ai trs envie de lire ce livre...Je vais peut etre me risquer la VO (d'autant plus que mon anniversaire approche grands pas big_smile ) en faisant confiance Gillossen pour ce qui est du niveau "requis" wink.

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#57 29/10/2004 14:37:59

Dwarf Tyrion
Novice
Date d'inscription: 14/09/2004
Messages: 14

Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Ca me fait d'autant plus plaisir de savoir qu'il est deja dans ma bibliotheque big_smile

Avec Shadowmarch, et prince of Ayodhya, ca m'en fait des pages a intercaler dans Wheel of Time... Haaa, quel bonheur que le genre soit prolifique ! lol

Merci pour la critique smile

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#58 29/10/2004 15:14:25

Edhellen Wilwarin
fan de Chopin
Lieu: Salon de Provence (prs de), d
Date d'inscription: 27/10/2003
Messages: 715

Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Eh bien ! Je l'attendais cette critique ; et bien jolie en effet ohmy ! je viens de trouver le 1er livre que je lirais en anglais big_smile ...(hormis le SdA mais je l'avais dj lu en VF avant wink ). Et comme le niveau ne parat pas trop difficile, et que la qualit semble vraiment au rendez-vous, je pense que c'est un bon choix smile . [size=8]et puis a me donnera une ide pour les quelques tomes de la Roue du Temps qui m'attendent la fin de la VF mrgreen [/size]
En tout cas une livre coup de coeur, d'aprs Gillo...tout le temps pass dessus par cette chre crivain n'a pas t inutile, heureusement...merci pour la critique smile


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v447/magdala/sign2ou.jpg

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#59 30/10/2004 13:50:27

Gillossen
Spcialiste en rsurrection
Lieu: Entre deux chapitres
Date d'inscription: 20/04/2002
Messages: 34367
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Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Eh bien, merci, vos ractions font plaisir ! wink C'est sr qu'on n'aborde pas toutes les critiques avec la mme approche, certaines tant juges simplement d'un oeil " profesionnel ", en esprant que a reste juste, mme si a manque un peu de passion. Et puis, de temps en temps, on tombe sur des perles... wink

Et j'aime bien la faon dont tu soulignes le ct lgrement rtro, trs "old school" du 19e anglais (et les rfrences de l'auteur )

Ah, le rythme du roman n'est pas frntique, c'est certain, et tout cela n'y est pas pour rien... wink Je pense que Susanna Clarke peut d'ailleurs s'amliorer encore sur quelques points. smile


PS : Pas de date annonce pour la VF, dsol. Evidemment, ds qu'on le saura, on se dpchera de prvenir tout le monde ! wink


Can I Interest You In A Comfy London Apartment At 221B Baker St.?

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#60 01/11/2004 20:09:45

Gillossen
Spcialiste en rsurrection
Lieu: Entre deux chapitres
Date d'inscription: 20/04/2002
Messages: 34367
Site web

Re: Critique ! [Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell]

Non, ce sujet ne passera pas si vite en page 2 du forum ! big_smile

Trs jolie petite surprise pour Halloween, de la part de Susanna Clarke... A lire dans le trs chic New York Times... cool wink
Et comme un lien est parfois bien vite mort, ou rserv ceux qui s'inscrivent... Je me permets de le copier/coller ici. Ca peut paratre long, mais en fait, pas tant que a. Copiez-le dans Word ou un quivalent si vous prfrez. wink




Antickes and Frets
By SUSANNA CLARKE

Published: October 31, 2004


In the spring of 1568, Mary, Queen of Scots, fearing the wrath of her subjects, crossed the border into England. Once arrived, she wrote a letter to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, explaining her predicament and begging for her protection. Elizabeth wrote back, expressing her shock that subjects should behave so wickedly toward their lawful and divinely appointed Prince. But privately she considered how Mary had often laid claim to the English throne. She also thought how Mary had had a most baleful influence on her Scottish subjects, how she had been an instigator of civil wars and the cause of several murders.

With many regrets, Elizabeth cast the Queen of Scots into prison for the rest of her life.

The Queen of Scots was given into the care of the Earl of Shrewsbury, a quiet gentleman who was remarkable for two things - his vast wealth and his wife, a lady esteemed by Queen Elizabeth. The Earl brought the Queen of Scots to Tutbury Castle, an ancient gray tower on the borders of Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

From the roof of this castle she looked down. Once she had laid claim to three thrones; now her world was shrunk to this view of a muddy ditch and a dark hillside.

How had this happened? In the royal courts of Europe her fall had been a matter of common prediction. Her decisions had been catastrophic, her love affairs scandalous. She had been a comet; and her blazing descent through midnight skies had been plain for all to see. But the Queen herself was amazed at this change in her fortunes - amazed and very much inclined to blame someone.

Elizabeth, she thought, had done this to her. Elizabeth and England. The Queen gazed about her at the gloomy landscape. The pallor of the sky seemed to her to be Elizabeth's white complexion. The chill wind on her cheek was Elizabeth's breath. The glint of a river seen through winter trees was the bright spark of malice in Elizabeth's eye.

The Queen of Scots felt she had dwindled, until she was nothing more than a flea upon Elizabeth's body or a mouse in the hem of her gown. With a wail the Queen cast herself down and began to weep and to beat her hands on the stones. Her attendants carried her to her chamber and laid her upon the bed. Her lady-in-waiting, Mrs. Seton, sat down beside her and tried to distract her with gossip.

Mrs. Seton told her how the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury, though both middle-aged, had not been married long. She said that the Countess had not been born into any great family, indeed that she was scarcely more than a farmer's daughter, but had achieved her present rank by marrying four husbands, each richer and greater than the one before.

"Quatre maris!" exclaimed the Queen of Scots, whose first language was French. "Mais elle a des yeux de pourceau!" (Four husbands! But she has piggy-eyes!)

Mrs. Seton laughed in agreement.

Four husbands! thought the Queen of Scots. And the first three dying in so convenient a manner! The Queen's husbands had never consulted her convenience in their dying. Her first, the King of France, had died at the age of 16 and so she had lost the French throne. Her second husband (whom she had hated) had fallen ill in the most tantalizing way, but had utterly failed to die - until some kind person had first blown him up and then strangled him.

This suggested an idea to the Queen of Scots. "Did the Countess's husbands all die naturally?" she asked.

Mrs. Seton snorted in ridicule and leaned closer. "Her first husband was no more than a boy! The Countess - who was only plain Bess Hardwick then - embroidered him a coat all checkered over with black and white squares. And, after he had worn it a few times, he began to complain that the world had become to him nothing but black and white squares. Every dark tabletop seemed to him a gaping black hole that meant to swallow him up and every window filled with white winter light was full of malicious intent. And so he died, raving about it."

The Queen of Scots was impressed. She had heard of a poisonous dart sewn into a bodice, but she had never heard of anyone being killed by embroidery before. She herself was very fond of embroidery.

She remembered how she had fancied herself a mouse in Elizabeth's skirts. A needle, she thought, was a most suitable weapon for a mouse - mouse-sized, in fact. And if Elizabeth were to die of that needle (or indeed of anything else) then the Queen of Scots would surely be Queen of the English too.

Tutbury Castle was cold and evil-smelling. It was also rather small and so they did not have to walk far before they found the Countess, seated at her needlework. The Queen asked the Countess what she was embroidering.

"A picture of a beautiful palace in a sweet country," said the Countess and showed the Queen. "As I sew I like to fancy that my children and grandchildren will one day live in houses such as this. It is a foolish idea, no doubt, but it passes the time pleasantly."

The Queen of Scots rolled her eyes at Mrs. Seton to express her astonishment at the presumption of the farmer's daughter. The Countess saw what the Queen did but she was not in the least abashed.

Then the Queen of Scots began to talk of embroidery, and of husbands, and of the death of husbands; and just for good measure she threw in a few references to black and white checkering.

The Countess replied blandly that embroidery was a very charming way to pass the time, and husbands were generally a good thing, and their death much to be regretted.

The Queen frowned. She had heard that the Countess was a clever woman. Surely she must understand what was meant?

The Queen said, "I should like to send a present to my dear sister, the Queen of England. A piece of embroidery that I intend to work with my own hands. The work will be nothing but a pleasure to me for I declare that I love the Queen of England better than anyone else in the world."

"As everyone must who sees her," agreed the Countess piously.

"Quite," said the Queen of Scots. She brought out a book filled with quaint pictures that might be adapted for needlework. There were cockatrices and lions and manticores - beasts, which (the Queen hoped) might be made to tear Elizabeth to pieces through the means of magic and embroidery.

The Countess dutifully admired the pictures, but offered no opinion as to which the Queen should choose.

Henceforth every morning the Queen, the Countess and Mrs. Seton sat down to embroider together. Gathered in the light of the window with their heads bent over their work, they grew very friendly. The Queen embroidered a pair of gloves for Elizabeth, which she decorated with sea monsters amid blue and silver waves. But though she filled the monsters' mouths with sharp-looking teeth, Elizabeth was not bitten by anything; nor did she drown.

The Earl of Shrewsbury sent a letter to Queen Elizabeth saying that the Scottish Queen passed her time innocently. This was not in the least true: when she was not at her needlework, she was intriguing with English malcontents who wanted to assassinate Elizabeth and she also wrote letters to the Kings of Spain and France cordially inviting them to invade England. But she did not forget to admire the Countess's needlework and to talk, every now and then, of black and white checkering.

But the years went by; Elizabeth was as healthy as ever, no one invaded and the Queen grew tired of paying the Countess compliments. She said to Mrs. Seton, "She is obstinate, but I have magic of my own. And if she will not help me then I will use it against her. After all I know what it is that she loves the best."

Then the Queen combed and dressed her red-brown hair. She put on a gown of violet-brown velvet embroidered with silver and pearls. She called the Earl to her chamber and made him sit at her side and told him that of all the gentlemen who attended her, it was he whom she trusted the most. Day after day she made him many sweet speeches, until the poor old gentleman was very near falling in love with her.

Mrs. Seton watched all this with a puzzled air. "But I do not think it is the Earl that the Countess loves the best," she said to the Queen.

"The Earl!" The Queen burst out laughing. "No, indeed! But she loves his money. She desires that it shall be given to her children and grandchildren. It is all she ever thinks of."

Word reached the Countess of what was happening, as the Queen knew it must, but no sign of anger appeared on her broad Derbyshire face. The next time that the three ladies were seated at their embroidery, the Queen revived the old question of what present would please the Queen of England best.

"A skirt," said the Countess of Shrewsbury in the most decisive manner. "A skirt of white satin. Her Majesty loves new clothes."

The Queen of Scots smiled. "As do we all. And what shall the devices be?"

"Let it be powdered with little pink carnations," said the Countess.

So somewhat doubtfully (for she would have much preferred poisonous snakes and spiders) the Queen of Scots embroidered a skirt of white satin with little pink carnations; and sent it to the Queen of England. Not many weeks later she heard that Elizabeth had got the pox. Her white skin was all over pink pustules!

The Queen of Scots clapped her hands together in delight. She began to cast her mind back over the years of her imprisonment, recalling past slights and kindnesses, considering who should live and be rewarded, and who should be sent to the Tower and die.

Then a day came when the wind blew and the rain lashed the glass, and the Countess entered the Queen's room unannounced. Her eyes were bright with excitement. She brought news, she said. Queen Elizabeth's advisers had been put into a great fright by Her Majesty's illness and what had terrified them most of all was the thought that the Queen of Scots might become Queen of England. "For," said the Countess heartlessly, "they hate you very much and dread the havoc you would certainly bring upon this realm. And so they have passed a law saying you shall never be Queen of England!"

The Queen of Scots was silent. She stood like a stone. "But the Queen of England is dead?" she asked at last.

"Oh, no. Her Majesty is much, much better - for which we all give grateful thanks."

The Queen of Scots murmured a prayer - she scarcely knew what. "But the pink carnations?" she said.

"Her Majesty was most disappointed in your present," said the Countess. "The embroidery came all unraveled." She cast a contemptuous look at the Queen's lady-in-waiting. "It is my belief that Mrs. Seton did not knot and tie the threads properly."

Henceforth the Queen of Scots and the Countess of Shrewsbury were no longer friends.

That night in her chamber when the Queen lay in bed, it seemed to her that the curtains of her bed were parted by a breath of wind. In the light of the moon the bare winter branches appeared to her now like great, black stitches sewn across the window - like stitches sewn across the castle, across the Queen herself. In her terror she thought her eyes were stitched up, her throat was closed with black stitches; her fingers were sewn together so that her hands were become useless, ugly flaps.

She screamed and her attendants came running. "Elle m'a cousue mon lit! Elle m'a cousue mon lit!" cried the Queen. (She has sewn me to the bed! She has sewn me to the bed!) They calmed her and showed her that the Countess had done no such thing. But the Queen never again tried to steal the Earl's affections away from the Countess.

A year or so later, on Allhallows Eve, the Earl moved the Queen from one of his own castles to the Countess's new house of Chatsworth. When they arrived the Earl smilingly showed her a new floor that his wife had caused to have laid in the hallway - a checkerboard of black and white marble.

The Queen shivered, remembering the boy who had died wailing that the black squares and the white were killing him. "I will not walk across it," she said.

When it was revealed that all the entrances to the house had black and white squares, the Queen declined absolutely to enter the house. They brought a chair for her in the porch and she went and sat upon it. The Derbyshire rain came down and the Queen waited until the Earl brought workmen to dig up the black and white marble.

The Queen had not known a life could be so blank. She passed the years devising plans to gain this throne or that, intriguing to marry this great nobleman or that, but nothing ever came of any of it; and all the while she thought she could hear the snip, snip, snip of Elizabeth cutting the threads of all her actions and the stitch, stitch, stitch of the Countess sewing her into the fabric of England, her prison.

One evening she was staring vacantly at an embroidered hanging. It showed some catastrophe befalling a classical lady. Her eye was caught by one of the classical lady's attendants who was depicted running away from the dreadful scene in alarm. A breath of wind within the chamber kept bringing the hanging dangerously close to a candle that stood upon a coffer. It was almost as if the embroidered figure desired to rush into the flames. "She is tired," thought the Queen. "Tired of being sewn into this picture of powerlessness and despair."

The Queen rose from her chair and, unseen by any of her attendants, moved the candlestick a fraction closer to the hanging. The next time the wind blew, the hanging caught the flame.

The moment they observed the fire the Queen's women cried out in alarm and the gentlemen began to issue instructions to one another. They pleaded with the Queen to leave the apartment, to hurry from the danger. But the Queen stood like a statue of alabaster. She kept her eyes upon the embroidered figure and saw it consumed by the fire. "See!" she murmured to her women. "Now she is free."

The next day she said to her maid, "Get me crimson velvet. Make it the reddest that ever there was. Get me silks as bloody as the dawn." In the weeks that followed, the Queen sat at the window. In her lap was the crimson velvet and she sewed it in silks as bloody as the dawn.

And when her ladies asked her what she was doing, she replied with a smile that she was embroidering beautiful flames. "Beautiful flames," she said, "can destroy so many things - prison walls that hold you, stitches that bind you fast."

Two months later the Queen of Scots was arrested for treason. Some of her letters had been discovered. On the morning of her execution, she approached the scaffold where lay the ax and the block. She was dressed in a black gown with a floor-length veil of white linen. When her outer garments were removed there was the petticoat of crimson velvet with the bright embroidered flames dancing upon it. The Queen smiled.

The Countess of Shrewsbury lived on for 20 years more. She built many beautiful houses and embroidered hangings for them with pictures of Penelope and Lucretia. She herself was as discreet as Penelope and as respected as Lucretia. In the centuries that followed her children and her children's children became Earls and Dukes. They governed England and lived in the fairest houses in the most beautiful landscapes. Many of them are there still.

Antickes are grotesque figures. Frets are formal Renaissance devices. Both are used in 16th-century embroidery.

Susanna Clarke is the author of "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.''


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