Book - 2020
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"From the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic new novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality. Piranesi's house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house. There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known. For readers of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller's Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020.
ISBN: 9781635575637
Branch Call Number: FIC CLARK
Characteristics: 245 pages


From Library Staff

Polly's Pick: "The terrific and long-awaited new novel by the author of the best-selling Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, this book follows the mysterious Piranesi through a world contained in an immense house lapped by the ocean. Piranesi remembers nothing but the house, and believes his... Read More »

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Mar 01, 2021

A Masterpiece. A little Jewel of a Novel. Clarke has created a strange and alluring world where battles strength of will and cleverness and cruelty. Truly imaginative story.

Feb 15, 2021

This was a terrific book!

I loved the fact that, for me, it was completely original. I've never read anything quite like it. It has a bit of a David Mitchell quality in terms of the inventiveness and the creation of a world unlike our own. Clarke is meticulous in maintaining the consistency of her universe. Even though everything is not explained, there are no "cheats" - everything feels cohesive and well considered, right to the end

It may be a bit daunting at first - you do have to accept an original universe and get to know it through the protagonists eyes. But, I soon found myself completely hooked and ending up reading the entire novel in two sessions. It was that compelling. Plus, the writing is superb. Very concise and beautiful. Given the premise I thought there was going to be lots of needless description, but I don't think there was an unnecessary word in the whole book.

Piranesi is a very engaging character. You have to love and admire him, which means that spending time with him in his world is nothing but a delight. This is important as he is pretty much on every page.

Best of all, the book is satisfying right to the end. So many times a book gets of to a good start with an interesting premise and then falters. Not here, it was terrific right to the last word!

PimaLib_ChristineR Feb 11, 2021

I have heard somewhere that the beginning of a novel is the most difficult for readers because they are dropped into something completely new, and that was certainly the case with Piranesi where the first person narrator describes his simple life inside a giant house full of sculptures, with the sea enclosed on the ground floor and the clouds and rain coming from the stories above. It was weird, confusing, and I was definitely concerned about where a story about a world with only two inhabitants can go. BUT, I can tell you that my concerns were unfounded, the story brilliant, and it is worth your time to get beyond the discomfort of the opening act and dive into the metaphors that the House presents.

It's not a long read, but Piranesi is a story that will stick with you for a long time.

Jan 06, 2021

A remarkable story in a fantastic world. I loved the main character, Piranesi, and enjoyed all the time I spent with him in his world. I also liked how the story was revealed through his thorough review of his own journals, and his thorough approach to figuring out what is a bit of a mystery. I'm interested in reading more by Susanna Clarke.

I read this novel as an ebook from another library.

Jan 02, 2021

Because I always give author's more than one chance, I took this out of the library almost immediately after finishing "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell" (which I really didn't like).

I loved this one. Short and sweet and not outrageously over written. She is redeemed but I do think I'll stay away from the other series. I'm starting "The Ladies of Grace Adieu" today. Fingers crossed

Jan 01, 2021

Like the labyrinth of a house that is Piranesi's private world, this story has many levels and fog-shrouded conceptions. It's the most unusual, metaphysical but also approachable and readable work I've encountered in a long time. The name Piranesi is not defined in the book, so I looked it up online. It turns out Piranesi was a real person, an architect and artist, in the 1700s famous for his etchings of Rome and of fictitious and atmospheric "prisons." Susanna Clarke seems to have seen these etchings and determined to inhabit them in a novel. Don't be afraid to enter the labyrinth to travel through a compelling highly imaginative tale that arrives at a satisfying conclusion.

forbesrachel Dec 28, 2020

The House is infinite. Each Hall and Vestibule is filled with statues. Clouds reside in the upper level, an ocean undulates in the lower one, and in the middle lives the book's protagonist, named Piranesi by the Other. Piranesi navigates the House with remembered ease, attuned to its clockwork flooding thanks to his observant nature and reverence for the mysterious place. But Piranesi does not remember much else. His curiosity sparks after the Other says some unusual things, and with the help of his journals the story of how he came to the House, and what this place is begins to piece together. The entire book is told through short journal entries. These become a window into the mind of this character. His almost childlike innocence, and skillset make him unusually perceptive in certain matters, but unusually naive in others. His trust in the Other is one such example. While there are very few characters in the book, most of them are morally reprehensible figures. Yet despite this, Clarke keeps our attention on the beauty and sanctity of life just like the protagonist does. Even the writing itself is a calming balm.
Piranesi has been compared to Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Miller's Circe, but a more apt comparison would be Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things. Between its exploration of a mentally injured character with a unique perspective of the world, an enclosed setting, and the beautiful language, it is a great companion read. For those wanting an intriguing, empathetic, and contemplative book, the mysterious world of Piranesi awaits.

Dec 28, 2020

This is a book about transformation, about belonging, about tides--about ideas that iterate and echo and reform, transformed, and about people who do that, too. I really loved it.

Oct 23, 2020

I don't want to praise it too highly, for then the next reader wiil be disappointed, but i couldn't put it down. It is both real and surreal. Any summary of the plot wiil not be fair to the evocative descriptions and plot revelations.

Sep 15, 2020

When I fail to be as enthralled by a book, as other reviewers, I often wonder why. I think in this case it is because I am not really an erudite reader. In reading the reviews I came across the description of “academic thriller” and that it is. It is a very original tale and I think I just was not astute enough to capture all the layers in this story of Piranesi, the master and the 13 skeletons who Piranesi sees as humans. I am not particularly fond of surrealist work, and that may be at the bottom of my discomfort with this book.

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