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I’m in the middle of reading Susannah Clarke’s first novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which is a fearsomely long fantasy novel. When the advanced reader’s copy arrived a week or so ago I noticed that the front cover was black, the back was white, and the spine was half black/half white. Now, originally, I’d thought this was to reflect the fact that the publishers wanted to preview the fact that they’d be producing two separate dustjackets for the book, and superficially this is the case, but last night I realised the real reason. I was sitting in the office – enjoying reading the book but feeling as though I was reaching the point where, instead of wishing that I was reading the book, I was wishing I’d read it – that I had an epiphany. The color divide on the spine exactly denotes the halfway point of the book, giving feeble reviewers like your humble correspondent hope that the end is in sight, progress is being made, do not abandon hope. Considerate really, when you think about it.

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