While reading this book I kept thinking of this quote by Neil Gaiman: “Books have sexes; or to be more precise, books have genders. They do in my head, anyway.”
The stories in “Ladies of Grace Adieu” exist in the same universe as Clarke’s fantastic first book, “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.” Both masterfully blend together the Victorian English novel (think, Jane Eyre) with the equally strong tradition of British faery stories (think, A Midsummer Night’s Dream). While Strange and Norrell is the male book of that realm, centering around magicians, generals, and kings, Grace Adieu is clearly its female counterpart.
The female point-of-view of these stories provides a humorous subversiveness against the masculine pretensions of British and Faery society. In this setting, it works very well.
Even if you haven’t read Clarke’s first novel, this quick and entertaining read is an excellent way to step into her well-imagined world.