This book is authentic for the period it proposes to imitate in at least one way: it reads like Clarke was paid by the word.
There was a lot to like in the book. Some of her turns of phrase are wonderful. I liked Arabella, Stephen, and Lady Pole. Mostly I liked Jonathan Strange. Childermass too. It was enjoyable enough, and I'm glad I read it to the end.
But the pacing. AUGH, the pacing. It was TERRIBLE. I read the book in the three-volume edition. Nothing happened in the second book until the last thirty pages. Not a single thing worth noting. This book could easily have been condensed into 500-550 pages without losing anything of any worth. Length isn't generally an issue for me (heh) - in fact, I do love a good long book, because I always tend to want MORE - but this was stretched. And the irritating thing is, plenty of different routes could have been taken to fill up that space. As someone else mentioned, I wanted to know more about Norrell. Without knowing more, he's just a malicious git. Strange could have used some more filling out too - why do we only meet him 270 odd pages into it?
The end felt... convoluted. I don't want to say too much, but it seemed rushed, and with the middle of the book dragging so much, it made no sense to suddenly go BAM! ENDING!
Overall, if you have some spare time and get a chance to read this, I would. It's a decent faux-Victorian study of a relationship between two vastly different men, with some commendable pieces of writing, and some intriguing moments, but ultimately, I wouldn't strongly