Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Magic in England by 1806 had been reduced to a study of the history of magic, the province of historical societies created by the lesser nobility (isn't there a word for this class?) and bourgeois with too much time and money on their hands. Then, when one historical society provokes a man claiming to be a magician to prove himself, practical magic makes a comeback. This is essentially the age-old story about politics, politicians, and the price paid for the doings of selfish men. Under the guise of a historical record replete with footnotes, this long, involved tale manages to be consistent in a tone, language, and rhythm one would expect from the period. Neil Gaiman gushed that it is "...from beginning to end, a perfect pleasure." I thought it was entertaining.