A Discovery of Witches & Richard Armitage For Matthew Clairmont

Discovery_of_Witches_CoverI have been missing in action online for nearly 3 days because I was busy reading A Discovery of Witches every free moment I had.  I enjoyed reading this book IMMENSELY, even though I think it is way too long.  I purchased the book in hardcover format.  There are 43 chapters and 579 pages to read.  I feel that this story could have still been very well told in much less chapters and in about 350 pages instead.  Deborah Harkness goes way overboard with some of her descriptions in this book and spend too much time on some scenes.  Never-the-less I enjoyed A Discovery of Witches very much and I am so glad it was recommended to me.  I now want to listen to the audio version, so I purchased it just a few minutes ago.  Since A Discovery of Witches was such a long drawn out story, I decided to experience the sequel, Shadow of Night, in audio version only, so I purchased that as well.   Since I am an audible dot com member I got both audio books at no cost.  I simply used my credits to get them.

UPDATE: (9/01/2013) – I recently read ADOW again, and the second time around I breezed through it and did not find the book too long or tedious with the descriptions.  Go figure!

Deborah Harkness

Author, Deborah Harkness

A discovery of Witches  is written by Deborah Harkness who is a  professor of history.  The book was released on February 8, 2011 and immediately debuted at #2 on the NY Times bestseller list.  In the summer of 2011 Warner Brothers purchased the film rights.     The reviews for A Discovery of Witches is actually quite mixed.  Either people love it or hate it.   I loved it!  If you are really into traditional religion you may not like it at all because this book is a love story involving a vampire and a witch.  I know people who refuse to read Harry Potter on the grounds that it is work of the devil.  If you have that idea about Harry Potter then you may as well save your money and time on this book.  I read all the Harry Potter books and loved them.  I had no problem with this book because I long ago stopped acknowledging any beings such as the devil, satan or whatever you want to call such negative energies.  To me, there is ONLY God, so I did not feel threatened by this book.  I remember watching Dark Shadows when I was a little girl and being intrigued by Barnabas Collins and his love for Josette.  The witch Angelique was always wrecking havoc in Collinswood though because she wanted Barnabas for herself.


Read the book if you want to know what this means.

All I will say about A Discovery of Witches is that it is mainly a love story.  Professor Matthew Clairmont is a vampire who is described as very handsome, very tall, extremely charming, a gentleman,  well dressed, wealthy, and a  connoisseur of wine who almost immediately falls deeply in love with a witch named Diana Bishop.  Diana is a professor of alchemical history at Oxford University in England who is extremely intelligent, but in many ways also like a naive little girl.   Diana falls madly in love with Matthew in return.

You cannot help but fall for Matthew Clairmont yourself.  The professor treats the woman he loves with such precious delicacy, such total devotion and goes beyond the Knight in Shining Armour.  His love for Diana is complete and he goes out of his way to protect her.  As a vampire Matthew’s senses are very sharp and are especially heightened when he is around Diana.  The way Matthew smells Diana is very sensuous and sexy.  He is always touching her in some way and using his other senses to connect with her.  When Matthew invites Diana over to his place for dinner I was enjoying it as much as Diana was.  Matthew is so smooth and classy.  I never got tired of the wine tasting scenarios throughout the book.  I just loved how Matthew was teaching Diana to recognize the different flavors in wine.

Matthew to DianaI love romance novels and have literally read hundreds of them, but this is the first love story I ever read where the hero is so very physically and verbally demonstrative throughout the entire length of the book.  There is no doubt that Matthew is deeply in love with Diana and it shows in his actions and words on almost every page.  How can you not fall for a man like that even if he is a vampire…LOL  When Diana began to suffer through witchwater I was right there with her because girl, that would have been me too if I was in her shoes.   Diana did get on my nerves from time to time though.  For such an intelligent woman she was always choosing the wrong moments to be stubborn and argue with Matthew.

I am not going to get into specifics about the events in the storyline.  You will have to read the book yourself.  It does contain a lot of descriptive scenes and sometimes reads like a college history textbook.  If you can get past that to just enjoy the characters and the storyline you will enjoy this book.  You may want to go with the audio version if getting through such thick books are challenging for you.  A lot of people found this book boring to read through so that is why I recommend the audio version.  As I already wrote, this book is way too long.  I love to read and really enjoyed the story and characters so I found it only mildly challenging to get through.   Deborah Harkness is obviously a University scholar.


The Bodleian library at Oxford University

The Bodleian library at Oxford University is an important locale in the book.  I looked it up online and was ecstatic to learn that it is a real library at the University and not made up.  A good portion of the book also takes place in France as well as England.  I love the locations that Deborah Harkness chose for this book.

Bodleian-Library-Oxford-University-11Isn’t the library exquisite?  Their website is really interesting too.  Click on Bodleian Libraries University of Oxford.


Richard Armitage

Richard Armitage

The entire time that I was reading A Discovery of Witches I had Richard Armitage (NOT Hugh Jackman) in my head as Matthew Clairmont.  Richard is Professor Matthew Clarmont ALL THE WAY!!!  If Warner Brothers doesn’t cast Richard Armitage in this role I will lose all respect for all filmmakers the world over.  Matthew Clairmont is very handsome, but since he is a vampire, he is also described as extremely white and I have seen pictures of Richard where he looked like he hadn’t been in the sun in years.

Below are some photos of Richard where he can easily pass for the living dead.

UPDATE – 5/13/2013:  I am specifically referring to the lighting and makeup used in these photos.


Handsome vampire look #1

Richard Armitage

Handsome vampire look #2

Richard Armitage

This is a favorite picture for many of RA’s fans and I could never understand why. To me he looks like death warmed over in this photo. This is a scary vampire look.


Richard Armitage

Handsome vampire look #3

I found the character of Matthew Clairmont much more interesting than I ever found Thorin Oakenshield.  I think that this trilogy can do for Richard Armitage what Wolverine did for Hugh Jackman.  Of course it is not really fair to judge both characters since we have not yet seen the other two installments of The Hobbit.   After reading A Discovery of Witches I see more layers to Matthew Clairmont than Thorin.  Matthew Clairmont would be such a switch from anything Richard has done in the past.  Well actually as I think more on it, RA would be using his brains a lot in this movie and I did see that in the Lucas North character.  Matthew Clairmont is very brainy and I find smarts very sexy in a man.  There are so many facets to Matthew   With the right director and a great screenplay I can see Richard Armitage unfolding as Matthew Clairmont in three installment movies.  I am very interested in seeing how it will unfold.  Will there be one movie?  I cannot see a movie based on this book being less than two and half hours long.  A lot would have to be cut out.  To do justice it would be better to make this a 4 part miniseries like the BBC did with North & South, but it looks like it will be a regular movie.

Please support the campaign for Richard Armitage to be cast as Matthew Clairmont.

Armitage4Clairmont on facebook

Armitage4Clairmont website

Deborah Harkness official website

I was trying to think of who I would love to see play Diana Bishop.  I loved Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale, but I cannot picture her as Diana Bishop.  Maybe Jennifer Aniston?  Diana Bishop is not an Englishwoman, she is an American witch.  I would not mind seeing either Jennifer Aniston or Scarlett Johansson as Diana Bishop.  I can even see Kerry Washington as Diana, but I bet fans of the book would have a fit.  Kerry is a fabulous actress though.  I have seen her work and she is extremely talented.  Kerry is now in a TV series called Scandal that comes on every Thursday night.  I have never watched it, but I hear from friends that the show is addictive and that Kerry is superb in it.  My top picks to play Diana Bishop so far are Scarlett and Kerry.  My ONLY pick for Matthew Clairmont is the Armitage.

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston


Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson


Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington

UPDATE (9/01/2013) – I now realize the Diana Bishop really has to be white.  If she was black it would alter Matthew and Diana’s experiences when they time travel.  I did not think about that when I first wrote this blog post.  My favorite to play Diana is Mamie Gummer.

A Discovery of Witches

I give this book 4 Stars.


  1. Alana says:

    All good choices I think for Diana Maybe Bridget Regan she so talented. And I think James Mcavoy should be in there somewhere

  2. Grizzabella says:

    What a wonderful website! But I must disagree that the book is too long…I hated when it ended. I couldn’t wait for the next one and read “Shadow of Night” shortly after.
    I actually pictured Richard Armitage in my mind’s eye whilst I was reading the book, although I didn’t know who he was…Witchcraft??? Someone actually suggested Tom Hardy, a fine actor but far too coarse a look for Matthew. Armitage is perfect. Imagine “Gone With the Win. without Clark Gable. Impossible!
    I think your idea of Kerry Washington as Diana is very interesting, but I think she really has to be Caucasian. However, imagine her as Matthew’s sister Louisa! She is in book 2 and I think in book three. A little spice to the mix! I love your idea of Scarlett Johansen for Diana, with all the Europeans in the book, the character has to be American.

    • Xenia says:

      Hi Grizzabella, I recently read ADOW again, and strangely enough I did not think it was too long the second time around and actually breezed through reading it.

      I still love the idea of Kerry Washington playing Diana, but I have since decided that Mamie Gummer is my top choice to her the role. I think you are right, Diana has to be Caucasian. Since Diana and Matthew travel back in time the dynamics of her being black would alter their experiences in the 1500’s. I did not think about that before. I agree that Diana’s character has to be American too, and I hope that Warner Brothers chooses and American actress.

  3. MomSense says:

    I too can only picture Richard Armitage as Matthew and did picture him the whole time I read the book which was long before I heard about the online campaign. For Diana, I keep thinking of either Rachel McAdams or Diane Kruger. I think Rachel McAdams would be my first choice.

  4. Claire Dragoness Baker says:

    Xenia- if you want to discuss the books or anything related feel free to join the AST discussion group on FB- https://www.facebook.com/groups/allsoulstrilogy/ There are 1400+ members from all over the world who love the books and they have inspired international friendships, travel and tours… so please feel free to join us. We at AST discussion group also fully endorse the RA4MC campaign and the Daemons there know they have our full support.

  5. Fernanda says:

    Loved reading your review of this book and I totally agree that Richard is the only actor who could do justice for the role of Matthew Clairmont. I do not necessarily see the actresses you have chosen as Diana Bishop though…I would like to see Emily Blunt in this role, Drew Barrymore, or even Julia Roberts, but whatever Warner Bros does with this movie it just won’t be right without Richard Armitage in the starring role. Posted your blog on two other sites as well…

    • Xenia says:

      I have heard so many names given out for actresses to play Diana Bishop, so we all have our list of favorites. I like Julia Roberts but I can’t picture her as Diana like you do. Julia Roberts is 5’9″ tall so RA would not have to bend down too low…LOL

      I agree that whatever Warner Brothers does it will not be right without Richard Armitage in the starring role. RA was asked while in Australia what he will be working on next and he did say that he cannot discuss it, but his fans would be pleased. I so much hope that he is in discussions to play Clairmont.

      Thank you for sharing my blog information with others.

  6. jeanie says:

    I’m excited to hear your thoughts on Shadow of Night and the audio experience. Enjoy!!! And thanks for the great article. It’s always wonderful to see a familiar world through fresh eyes.

  7. megan@Ashmole782.com says:

    Thanks so much for the very thorough and insightful post about “A Discovery of Witches” and Richard Armitage. I just wrote an article about #RA4MC on our new fansite for “All Soul’s Trilogy” and Deborah Harkness. I’m going to link back to your entry here as a “Must Read.” Kudos!

    • Xenia says:

      You are very welcome. I took great pleasure in writing this blog post, and I am still amazed at the emotions this book brought out in me.

  8. Angela says:

    What a great article and so well illustrated! As a fan of the All Souls Trilogy, I’m so glad that glad you enjoyed A Discovery of Witches, and the bonus is that you can see Richard Armitage as Matthew Clairmont. Buckle your seatbelt for Shadow of Night! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it when you are done!

  9. Val says:

    I hope you enjoy the audio! Jennifer Ikeda does brilliantly. It really cleared up a lot of things in the series (listened while commuting), I read it first…the audio as a supplement was perfect!

  10. Patricia, Baltimore says:

    “The Bodleian library at Oxford University is an important locale in the
    book. I looked it up online and was ecstatic to learn that it is a real
    library at the University and not made up.”

    I found your admission shocking and almost stopped reading the blog. Of course the Bodleian exists!

    I truly don’t want to be unkind, but I must say that I find the idea of Richard Armitage playing the role of a vampire to be complete ridiculous. The vampire and zombie trends in books and films is aimed at a juvenile audience. There are many actors who have built reputations working in this field, so I propose that they carry on with their shallow, flashy work. No doubt, their target demographic will flock to movie theatres and repay, many times over, what studios invest to make these films. But this genre, while entertaining to some, has little merit.

    Richard Armitage has been classically trained and has much more to offer. He is a talented actor with the physical capability of playing action roles, but he also digs deeply into the complexities of each character he portrays. He disappears into his characters, in the tradition of all great actors. As for his being “extremely white”, that’s his DNA. Makeup can produce the same result.

    • Xenia says:

      Hello Patricia,

      No, I did not know that the Bodleian was a real library. Of course know that Oxford has libraries just as any University does, but how would I know that the Bodleian is the actual name and not a made up one? Authors often make up names. Since I actually went to look it up online I will give myself some credit for checking it out and not being completely stupid.

      A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is not aimed at juvenile audiences. It is a book for adults. It was recommended to me by other adults and since reading it, I can say that it is not a book for juveniles. I never read any of the other vampire books that are very popular among teens and young adults because they are not really my cup of tea. I never would have read A Discovery of Witches if it was not highly recommended to me and there was not a movement to have Richard Armitage cast in the role. I wanted to find out what all the hype is about and quite frankly, I am not so rigid in my thoughts that I would never read a book outside of what I normally read. Sometimes thinking outside the box is a good thing. I am very glad that I read A Discovery of Witches and I stand by my support of the Armitage4Clairmont movement.

      I find your remarks about RA being classically trained and having much more to offer than this role a bit elitist. Have you read A Discovery of Witches? In my humble opinion Matthew Clairmont is a much more interesting character than Thorin Oakenshield. Matthew Clairmont is way above average in intelligence and doesn’t run around roaring at the top of his lungs all the time with a weapon in his hand. Matthew is a professor. Since he has lived for thousands of years MC rubbed elbows with the likes of Isaac Newton and other notables throughout history. There is substance to Matthew Clairmont and many layers to peel off as you read the book. The fact that MC is also handsome, sexy and romantic is simply icing on the cake. When Matthew falls in love it is serious and he does not take it lightly. MC is classy and regal. IMHO if Richard Armitage played Matthew Clairmont it would be a step UP from many of his past roles. RA has already acted in his share of crap films just to get work. Yes, Richard Armiatge loves to dig deeply into his characters and he will have plenty of digging to do with Matthew Clairmont. I have not seen any of the other vampire movies or read the books, but A Discovery of Witches has plenty of merit, as well as being entertaining. Not everyone thinks so though; I am aware of that. I read reviews by people who thought this book was completely boring, but for the most part it is well received and many adults love it.

      When I mentioned RA being extremely white in those photos I was referring to the lighting, not the fact that Richard is white in his DNA. Even black actors can look washed out in photos because of the lighting and as you mentioned the makeup used. Often makeup that goes on an actors face is lighter than their skin tone. Of course I did not go into detail about this in my post so thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain further.

      I am always appreciative of anyone who stops by Collar City Brownstone and you are included in that. However, please remember that my blog is not about pleasing other people and I certainly do not want people to read my blog if it is not to their liking or if they think I am stupid. Collar City Brownstone is basically my personal online journal. My views and thoughts are not always going to be in agreement with others, but I stand by what I express here. Some people may not like how I word my thoughts, but I do try to be sensitive to others and not deliberately offend anyone. If I am clueless about something I am going to be honest about it and I will not allow anyone to put me down for it. Before I read A Discovery of Witches I had no idea that one of the libraries at Oxford is called Bodleian. Now I know about the Bodleian and I am even more enriched in knowledge.

      Everyone who stops by to comment does not have to agree with me. I do welcome all views. I just would like for people not to make judgement calls because I am just learning about something.

      Thank you very much for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

    • Val says:

      I find it ironic that you’ve pointed out the ignorance of the blog author, while lumping “A Discovery of Witches” in with your view of this particular genre. The book is many things, but no one who has read it can say truthfully that the book/story is “juvenile”. I’ve personally watched people have whole new worlds opened up to them because of this series. I knew of Oxford and Cambridge Universities. I never knew what their libraries were called (and why would I, before now?) I do now. —>because this book has made me interested.

      Matthew Clairmont is/was many things. One of them *happens* to be a vampire. He is a very complex character and Richard Armitage is one of the handful of actors that has the chops to pull it off. The fact that he is classically trained makes him even more appealing for the role besides his physical traits.

      I find RA fans very possessive of him, and I understand why (I am a huge fan). But if he’s offered the role he can always say “no” if its not right for him and/or his career. I just hope he’s given the offer

      • Xenia says:

        A Discovery of Witches is definitely not for juveniles. Many adults are finding it too tedious to read through. I found much it very scholarly and that is why in my post I wrote that it sometimes reads like a college history textbook. I didn’t mind it though. I took it slow so that I could really absorb it. I would actually read this book again.

        • Val says:

          lol!!! I’m embarrassed to share how many times I go back to the book when I’m curious about something mentioned in there! It definitely was a slow-starter. By the time Hamish showed up though, I was hooked. 🙂

    • jeanie says:

      It’s clear from your comments that you have not actually read the books and preferred to generalize. The books delve deep into history and that informs and influences the character of Matthew Clairmont. He is effectively several characters rolled into one – an urbane, sophisticated man of science and letters, whose friends include Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh, a Renaissance prince who lived through the Crusades, and devout Catholic who just happens to be a 1500 year old vampire. A Prince of France with a poet’s heart and a relentless killer crippled by remorse. This isn’t one of you daughter’s Twilight vampires.

    • Angela says:

      I don’t find it unkind that you think that Richard Armitage playing the role of a vampire is completely ridiculous (although I do find it rigid that you have a one dimensional stereotype in your head without having the inclination to delve further into A Discovery of Witches or Matthew Clairmont based on a pre-conceived notion). What I do find unkind is that you would blast the author of this article with your “I found your admission shocking and almost stopped reading the blog. Of course the Bodleian exists.” comment. Kudos to anyone who reads, learns something new and thirsts for more knowledge. That is precisely an underlying mission of the author, Deborah Harkness. She has written a beautiful story with complex multidimensional supernatural creatures, yes, and it so rich with prominent historical figures and facts, it compels the reader to WANT to learn more. It is a gripping story that weaves in history and fills in historical gaps with fiction. If reading (and in turn learning more) about Charles Darwin, the Battle of Acre, The Thirty Years’ War, Abelard, French and English politics since the time of the Crusades, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Rudolphine Prague, etc., etc., etc. isn’t your cup of tea then so be it. It is most definitely not a casual read for a “juvenile” or young adult audience. I am neither the former nor the latter, and I was enthralled with both books that have been released thus far in the trilogy. With all of that said, I believe that Richard Armitage is perfectly suited to play the lead role, Matthew Clairmont, in such a story not only because of the character’s depth and complex nature but also because of Armitage’s classical training, his superior acting capabilities and consequently because of his own personal interests. My personal interest aside, I hope that he is offered the role of Matthew Clairmont and that he makes a decision that best suits his career and him.

    • Sassypants says:

      Patricia, your comments are… interesting. I am well-read and highly educated and I didn’t know about the Bodleian. Shocking? I never saw it that way. To me, lack of knowledge is not what is shocking; willful ignorance is. I think it’s fantastic that this book has inspired the blogger to do research, to learn, to expand her knowledge. That’s certainly been my experience with the book, too. As well, I am middle-aged, and while I have not read Twilight or Harry Potter, I have inhaled both of Harkness’ books. I am attracted by the story, the characters (vampires, witches, daemons, humans, all kinds), and the details. These are not lightweight books, nor are they juvenile. Lastly, Richard Armitage can play whatever roles he likes. I will leave the choice up to him. Meanwhile, I will enjoy picturing his “extremely white” face as Matthew. Thank you, Collar City Brownstone, for a great blog post.
      ps. I would LOVE to see more Kerry Washington, in any role, at any time. She is brilliant.

      • Xenia says:

        I agree….Kerry Washington is brilliant! Of all the actresses that I think would be great as Diana Bishop, Kerry is on the top of my list. I may have to start a Kerry4DianaBishop facebook page…LOL

    • Michelle Ginnelly says:

      A classically trained actor is exactly Matthew. Echo previous posts Matthew is an extremely complex intelligent educated character with many depths of personality. The portrayal of this character will require an educated strong actor to bring him to life.
      The book is filled with historical references, clever hints and clues and fascinating extracts of information to make you delve further.
      Matthew is not just a romantic figure and fantastical vampire but like many other characters in these books is also an actual historical figure.
      The Bodleian is a fascinating library and I’m so glad the author of this blog has discovered it thanks to these books.

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