13 member(s) found this review helpful.
Surreal and hilariously funny, this alternate history, the debut novel of British author Fforde, will appeal to lovers of zany genre work (think Douglas Adams) and lovers of classic literature alike. The scene: Great Britain circa 1985, but a Great Britain where literature has a prominent place in everyday life. For pennies, corner Will-Speak machines will quote Shakespeare; Richard III is performed with audience participation … la Rocky Horror and children swap Henry Fielding bubble-gum cards. In this world where high lit matters, Special Operative Thursday Next (literary detective) seeks to retrieve the stolen manuscript of Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit. The evil Acheron Hades has plans for it: after kidnapping Next's mad-scientist uncle, Mycroft, and commandeering Mycroft's invention, the Prose Portal, which enables people to cross into a literary text, he sends a minion into Chuzzlewit to seize and kill a minor character, thus forever changing the novel. Worse is to come. When the manuscript of Jane Eyre, Next's favorite novel, disappears, and Jane herself is spirited out of the book, Next must pursue Hades inside Charlotte Bront‰'s masterpiece. The plethora of oddly named characters can be confusing, and the story's episodic nature means that the action moves forward in fits and starts. The cartoonish characters are either all good or all bad, but the villain's comeuppance is still satisfying. Witty and clever, this literate romp heralds a fun new series set in a wonderfully original world.
12 member(s) found this review helpful.
A very impressive first novel by author Fforde. In his alternate England circa 1985, literature plays an important part. There are animatronic Will-Speak machines that for a few pence quote Shakespeare; Richard III is akin to Rocky Horror complete with audience participation, and the LiteraTec division of the SpecOps stamps out literary crime.
The protagonist Thursday Next is a seasoned LiteraTec. But when she's temporarily promoted to SO-5 status to assist in the capture of her former professor turned Master Criminal, she finds herself in over her head. Master Criminal Hades has discovered a little secret. If he changes events in an original manuscript he can forever alter all future printings. These changes are immediate and permanent unless the original can be restored. When he kidnaps Jane Eyre from the pages of Bronte's manuscript, fans are in an uproar, since the original is written in the first person without Jane there is no story. Thursday and her cohorts jump in to rescue Jane, and restore the beloved novel.
Jasper Fforde has quite an imagination, and an off-the-wall sense of humor that made this book a delight to read. I'm looking forward to the following novels in the series.
10 member(s) found this review helpful.
Imagine a Britain where Winston Churchill never lived past his teen years; a Britain that has been at war with Russia for over a hundred years; a Britain where time travel is practiced; a Britain where literature is as popular as sports or reality shows are in our reality. This is the Britain where Tuesday Next lives. She is an agent for a government agency that solves crimes involving literature. When the evil Acheron Hades begins using a device that can send humans into the world of a poem or a novel, he uses it for his own gain.
For book geeks, The Eyre Affair is a hilarious treat. Jasper Fford's wit is on par with Douglas Adams and his imagination is reminiscent of J. K. Rowling. Many lit references abound in the story, and I'm sure I missed many of them, but the ones I caught were great. The first two/thirds of the story really serve to set up the last third, where Agent Next must rescue Jane Eyre, who has been pulled into our reality by Hades. If the reader has read Jane Eyre, there is probably no need to re-read it for The Eyre Affair, but the reader who has never read Charlotte Bronte's classic, I recommend reading it first the get the full effect.
The Eyre Affair is my favorite new book. It's just so much jolly-good fun.