The Eyre Affair - Thursday Next, Bk 1 Author:Jasper Fforde In Jasper Fforde's Great Britain, circa 1985, time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business a... more »s usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Bront?'s novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career.« less
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.
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.
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.
Kerry reviewed The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 7
If character is king, Fforde's literary detective Thursday Next is a Queen. Humorous writing is always at risk of devolving into some long tedious joke that has lost its freshness, think child with new knock-knock joke book.
Main character Thursday Next provides enough cohesion to hold this fantasy world together. With a solid Next, Fforde cuts loose with what turns out to be a rather good story. He keeps the reader asking, what's next, rather than, how much longer.
Adversary Acheron Hades is also well written. He is by his own description not mad, just "differently moralled." And anybody but Next has only two chances of catching him: fat and thin.
As reviews mention, this first-in-a-series book is a humorous action packed mystery/fantasy with non-stop literary references. Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett always comes to mind with such clever off-beat British writing. If you enjoy them, you will enjoy Fforde as well.
Unlike Adams/Pratchett/Tolkien, it is telling BN has this series in literature/fiction and not science fiction/fantasy. Recommended. Knowledge of Jane Eyre not required.
Completely enjoyable read for those of us who like original worlds. I love fantasy and science fiction and odd places that creative minds think up and make real and Jasper Fforde fits the bill entirely. The heroine is interesting with her military service and fits our time with so many young veterans with awful experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and her love is also a vet and an amputee. Just kinda cool to bring characters in with that background but not make it the sum of their existence by any degree. The book is fun to read, the world a little confusing at times but still easy to get into.