Monday, 30 January 2012

58/111 - The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I decided recently that I wanted to read the next book in the Thursday Next series, as I’ve really enjoyed reading Jasper Fforde in the past, but about 30 pages into Lost in a Good Book, I discovered that I couldn’t remember anything that happened in The Eyre Affair! So instead of trying to muddle my way through, and even though I tried to read the Wikipedia notes to catch up on the plot, I decided to just read The Eyre Affair for a second time so that I could launch fully into the series.

This series is set in a parallel universe which is for the most part very similar to ours – they have the same great works of literature, however the world is under the thumb of the conglomerate Goliath Corporation, who are a weapons manufacturer supplying the ongoing Crimean War with newer and more deadly weapons.

There are also dozens of departments of Special Operations, from anti-terrorism to vampire and werewolf control. Thursday, the main character of this book, works for SO-27, who are the literary detectives. In this world, works of literature and art are closely guarded commodities, and people are constantly trying to forge and destroy works of art. Your opinion on whether Shakespeare really wrote his plays, or whether it was someone else is as strong as someone’s political opinion, and there are various groups and organisations affiliating themselves with different authors.

In The Eyre Affair, the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit is stolen and someone kills one of the minor characters. The idea is that if you destroy the character from the original manuscript then all other copies of that manuscript are altered forever. Eventually, the villain steals the original copy of Jane Eyre, and holds Jane to ransom, so Thursday must try and stop Jane’s death before the narrative is erased forever. Eventually she enters the text herself and changes the course of the story forever to the ending we know today. In The Eyre Affair, Jane marries John Rivers and moves to India instead of ending up with Rochester like in our world. So Thursday ends up changing the manuscript for the better, in the end!

I really liked this book, it was funny and charming and an interesting premise, especially for someone like me who’s a bit of a bookworm. There were lots of little hidden gems in there, reference-wise, and I’m sure I missed loads of them. One of the other things I really liked was Thursday’s character – she’s a resourceful, independent woman who gets flustered sometimes but has pretty big balls in tough situations. I liked her a lot. There’s a love interest in the novel, but it’s not the main point of the story, which I also appreciated. That's all I have to say for now.

Next: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

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