Eyre Affair

Fforde, Jasper. The Eyre Affair. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.

Reason read: Reason #1 – I was home-home and had finished the two books I brought with me. I was thinking Robert Jordan’s 800+ page behemoth would take much longer, but obviously I forgot I would be in the backseat for 5.5 hours, then on a boat for another hour, and then stuck in a very relaxing vacation on a very relaxing island with lots of time to read…
Reason #2 – October is Crime Prevention Month and since Thursday is a cop, more or less, I thought this would be appropriate. More or less.

So. Picture this: the year is 1985. The Crimean War is still raging and Great Britain is in a reverse time warp. Instead of being behind the times they are way ahead of them. England is a futuristic place where time travel is an everyday occurrence, the most common thing to clone is the resurrected Dodo bird (everyone has them as pets), and visitations to the pages of literature is child’s play. Thursday Next is a Special Operative in literary detection where not much is supposed to happen (it’s supposed to be a desk job after all). Most crimes in involve Byronic forgeries and protests over Shakespeare’s authenticity. That is until a minor character from a Dickens novel is found murdered outside the novel, changing the plot forever. That’s just for starters. When Jane Eyre herself is plucked from Bronte’s original manuscript and the kidnapper threatens to alter Great Britain’s most beloved story, Thursday rises to the challenge to rescue Jane. It’s no small task for the kidnapper is a former professor who once tried to seduce Thursday and seems to have godlike powers. To make matters worse, Thursday’s mind is not 100% on the case as she is distracted by a heartbreaking secret in the form of an ex-lover she can neither escape nor forget.
Fforde writes with cunning intention. Every chapter is riddled with wordplay, puns, literary allusions and trivia. With a names like Thursday Next, Hades Acheron, and Jack Schitt, you can just imagine the possibilities. Even the twins Jeff and Geoff got a giggle out of me. Because I am not up on pop culture I am sure some references went over my head.
One of my favorite scenes is when Thursday and the before mentioned ex-lover attend a performance of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Only this adaptation is more like The Rocky Horror Picture Show than serious theater in the round. The audience participation is hilarious. Another great moment is when Thursday’s uncle is showing Thursday his latest inventions. The bookworms are the best.
My only gripe is when Thursday is first asked to join the hunt to stop her former professor from destroying an original manuscript. Rule #1 is to never think or say the professor’s real name. If you do he can detect your whereabouts, your whole game plan right down to your very next move. After the first attempt to capture him goes horrible awry Rule #1 is abandoned and no one abides by it anymore. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Odd.

Favorite line, “The worms were busy reading a copy of Mansfield Park and were discussing where Sir Thomas got his name from” (p 152).

Author fact: Fforde has one of the most entertaining websites I have seen in a long time. Visit it here.

Book trivia: This is Fforde’s first novel.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapters called “Action Heroines” (p 6), “Companion Reads” (p 64), and “First Novels” (p 88). Also, from More Book Lust only in the chapter called “Brontes Forever” (p 35). As an aside, Pearl suggested reading The Eyre Affair with Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (for obvious reasons), but I already read Jane Eyre and The Eyre Affair for different reasons so it was pointless to read them again with Wide Sargasso Sea.

I have to say, one of the drawbacks to reading anything in Book Lust is that it is going to be old news. I always feel late to the party when I see a best seller with over 500 reviews on LibraryThing. It makes me wonder what I could possibly say that hasn’t already been said.

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