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The Eyre Affair Hardcover – Large Print, July, 2002
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Penzler Pick, January 2002: When I first heard the premise of this unique mystery, I doubted that a first-time author could pull off a complicated caper involving so many assumptions, not the least of which is a complete suspension of disbelief. Jasper Fforde is not only up to the task, he exceeds all expectations.
Imagine this. Great Britain in 1985 is close to being a police state. The Crimean War has dragged on for more than 130 years and Wales is self-governing. The only recognizable thing about this England is her citizens' enduring love of literature. And the Third Most Wanted criminal, Acheron Hades, is stealing characters from England's cherished literary heritage and holding them for ransom.
Bibliophiles will be enchanted, but not surprised, to learn that stealing a character from a book only changes that one book, but Hades has escalated his thievery. He has begun attacking the original manuscripts, thus changing all copies in print and enraging the reading public. That's why Special Operations Network has a Literary Division, and it is why one of its operatives, Thursday Next, is on the case.
Thursday is utterly delightful. She is vulnerable, smart, and, above all, literate. She has been trying to trace Hades ever since he stole Mr. Quaverley from the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and killed him. You will only remember Mr. Quaverley if you read Martin Chuzzlewit prior to 1985. But now Hades has set his sights on one of the plums of literature, Jane Eyre, and he must be stopped.
How Thursday achieves this and manages to preserve one of the great books of the Western canon makes for delightfully hilarious reading. You do not have to be an English major to be pulled into this story. You'll be rooting for Thursday, Jane, Mr. Rochester--and a familiar ending. --Otto Penzler --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
HSurreal 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. (Jan. 28)Forecast: With a six-city author tour, a well-conceived Web site at www.thursdaynext.com and crossover appeal to Bront fans, this is likely to attract more attention than the usual first genre novel.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
THIS is a world I would love to go to
THIS is a world made amazing by things like:
✘ Cloning kits for extinct species – Thursday has a pet Dodo version 1.2 you know before they started spicing in flamingos and other species.
✘ Bad guys who are somewhat similar to HE-WHO-MUST-NOT-BE-NAMED - "He has powers that are slightly baffling. That’s why we can’t say his name. I call it Rule Number One.” “His name? Why not?” “Because he can hear his own name—even whispered—over a thousand-yard radius, perhaps more. He uses it to sense our presence.”
✘ Genetically sequenced bookworms that have a semi conscience hive mind and eat prepositions and poop out punctuation, more so when they get excited. - "they had just digested a recent meal of prepositions and were happily farting out apostrophes and ampersands; the air was heav'y with th'em&"
✘ An uncle with wondrous and magical inventions in his basement lab including a car with a cameleon paint job, eye screen savers and a machine that takes away your memories....maybe it seems he has forgotten about it.
✘ A world where people don’t talk about what is on the television so much as they debate over who really wrote the works of Shakespeare and there are a good many theories floating around on that one.
✘ Plays that have cult followings like the Rocky Horror Picture show and the audience participates in the entire production.
“When is the winter of our discontent?” “Now,” replied Richard with a cruel smile, “is the winter of our discontent . . .”
“. . . made glorious summer by this son of York,” continued Richard, limping to the side of the stage. On the word “ summer” six hundred people placed sunglasses on and looked up at an imaginary sun.
✘ Thursday also has a father whose face it seems could stop time like literally. - "My father had a face that could stop a clock. I don’t mean that he was ugly or anything; it was a phrase the ChronoGuard used to describe someone who had the power to reduce time to an ultraslow trickle."
This book is for book lovers, like serious book lovers. It has a gazillion little play on words, literary references, and random shout outs to books that it was a fantastic treat for me. It would still be pretty enjoyable if you didn’t know a lot about most of the books mentioned but it is a little more fun if you are in on the hidden gems.
The plot really didn’t start happening until the second half of the book but I was having such a good time with all the fantastical gadgets, references and happenings that I didn’t really care.
However I totally enjoyed myself and liked the little bit of romance, chase of the bad guy and trip through the pages of Jane Eyre. I had a great time reading this and much like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy there are a lot of random happenings that end up leading down a path to the plot eventually. It isn’t something I can read everyday but when in the correct mood it is a wonderful adventure.
This book wraps up nicely so that you could just stop the series here or chose to carry on.
A fantastic mix of fun, drama and eccentricity, coupled with an engaging plot and world premise had me hooked from the very first pages. Some knowledge of literature references is an advantage to get the full benefit of the many in-jokes (and there are many) but not absolutely necessary.
Great fun - can't wait to start on the next book.
It's a weird hybrid of alternate universe (a never ending Crimean War, Jane Eyre married St. John Ribvers), fantasy, time travel, and just zany in general.
The literary allusions are delightful (Richard III Rocky Horror style, I love it) and the way it twists in on itself is entertaining. It moved quickly, and I particularly love the ending.
The jump inside the book part doesn't occupy enough time, but it is nicely done - including the part where the heroine realizes she's made a major mistake.
Looking forward to other books in the series.