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The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel Paperback – February 25, 2003
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The Last Agent by Robert Dugoni
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
“Neatly delivers alternate history, Monty Pythonesque comedy skits, Grand Guignol supervillains, thwarted lovers, po-mo intertextuality, political commentary, time travel, vampires, absent-minded inventors, a hard-boiled narrator, and lots, lots more. . . . Suspend your disbelief, find a quiet corner and just surrender to the storytelling voice of the unstoppable, ever-resourceful Thursday Next.”
—The Washington Post
“Fforde’s imaginative novel will satiate readers looking for a Harry Potter-esque tale. . . . The Eyre Affair’s literary wonderland recalls Douglas Adams’s Hitchhikers series, the works of Lewis Carroll and Woody Allen’s The Kugelmass Episode.”
“[Thursday Next is] part Bridget Jones, part Nancy Drew, and part Dirty Harry.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Delightfully clever . . . Filled with clever wordplay, literary allusion and bibliowit, The Eyre Affair combines elements of Monty Python, Harry Potter, Stephen Hawking and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but its quirky charm is all its own.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Jasper Fforde’s first novel, The Eyre Affair, is a spirited sendup of genre fiction—it’s part hardboiled mystery, part time-machine caper—that features a sassy, well-read ‘Special Operative in literary detection’ named Thursday Next, who will put you more in mind of Bridget Jones than Miss Marple. Fforde delivers almost every sentence with a sly wink, and he’s got an easy way with wordplay, trivia, and inside jokes. . . . Fforde’s verve is rarely less than infectious.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Jasper Fforde’s genre-busting, whoppingly imaginative first novel, The Eyre Affair, is packed with literary allusions . . . .Thanks to Fforde’s terrific imagination, this definitely will not be the winter of our discontent.”
—The Miami Herald
“For sheer inventiveness his book is hard to beat. The Eyre Affair is an exuberant mélange of crime, comedy and alternative history.”
“The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde could hardly be more delightful. . . . It takes a bold adventurer to play fast and loose with literature, and that’s what we have in Thursday Next and Fforde.”
“[Fforde] delivers multiple plot twists, rampant literary references and streams of wild metafictional invention in a novel that places literature at the center of the pop-cultural universe. . . . It all adds up to a brainy, cheerfully twisted adventure.”
—Time Out New York
“A blend of suspense and silliness, two parts fantasy (think Alice in Wonderland meet Superman), two parts absurdity (anything by Carl Hiaasen) and one part mystery (Agatha Christie meets Sue Grafton).”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Her name is Next. Thursday Next. And her story is as amusing and intriguing as the summary of her story told within the pages of The Eyre Affair. Next is a literary detective in a world so enamored with the written world that Shakespeare’s Richard III is staged nightly as if it were The Rocky Horror Picture Show . . . . The novel’s writing flows and the imaginative twists and turns in Next’s world are handled smoothly.”
- Lexile Measure : 780L
- Grade Level : 12 and up
- Item Weight : 9.3 ounces
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0142001805
- ISBN-13 : 978-0142001806
- Product Dimensions : 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.72 inches
- Publisher : Penguin Books (February 25, 2003)
- Language: : English
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Best Sellers Rank: #63,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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* Children trading bubble-gum cards of authors, not athletes
* Will-Speak vending machines which quote a bit of Shakespeare for a small price
* A performance of Richard III enacted weekly entirely by attendees
* Discussions, arguments, and downright religious fervor over several issues of literature, perhaps none so strident as those surrounding the true authorship of Shakespeare’s plays
Perhaps the most revealing point of the importance of literature, though, is given by the occupation of the heroine, Thursday Next. She works for Special Operations in England, specifically SpecOps 27, the Literary Detective Division. As part of her duties early on, she assists in the investigation of the theft of a first-edition Charles Dickens book.
The thief becomes evident quickly — Archeron Hades — Thursday’s former college professor, and an almost comically evil bad guy (he does bad things for the sheer joy of them — any monetary advantages are merely ancillary). But the motive is not known at first. As it turns out, one of Hades’ henchmen enters the book, pulls a minor character out of the book, and kills him. As he did this to a first edition, all copies of the book are thereafter irrevocably changed to the omission of that character.
Hades then threatens to start stealing other first editions and killing off major characters, thereby stripping the world of much of its great literature. Much of the remainder of the plot involves Hades’ entrance into *Jane Eyre* and Next’s attempts to foil his schemes and (hopefully) capture him.
In addition to having to chase down Hades, Thursday also has to deal with the Goliath Corporation, which claims to be a benevolent weapons contractor, but in reality, has a financial stranglehold on England. Whether they’re just a pain in the neck or truly one of the bad guys remains to be seen as the book unfolds.
As you can probably tell, it’s hard to classify *The Eyre Affair*. It blends so many genres — literature, mystery, detective, science fiction, fantasy, and humor. Some of the references and humor are fairly Anglo-centric — I only “got” them after some online investigations — but don’t diminish the story that much for the non-UK reader. Often this is seen in characters’ names — apparently Fforde delights in puns and plays on words — such as Thursday’s uncle Mycroft (named after Sherlock Holmes’ brother) or her boss, Braxton Hicks (named after the contractions that occur during pregnancy). Other non-name references come to mind, but they border on spoilers, so I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say that the more well-informed you are, the more you’ll probably enjoy this book. I’d count myself as “not very”, but I still enjoyed *The Eyre Affair* immensely.
It's not science fiction, it's not "fantasy" -- it's a bit as if you were Dorothy in Oz, and instead of getting a peek behind the curtain at the Wizard ("Ignore that man behind the curtain!"), you get to peek behind the curtain of the world of books, seeing the hidden machinery that makes all of literature possible, including literary characters with surprising personal lives during their "time off" (when no one is actively reading their character), crimes against literature (Thursday Next is a Literary Detective), and in later books in the series, marketplaces for lightly-used plot-devices and retired characters.
Fforde has a great sense of humor, and it occurs to me now that the series is a bit like Gulliver's Travels, including a dash here and there of social commentary and political satire. (It's a sad commentary that it takes a surreal, humorous piece of fiction to conceive of a "Common Sense Party" in politics.)
In this volume as in all the subsequent ones, the story and classic British humor are immensely entertaining by themselves, but the more familiar you are with English literary classics, the more of the inside jokes and sly references you'll "get". I probably get about half of them, and that's more than enough to find the stories hilarious and clever. I'm in the U.S., but I've purchased many of the books in their British editions from Amazon UK just to ensure that I get all the delights of Jasper Fforde's wordsmithing without the translations and "improvements" typically added by American publishers.
In recent years Fforde has tried to start other series and story-lines, without as much success as this series -- I really wish he would return to THIS world and bring his wit to bear on more mysteries and more literary genres.
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.
Top reviews from other countries
I’ll persivere and see if the story grows on me but may b the last of this Series for me. Looking forward to the next ”Cronicles “book now
The book follows Thursday Next, a literary detective (LiteraTec) for the mysterious SpecOps, as she chases down the evil and illusive Acheron Hades. After the creation of a machine that allows an individual to blur the boundaries of reality and fiction by making trips into novels, Hades embarks upon a criminal escapade of the worst proportions. Beginning with the theft of the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and the subsequent murder of one of its minor characters (erasing him from the novel altogether), Hades escalates by removing Jane Eyre from her namesake story. Thursday, the only LiteraTec with an ability to withstand Hades' powers of persuasion and influence, must race against time to get Jane back into the novel and ensure that the narrative survives.
So, my verdict. Well, as inadequate a summarising thought as it may seem, this book is just fantastic. Granted, it is not a difficult read and offers no epiphanies or opportunities for introspection. But this is a masterpiece of a different kind. The Eyre Affair is the love-child of the best kinds of parody and satire, executed with a style that harps to Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll. The numerous literary allusions will have enormous appeal for those who believe that literature really is the thing and you will absolutely find yourself laughing out loud throughout. Re-reading The Eyre Affair, I remain astonished at how a book that is unashamedly comic and playful could be simultaneously so intelligent. This book is a huge amount of fun. Throw in one of the most capable female heroines and you have a novel well worth reading. That it carries off first-person narration so effortlessly (something that I maintain is extremely difficult to do), merely adds to the obvious literary skill demonstrated by its author. Beyond anything, this is a book for lovers of literature.
If that seems crazy enough, then you have to throw in homicidal ex-lecturers trying to kill off literary figures, a mad uncle who has invented a machine that allows you to travel into books (the prose portal), a renegade time-travelling father and an evil world dominating corporation called Goliath. All of this centred around a plot involving Jane Eyre and the theft of the original manuscript.
The writing is breathless, original and brilliant. The author grabs hold of you and drags you along in the mad rush of Thursday's adventures. In any review I cannot do justice to Fforde's creation without spoiling the thrill of reading it for yourself. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a laugh out loud read.