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The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, February 25, 2003
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
1) My Lit degree was some time ago. I suspect this book would be a desperate thriller for a regular reader of the classics, but the threat of changing the story of books by changing the original, while amusing, may have been lost on me.
2) The bad guy had all kinds of amazing superpowers, but it was unclear to me why or how he became powerful, and in the end he was bad for bad's sake only, which I found tedious.
3) I didn't care much about the time travel / war / family elements, and in many cases didn't completely believe (or maybe understand) their impact on the story. For me, they seemed like a refrain to a popular song that the band plays a few too many times because they need to artificially extend their live set.
I'm planning to try one more, perhaps the most recent book instead, to see if Fforde's other work suits me better.
Thursday Next is a young woman with a past, a present and a future. Sometimes, all within the same page of the book. This very, very clever book by Jasper Fforde was a delight for me to read because he has given us all permission to believe as many impossible things before breakfast as we want. If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, you will get quite a kick out of the fantastic world Fforde has created in 1985 England. If you are a science fiction fan, this fell right into that catagory for me (even without any space aliens involved)because surely none of this is actually possible. Is it? I have seen reviews which say this book is a mystery. There I must disagree. I am a mystery reader and according to my definition, this book does not qualify as a mystery. We know all the bad guys, we know who the villans are immediately. We know who committed all the crimes. Adventure, yes but mystery, no. At least not in my opinion. I also saw it described as a romance. Huumm, don't know if I really agree there either. It was not actually known until the end of the book if Thursday would marry the man of her dreams but I don't think if actually qualified as a romance for me.
I was fascinated by all the historical and literature references. Any reader of classic English fiction will have plenty of knowlege to be able to identify all the books mentioned. If you follow world history though, there you might be slightly confused until you allow Mr Fforde to dictate how his version of history changed the England of the 1980's.
The supporting characters in this book are wonderful. They have been given just as much thought and attention to detail as the main character. I must confess that there are a lot of characters and sometimes I found myself asking, Now who is this? But usually by paying attention to what was happening in the book I could catch back up with no trouble. I absolutely loved meeting Mr. Rochester. Wow, what a treat. But I did think I had lost my mind for a while when everyone was discussing the ending of Jane Eyre and how totally unsatisfactory it was. I kept thinking maybe I had read an unauthorized version since I have not read that particular novel in quite some time. Ultimately, it all was explained by the books ending.
My only criticism is that Thursday Next did seem to have quite a few adventures. I might have liked for some of them to have been saved for another book. But, as I told the person who recommended this book to me (thanks Nick) it is Fforde's book. He is the published, successful author, not me. I'm ready now to travel on in the further adventures of Thursday Next.
I consider it an impossible book to describe to people. The plot goes in so many directions, and what would you even call its genre? Is it sci-fi? Alternate history? Literary? Elements of steampunk? Humor? It's got all of it. And while I don't think it's ever gotten much mainstream attention, I'll often mention it to other librarians, only to have them nod vigorously in agreement. It's just a good book.
It also has a lovely audiobook version, so if you like audiobooks, definitely check that out. The reader is excellent.
Most recent customer reviews
A hoot start to finish. Fforde is the real deal. My compulsion will require
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