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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
This novel might be called "James Bond Meets Harry Potter in the Twilight Zone." In fact, the reader plays "name that literary reference" through most of this zany work, where characters wander around in time from the Crimean War through the present and into the future, and in and out of novels including, of course, Jane Eyre. The narrator, Tuesday Next, is a tough, gun-totin' heart-of-gold heroine with a pet dodo, a true love she has refused to acknowledge and a brilliant, dotty scientist uncle named Mycroft. Her job is to rescue literary characters kidnapped out of books from being wiped off the face of every copy of a work by tracking down and outwitting the purely evil Asheron Hades and Goliath Corporation greedyman Jack Shit. Throughout, discussions of who really wrote Shakespeare's plays abound, along with send-ups of every literary genre from the highest to the lowest brow. Sastre's reading works particularly well because she's good at the straight narrative, while the nature of the book's language makes melodramatic voices for the other bizarre characters. Simultaneous release with the Viking hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 17, 2001).
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
1) My Lit degree was some time ago.Read more
A hoot start to finish. Fforde is the real deal. My compulsion will require
More visits with Tuesday Next.