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The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, February 25, 2003
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From The New Yorker
It's 1985 in England, at least on the calendar; the Crimean War is in its hundred-and-thirty-first year; time travel is nothing new; Japanese tourists slip in and out of Victorian novels; and the literary branch of the special police, led gamely by the beguiling Thursday Next, are pursuing Acheron Hades, who has stolen the manuscript of "Martin Chuzzlewit" and set his sights on kidnapping the character Jane Eyre, a theft that could have disastrous consequences for Brontë lovers who like their story straight. This rambunctious caper could be taken as a warning about what might happen if society considered literature really important—like, say, energy futures or accounting.
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.”
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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.
* 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.
He sort of reminds me of Terry Pratchett, not because he is as good as Mr. Pratchett was, but because of the universe he has created, I think it could be so much better. It is unique, therefore it needs a stronger plot, and more rounded characters.
My two cents.