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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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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.
The blurb compares it to Douglas Adams and P.C. Wodehouse. First off, let me say that I have read both Douglas Adams and P.G. Wodehouse. Either one is a lot easier to follow than Jasper Fforde. Heck, James Joyce is easier to follow and he’s darned near incomprehensible.
But Fforde’s writing has a real charm and despite the confusion, and with a certain amount of discipline I was able to get into the swing of things. It is a “fantasy, science fiction, mystery, satire, romance, thriller” of a book. There is a plot; it is most definitely unique and extremely convoluted. However, it is worth the effort.
In 1985, in a parallel universe, England and Imperial Russia have fought the Crimean War for more than a century. England is still a parliamentary government, pretty much owned by a powerful weapons manufacturing company with a questionable agenda, the Goliath Corporation. Wales is a separate, socialist nation, and for some reason that notion cracked me up.
Thursday Next is an awesome character, but following the plot takes work on the part of the reader. So I resorted to taking notes, which helped me keep things straight in my head. In the course of duty, Thursday gets shot and has to take a new job, where she is forced to team up with the awesomely named Jack Schitt, who really is a…. Never mind.
I recommend this book for people who love a real challenge in their reading material. Enough of the plot holes finally get filled in that there is a resolution to the tale. You are probably wondering why I am saying I enjoyed the pain—and I will tell you:
It is laugh-out-loud, freaking hysterical. The names of his characters and the situations he puts them in are genius. Acheron Hades is evil, Landon Parke-Laine is a jerk, Rochester is awesome, Jack Schitt is a turd and Thursday's eccentric family is a riot. Oh, sure, it is uneven and incredibly random, the story travels all over the place and some things are like the Cheshire Cat’s smile in Alice in Wonderland, but stick with it and after a page or two you won't care because you'll be laughing again.
The whole concept of a world where a criminal master-mind can hold a world hostage through literature really rang my bells. Time-travel, entering into a novel and befriending the characters and changing history by changing the classics of literature--it's a grand idea.
Someone else may not have as much difficulty keeping Thursday's adventures straight as I did. Many people, including my son Dan, love this book with a passion, so I recommend you give it a shot.
I am not sure I will read the next book in the series too soon, however—I nearly quit reading this book several times out of frustration, so I won’t start the next installment until I feel up to putting a lot of effort into reading a book. I will read it--jut not soon. I am giving The Eyre Affair four stars, because it did entertain me, and Fforde introduces some notions that had my mind working long after I put the book down. That, to me, is the mark of great book.
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
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