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Something Rotten (Thursday Next Novels) Paperback – July 26, 2005
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
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“It’s easy to be delighted by a writer who loves books so madly.”
—The New York Times
“Impressive, and arguably Fforde’s best work to date. It is a compliment to the author’s skill and creativity that his humor remains fresh and his central character gains depth.”
—The Denver Post
“More than a little wacky, the novel is packed with screwball details as characters get ‘written’ in and out of the story, hybridized creatures stalk malls and Shakespeare clones start popping up everywhere. With humorous illustrations and curious footnotes sprinkled throughout, Fforde’s latest will have hardcore fans roaring.”
“Prepare to be delighted.”
“Enough furious daft invention to sate [Fforde’s] cult fan base.”
About the Author
Jasper Fforde traded a varied career in the film industry for staring vacantly out of the window and arranging words on a page. He lives and writes in Wales. The Eyre Affair was his first novel in the bestselling series of Thursday Next novels, which includes Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, First Among Sequels, One of Our Thursdays is Missing, and The Woman Who Died A Lot. The series has more than one million copies (and counting) in print. He is also the author of The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear of the Nursery Crime series, Shades of Grey, and books for young readers, including The Last Dragonslayer. Visit jasperfforde.com.
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[page xviii] SpecOps: Short for Special Operations, the governmental departments that deal with anything too rigorous for the ordinary police to handle. Everything from time travel to good taste.
To find out how you did in this short test ask yourself if you chuckled or otherwise found anything remotely funny about the description of SpecOps. If you answered, "Yes" you are a candidate for reading the Thursday Next series of novels and if this one is your first, you should hie yourself over to visit Thursday inside "Jane Eyre" where she shows exceptional good taste by changing the lugubrious ending to the novel. If you answered, "No" because you found nothing funny about the description, you obviously think that ordinary police have good taste and therefore you are grossly unsuited to read this review and should stay away from all Thursday Next novels. Quickly skip to the next review below.
Next, Thursday Next, that is, asks Hamlet if he'd like a coffee drink and his response mirrors what many folks feel when they are confronted with a huge array of coffee choices in a Starbucks or P.J.'s Coffeeshop. You ask a simple question and you get bombarded with an onslaught of words you never heard of before and you are expected to digest all these words and answer rationally within a second.
[page 78] "What is there?"
"Espresso, mocha, latte, white mocha, hot chocolate, decaf, recaf, nocaf, somecaf, extracaf, Goliachino(tm) . . . . what's the matter?"
Hamlet had started to tremble, a look of pain and hopelessness on his face as he stared wild-eyed at the huge choice laid out in front of him.
"To espresso or to latte, that is the question," he muttered, his free will evaporating rapidly. I had asked Hamlet for something he couldn't easily supply: a decision. "Whether `tis tastier on the palate to choose white mocha over plain," he continued in a rapid garble, "or to take a cup to go. Or a mug to stay, or extra cream, or have nothing, and opposing the endless choice, end one's heartache -- "
"Cousin Eddie!" I said sharply. "Cut it out!"
"To froth, to sprinkle, perchance to drink, and in that -- "
Maybe the "something rotten" in England is all the puns which Fforde teases us with. But he likes to have Ffun with the genre that we know and love as fiction, and when he applies himself, something spectacularly outre comes out, such as Thursday Next next begins to have sex with her newly un-eradicated husband, Landen.
[page 279] I was back in time to help Landen scrub the food off Friday, read the boy a story and put him to bed. It wasn't late, but we went to bed ourselves. Tonight there was no shyness or confusion, and we undressed quickly. He pushed me backwards onto the bed and with his fingertips --
Wait!" I cried out.
"I can't concentrate with all those people!"
Landen looked around the empty bedroom. "What people?"
"Those people," I repeated, waving a hand in the general direction of everywhere, "the ones reading us."
Landen stared at me and raised an eyebrow. I felt stupid, then relaxed and gave out a nervous giggle.
"Sorry. I've been living inside fiction for too long; sometimes I get this weird feeling that you, me and everything else are just . . . well, characters in a book or something."
"Plainly, that is ridiculous."
"I know, I know. I'm sorry. Where were we?"
And just here is where you have a decision to make. Let's hope you're better at making them than Hamlet. Look, if you've made it this far through my blurb, chances are that you'll enjoy my full review and also likely that you will find yourself pulled -- as on a rickshaw pulled by a neanderthal -- through all of Fforde's Thursday Next novels. I guarantee you that your trip will be one of delight and fun, every neanderthal step of the way.
My full review can be found in DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#075 by Bobby Matherne
If you like mysteries, Jasper Fforde, references to classic literature, or light satire, I would recommend the Thursday Next novels for you, including this one.
Thursday returns to the real world, accompanied by her two-year-old son Friday, her two dodos (Pickwick and her somewhat aggressive son Alan), and an over-anxious Hamlet who cannot wait to know what the world thinks about him. They all stay in the house of Thursday`s mom, with Lady Emma Hamilton and Otto von Bismarck, while Thursday attempts to get her job as a Litera-Tec back, uneradicate her husband and find reliable child care.
Thursday Next has more than a few surprises in store for her, though. To start with, the previously down on his luck Yorrick Kaine is now Chancellor of England, and he is intent on dictatorship. Secondly, the Goliath Corporation is trying to change to a "faith-based corporate-managed system". And finally, the Seventh Revealment of St. Zvlkx ("Swindon will win the 1988 Super Hoop") must be fulfilled, if the Armageddon is to be avoided. As a result, we get to see a crocket game unlike anything you can imagine :)
Thursday must be careful, though. Someone is trying to kill her, and she has discovered that the famous assassin "the Windowmaker" (no spelling mistakes here) has a contract on her. As if that weren`t enough, she has to keep repeating to everyone that she hasn`t been in prision for the past two years, find a solution for the anti-Danish frenzy that Kaine motivated, discover what on earth is an "ovinator", and win the most important crocket game ever!. Thankfully, she has Hamlet`s "wise" advice: "Pretend to be mad and talk a lot. Then -and this is the most important bit- do nothing at all until you absolutely have to and then make sure everyone dies".
In "Something rotten" we meet again some of our favorite characters, not only from the real world but from the Bookworld too. Who could imagine that merely because Thursday is out of the Bookworld its problems won`t follow her?. You want some examples?. Well, Emperor Zhark seeks her advice on how to scare the author of his books from "killing" him off, and she needs to put to rights "Hamlet", after an unauthorized Book Merger with "The Merry Wives of Windsor" results in "The Merry Wives of Elsinore".
Thursday also has to agree to be the SO-14 Danish Book Seizure Liasion officer in order to get back her job as a Litera-Tec, but she doesn`t exactly perform her duties well, since she arranges with her friends to smuggle illegal Danish books to the Socialist Republic of Wales... Do you need more in order to get interested and read this book?. Well, I suppose that I can also tell you that Thursday gets to meet her personal stalker and future biographer, Millon de Floss, and that she has to solve the mistery of several dead clones of a famous deceased writer :)
On the whole, I believe that this book is as original as the others, and every bit as engaging. I love Fforde`s "Thursday Next" series, and I think that this book is an excellent addition to them, so I highly recommend it to you. Enjoy it!!!.