The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1)
By: Jasper Fforde
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy
There is another 1985, where London’s criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary market, and Thursday Next is on the trail of the new crime wave’s Mr Big.
Acheron Hades has been kidnapping characters from works of fiction and holding them to ransom. Jane Eyre is gone. Missing.
Thursday sets out to find a way into the book to repair the damage. But solving crimes against literature isn’t easy when you also have to find time to halt the Crimean War, persuade the man you love to marry you, and figure out who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays.
Perhaps today just isn’t going to be Thursday’s day. Join her on a truly breathtaking adventure, and find out for yourself. Fiction will never be the same again…
Oh man, this book has been on my want-to-read list for sooooooooooooo long; so long, in fact, that it’s on the first page of said list on GoodReads…which means it’s pretty much been there since I started using GR back in 2008 O_O I only got around to picking up the book this year, which is pretty insane, haha.
I guess you can list this under the “Why didn’t I read this book sooner?!” category. It was such a delight to read. Pretty zany with the mash-up of genres: a mystery, a literary romp, a romance, a satire. Its tone reminded me very much of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, which is a huge bonus in my books as I love both authors 🙂 Not to mention it was just a zany mash-up in general: its setting is rather peculiar with past historic events–namely the first Crimean War–taking place in an alternate late 20th century. There are familiar references to historical events as well as contemporary pop culture but it did take some getting used to (it’s the historian side of me that rankled about it, I swear!) 😛
But it was also such a delight to read because of all the books it mentioned! Definitely a book lover’s delight. Do you need t have read all of the books mentioned–namely classic literature–to enjoy the book? Not really, certainly a general understanding of how Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (review) went would help, but knowing a bit about the references definitely adds to the experience. For example, I love how the debate regarding whether or not a William Shakespeare actually existed and wrote all those plays served as an underlying, ongoing discussion throughout the book. There are also references to Romantic poets and other classic authors…it was fantastic 😀
The story itself was interesting. The mystery itself took a while to flesh out, especially in relation to the classic literature, but the first third of the novel helped set up Acheron Hades–a very formidable baddie, I should mention–and Thursday’s antagonism with him. It also helped set up Thursday’s situation in the SpecOps and her relocation. Thursday was a great character, she’s tough and she’s always on the case and doesn’t give up. She’s also a war veteran struggling with the past as well as a rather complicated (?) love life. So yeah, I was rooting for her all the way through, she was great. The secondary characters in this novel were also great, from Thursday’s rather quirky family to her colleagues at work.
Also: a) a Will Speak machine? (where if you pay the amount the mannequin will recite a random soliloquy from one of Shakespeare’s plays) Yes, please! 😀 and b) a character named Jack Schitt. LMAO.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Eyre Affair. It was an interesting start to a series, introducing a fantastic lead character and a very strange and literary-filled world. It also works nicely as a standalone; there are a few open threads where I can see future installments picking up on but I was satisfied where things ended in this novel. Readers who love books about books and readers who love Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams’ books will want to check this book out 🙂