on 17 November 2006
I first heard about Jasper Fforde through an article in The Sunday Telegraph, so I bought one of his books as a present for a friend. She absolutely loved it and raved about it for ages, so I had to borrow it from her, and I'm so glad I did.
The Eyre Affair is one of the most original books I have read, if not the most original. Fforde really excels at creating a skewed world where things are similar to the real world, but also completely and utterly different. Thursday Next is a Literary Detective who must defeat the evil Acheron Hades scheme to hold Britain to ransom for Jane Eyre, who he has kidnapped from her book. The book is very funny, combining high- and low-brow humour in a way reminiscent of Monty Python. It also helps to have just a little knowledge of English literature!
on 5 August 2006
At last, a readable, enjoyable, female detective!
It always annoys me that there aren't enough well written women detectives in fiction, so when I saw this one on offer, I figured, what the Hell, I've read worse books in my time, might as well give this a go. And boy and I glad I did!
Thursday Next is one of the most alive characters I've read in a long time. This representation of Rochester - as unexpected as it was - had me going back to a version of `Jane Eyre' that I brought years ago. So I checked the references in `The Eyre Affair' with `Jane Eyre' and straight away after read `Jane Eyre' for the fist time in my life - two good books for the price of one.
The story twists and turns, but never fails to amuse, the covert, and occasionally obvious, cross-references brought out some real laughs. I loved the idea of the Socialist Republic of Wales, being a conservative in Swansea this really appealed, and no, it doesn't always rain here.
So give it a try, pick up `The Eyre Affair', read and enjoy.
on 31 July 2001
I loved this book. I lost sleep in order to read it (probably my ultimate accolade for a book). From the first page it all hangs together, despite the fact the alternate 1985 it's set in is so different that you can't take anything for granted. You just have to run with the blank bits in the world view until they get filled in (they do, eventually). The idea of a world where literature is popular culture just appealed to me, finally a book that rewards you for having read some of the classics (I think you'd still enjoy it without that though).
And a heroine who never once worries about her weight.
Its got it all, plot, characters (I'm still not sure how someone with as few appearances an Landon can come across so strongly as a character), jokes (possibly you need a slightly odd sense of humour) and two happy endings. If you need down to earth reality where you know exactly where you stand, this probably isn't the book for you. If you're happy to let reality look after itself for a couple of hours, you should like it.
on 20 September 2005
In order to save your time and money, if you don't like books that require you to suspend your disbelief, don't buy this book. On the other hand, even if you are one of those who generally don't enjoy books that require the reader to use his imagination, you can enormously enjoy this book. So I guess it all comes down to whether or not you are willing to risk it...
The plot is pretty strange. Fforde takes us to a surreal version of Great Britain, in the year 1985. We can recognize some aspects of his world, but not all of them. For example, in the author's world, technology is much more advanced (it is acceptable to clone extinguished animals and to have them as pets), the Crimean War didn't stop and everybody loves literature. It could be said that literature is for them what sports are to us: a national passion. Anyway, in that kind of world, that is already beginning to sound weird (but in a nice way), there is a Special Operations Network that was created in order to "handle policing duties considered either to unusual or too specialized to be tackled by the regular force". Most of the operatives are rather peculiar. There is a saying that explains that more clearly: "If you want to be a SpecOp, act kinda weird...".
Miss Thursday Nexts is a Spec- Op 27 who loves literature and specializes in problems related to literature, like all Spec-ops 27. She is intelligent and capable, strong but also vulnerable, and she was a sense of humor I found delightful. Thursday is more or less bored with her job, due to the fact that she finds it too routinary. After all, how many book forges can you detect before getting bored?. However, something is going to happen that is going to change her ordinary tasks. Someone discovers a way to "jump" into books, and as a result a criminal mastermind has a strange idea: he devices a way to kidnap a character of one of the most beloved books.
From that point onwards, the reader will accompany agent Next in her bizarre investigation. I can guarantee something: you won't be bored. The plot has a high degree of unpredictability, and some characters are not only atypical but also mystifying. As a result, "The Eyre Affair" has a dreamlike quality I consider enchanting and very appealing. You might be puzzled sometimes, but you will relish that feeling.
I would like to highlight the fact that the author makes lots of literary allusions, but that is only to be expected, due to the fact that in Thursday's world literature is extremely important. An small example?: so many people change their names in order to have the name of a famous author, that they need to be also identified with numbers, to avoid confusions. From my point of view, the constant evident or implied references to literature (books and characters) was charming. I probably didn't catch all the allusions, but I caught enough of them in order to be interested and pleased. I don't think you need to be an "expert" in order to enjoy this book. Even if you don't have a high degree of knowledge regarding literature, you are bound to appreciate it... And who knows, you might end up learning a bit, as I did.
Fforde style is eccentric and whimsical, but I loved it. This book was certainly something different, that made me think several times, and laugh a lot. I will continue reading the series, because I value a good book that is original, and Fforde is decidedly capable of writing them. On balance, I highly recommend this book to you. Enjoy it as much as I did !.
on 3 March 2006
Where were you in 1985? On the picket line with Arthur Scargill? Like me going to infants school? Not even born? Well wherever you were I some what suspect you weren't looking after your pet dodo - possible a version 1.8, or fighting the Russians in Crimea or even working in SpecOps, the mysterious government organisation split into a variety of departments.
I'm right aren't I? You weren't doing any of those things were you...
Well that is probably because you weren't in the version of 1985 that Thursday Next occupies where her father works for the time travelling ChronoGuards's and Thursday herself works in SO-27 - literary detective division, which as Thursday herself puts it is "way less glamorous than it sounds". Unlike most of her contemporaries though Thursday is not just a desk jockey, she has seen action in Crimea and carries a whole load of baggage around with her to prove it as a certain Landen can testify too...
However Thursday has slightly more pressing issues. Issues in the shape of world's 3rd most dangerous man - Acheron Hades. A man so dangerous that he cannot be caught on camera, is aware of a persons presence the second they mention his name and can bend the will of all those around him. In normal day to day activities Thursday would have little to do with such an arch villain but she has come across him before and knows what he looks like, not something that you would think would be a problem but remember he cannot be caught on camera...
When SO-5 come calling asking for Thursday's help she is both excited and concerned - she knows how dangerous Acheron can be - does she really want to go hunting for him? When Martin Chuzzlewit goes missing she realises she has to help...
I only read this book on the recommendation of a friend who is really taken with the series but when I next see him I will certainly be thanking him for putting me onto them - this really is fantastically good. It is certainly whimsical, off beat and down right bizarre at times but written with such an imagination that you are completely sucked in to the world that Jasper Fforde creates - you can feel a real affinity with the characters - even characters liberated from other stories!
This is a really promising start; I just hope the next books in the series can hold a candle to it.
Jasper Fforde has a rich imagination that moves in wacky directions, an off-the-wall sense of humor that never quits, and a deep knowledge and love of literature which give shape and substance to this hilarious "thing" he's created. Not really a mystery, sci-fi thriller, satire, or fluffy fantasy, this wild rumpus contains elements of all these but feels like a completely new genre. Fforde combines "real" people from the "historically challenged" world of his plot with characters from classic novels, adding dollops of word play, irony, literary humor, satire--and even a dodo bird--just for spice.
With "real" characters who can stop time or travel back and forth in it, hear their own names (the names here are really terrific!) from 1000 yards away, appear in duplicate before themselves to give advice, travel inside books, and change the outcome of history, the reader journeys through Fforde's looking glass into a different and far more literary universe than the one we know. Thursday Next, a SpecOp-27 in the Literary Detective Division of Special Operations, is looking for Acheron Hades, who has stolen the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and killed one of the characters in it, thereby changing the story forever. Thursday and the Literatecs are trying to prevent him from getting inside Jane Eyre and committing further murders.
If you have not read Jane Eyre recently, your pleasure in this book will be greatly enhanced if you look up a brief plot summary on-line before proceeding too far--the ending of Jane Eyre as we know it is different from the ending of Jane Eyre as Thursday Next knows it, and the differences themselves become a delightful part of this plot. Though some readers seem to feel that the book would benefit from a bit of pruning in order to strengthen its conclusion, that suggestion seems to me to be too much like Acheron Hades changing Martin Chuzzlewit or Jane Eyre--if you do that, something is irreparably lost--and this book is so much fun that I'd hate to lose even a single word! Mary Whipple
Thursday Next has been working on Shakespeare-related literary crimes in London as a Special Operative when she's summoned into a special assignment with a highly classified outfit. It all relates to a run-in she had with a professor while in college. The assignment leaves her literally flat on her back, and after recuperating she's off to return to her hometown to face her past and her future. She's been trying to escape from both since her unit was decimated in a terrible lost skirmish in the Crimea during which her brother was lost, and her relations with the love of her life were terminated.
While there, important manuscripts begin disappearing in unexplained ways and she finds herself in the middle of the investigations. Helped by unexpected interventions from outside this time and dimension, she makes steady progress towards protecting Dickens and Bronte from unpopular bowlderizations.
Talk about crossing genres. Mr. Jasper Fforde literally wrote the book on this subject with The Eyre Affair.
I became interested in this book after reading and being delighted by the brilliant third book in the series, The Well of Lost Plots. Although both books can be easily understood as stand-alone efforts, you will probably be more thrilled by The Well of Lost Plots if you sneak up on it by reading the other two books first.
Ultimately, these books most appeal to those who love literature as readers . . . and for whom classic characters seem like old trusted friends. Those who like science fiction, fantasy, mysteries and adventure stories will be much less pleased. Those aspects are icing on the cake rather than the cake.
To me, The Eyre Affair seems like a literary update and enhancement of Alice in Wonderland with Thursday Next as Alice.
The Britain you will read about in this book differs substantially from the current one. Although the reason is never stated, I inferred that this one that has been influenced by time travelers to the detriment of Britain. The Crimean War has been going on since the 19th century between Britain and Imperial Russia. Wales is not part of Britain and is a people's republic that is not sympathetic to Britain. Literary debates are more important than political ones. Britain has succumbed to the military-industrial complex in ways that are usually ascribed to the U.S.A. Much technology is primitive (such as air travel by dirigibles) while other technology is very advanced (time travel, cloning of extinct animals as pets, and dimension shifting).
Although the book obviously involves Jane Eyre, please realize that the connection is perhaps slighter than the title suggests. The overall themes of the book involve the classic struggles between the light forces of good and the dark forces of evil, against a backdrop of unrequited love.
The satire is layered on with a heavy hand. The names give you a sense of this. One character is named Braxton Hicks . . . and he's just a little jumpy!! One of the villains has a name that will make you chuckle every time you read it. The overall effect is a lot like Voltaire's Candide and occasionally has an element of Rabelais.
Regardless of any temporary drawbacks in the book to your preferences as a reader, the charming moments will easily carry you forward wondering what marvelous writing innovation next awaits you.
Plan to read this one in one sitting. It's hard to put down.
on 25 July 2003
This isnt the kind of book I would normally read, Im not really into fantasy, adventure, culty books - all of which have been used to describe this book. I decided to read it on a whim, being a fan of Jane Eyre, I though Why not? I am so glad that I did, a literary adventure of the highest class. I loved it, its funny, clever, intelligent, well written and damn it a stonking good read! Cant wait to get my hands on Lost in a Good Book and Well of Lost Plots!
on 28 September 2006
This book is great!!!!!!!!
I was given this book as a gift one Christmas by a good friend but sadly I left it on a bookshelf for a few months and then took it on a long plane journey, and what a great choice it was!!! I was totally hooked, be prepared for a gripping well written original and funny story in which anything can happen - people jump in and out of books, time travel, vampires, airships, riots about art and literature,, the British Crimean peninsula, people knocking on doors to convert you to theories about Shakespeare and on it goes. You are constantly surprised. I bought the rest of the series as soon as I got back and have not been disappointed, you wont be either. Buy this book and spread the word.
on 28 November 2001
Don't worry - this isn't a sci-fi / fantasy book as categorised by Amazon. This seemed a bit of a turn off to us, a better category would surely be "wacky crime". When you start reading it, you'll be totally flumoxed, but make sure you persevere beyond chapter 2 - it's well, well worth it. Don't be put off or intimidated by the deluge of literary references, this is a really well-written, clever novel, accessible to all and with something for everyone. Each time you read it, you'll find something new. The characters are strong, visual and appealing so you really warm to them. All in all, it's like nothing you've read before - completely off-the-wall.