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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars


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on 27 October 2003
Lost in a Good Book is the next adventure in the saga of Thursday Next, intrepid literary detective. Fforde takes the reader on another exploration of great literature, but makes it accessible even to the readers who haven't really read any of them. This book is an excellent addition to the mythos. It's a fast-paced romp that will leave you smiling and intrigued at the same time.
Fforde takes the world that he created in The Eyre Affair and adds even more to it. In fact, he creates an entire fictional world beneath the "reality" that Thursday lives in. Characters from literature can travel to the real world, or to other books. An entire infrastructure of literary characters is charged with defending literature against evil-doers. The Jurisfiction organization, centered in the Great Library where every book (even books that only potentially existed) is housed, fights against everything from vicious creatures that eat vocabulary to Bowdlerisers, who travel through fiction trying to eliminate obscenity and profanity from it. In her travels, Thursday becomes the apprentice to Miss Havisham, from Great Expectations, a master book-jumper. All of this is in an attempt to learn how to get into "The Raven" and save her husband. Once again, I have to credit Fforde's imagination. There are so many cool concepts in this book that I won't give you any more. It would spoil some of the fun.
Also like the first book, this is a triumph of prose and imagery over character, as most of the characters don't have a lot of depth to them. They are mostly part of the joke, or part of the scenery. Thursday is one exception to this, and Miss Havisham is the other. Havisham is a wonderful character, taking what Dickens created and adding to it. It's very interesting to see Havisham interacting with Pip and Estella as part of the book, and then when the scenes switches to a new chapter and away from her, she becomes even more animated. These characters know that they are characters in a book, they speak their lines and do their bit, and then they go off to live their own life. Every chapter adds more and more to Fforde's world.
One way in which this is different from the first book, however, is that Fforde doesn't concentrate as much in the alternate reality that Thursday lives in. We get an update on how things are going (the Crimean War peace talks, for one thing), but for the most part, everything takes place either in the books themselves, or in the real world but with lots of literary characters bumbling about. For example, Havisham is a hoot when she gets behind the wheel of a car. If you can imagine an 18th century spinster with a lead foot, you will get the picture. It's hilarious to see, and to read about. I constantly found myself marveling at what Fforde was producing, and didn't notice that the characters were kind of plot devices.
However, once again, the writing is wonderful. Fforde has a very smooth style that almost feels literary. It's almost the perfect mix between classic literature and today's fiction. Part of that is helped by the other fictional characters being around (most of them being from classical literature anyway), but a lot of it is the prose itself. The plot is interesting in itself and there are some godawful puns (those are the best kind). Some of the events in the novel seem to come out of left field, but everything ultimately has a good reason for happening, which is nice. A couple of times I groaned at how something was resolved, thinking it looked too much like writer's fiat, but then something else happened that explained exactly why that resolution occurred. Considering how twisty the book can get at times, that's no mean feat.
I greatly enjoyed this novel, though not quite as much as the first. I'm not sure why that is, because it seems just as good as the first one. Maybe I would have liked a little more real-world action. In the first book, I reveled in the scenes like the Rocky Horror Picture Show-style rendition of Richard III. Those sorts of details were missing in this one (though the beginning, when Thursday goes on the talk show, is a complete scream). There were a couple of seemingly useless items. There's no reason that I can see for the mammoths to be around, other than as interesting scenery. In a book that's full of imagery, that's not usually a bad thing, but this time it seemed like they would have a purpose, and then they didn't.
Fforde has shown, yet again, that he is a master at this sort of thing. He uses wonderful language, interesting images, and a great plot. Don't pick up this book for the wonderful characters, though. Fforde concentrates more on making the characters do interesting things than in actually making them interesting themselves. Except for Thursday, of course. She is the ultimate, and I love her to death. You also don't have to be afraid of not having read classic fiction and thus not being able to understand the book. While I'm sure it would be enhanced if you are familiar with it, it's not a necessity to get most of the jokes. All in all, I really felt like I was Lost in a Good Book.
David Roy
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on 19 September 2017
Love these books. I wasn't sure if they were going to be my cup of tea but now I'm hooked and have bought all 7 of the Thursday Next series. I enjoy 'a bit' of sci-fi, but don't really do murder mystery or detective novels at all (I generally guess who the culprit is well before the end) but these tick all the 'entertainment in a book' boxes for me: very funny, intelligent and witty; hugely imaginative plots and ideas; very well written. I can see why some people get a little irritated by the frequent references to classic novels and writers but I feel that this adds to the charm and character of Jasper Fforde's Next series.
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on 27 August 2002
THe Eyre Affair was proclaimed by 'Time Out' as the birth of a cult. The other reviews of 'Lost In A Good Book' (LIAGB) that I've read have all come from people who had read that book first, and were part of the cult. I must confess that I was ignorant of 'The Erye Affair', had not been killing time waiting for a sequel, and indeed actually picked up the wrong book entirely by accident.
Having bought the wrong book, I found myself lost in a brilliant one. My tea went cold, my lava lamp melted, my boss sacked me for missing work, and my hamster paused on its wheel as it noticed a stillness come over my body as I surrendered myself to a new form of my own world. Indeed I appeared to have jumped into LIAGB in exactly the same way as the heroine, Thursday Next, is able to do.
If this makes not even remote sense then help is at hand. Read 'The Eyre Affair' first. Trying to enter the 'Nextian Universe' cold is a bit of a struggle unless your mind can take lots of weird stuff in quick order. To be honest I coped, but didn't really start to get the hang of Fforde's strange world until about 200 pages in, as most of the explanation that would make LIAGB a stand alone masterpiece is in its prequel.
This is no bad thing, as it forces you to buy both - and both are worth the investment. Having said this LIAGB is the better of the two, the characters have more complex back stories, and there is a freedom for the book to romp along that only comes with an established cast.
A cheap way of reviewing this book would be to say 'Dirk Gently with knobs on', but the treatment of this world is different, and Literature replaces Science, at least in terms of inspiraton. Even the technologies of this alternative view owe more to science fiction than to science fact.
The quality of the writing is never more apparent than when characters and set-pieces from other novels are allowed to do their own thing. Miss Havisham from 'Great Expectations' as a rally driver, anyone? Perhaps the best evidence of this is in the send up of Kafka's 'Trial', which carries the tragic absurdity of the original into a new, comic level.
In short this book is inventive and tricky. It is easy to call it 'Crime', but it's a detective story played for laughs: fast and loose with it's own genre and any other it dares to trample across. Not just a worthy sequel, but a book standing proud and tall on its prequel, this book is a must for anyone fancying something entirely different.
But read 'The Erye Affair' first, won't you?
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This is the second in the Thursday Next series of books, after The Eyre Affair. This time Thursday's husband, Landen, has been eradicated and Thursday has to try and find a way to get him back.

Jasper Fforde is such a clever writer. His plays on words, the way he brings well known fiction to life in such an inventive way and his cunning plots make his work a pleasure to read. I was engrossed in this book from start to finish. I've been in a bit of an alternate world for a few days but I've come back down to earth with a bang. This is story-telling at its best and now I've got The Well of Lost Plots to look forward to.
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on 21 September 2016
Superb satire and a lovely continuation to The Eyre Affair. Interesting to see the contrast between the world depicted in books vs the real world from the inside, so to speak.
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on 28 August 2017
My daughter gave me "The Eyre Affair" for my birthday, which I loved, so I brought a copy of "Lost in a Good Book". Beautifully written and wonderfully oblique. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
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on 24 July 2017
Loved the first Thursday Next book so was really keen to order the second. Better than expected condition from this seller. Really excellent!!!
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on 9 November 2013
Very entertaining and very readable, read The Eyre Affair first, though. It's inventive and amusing and keeps you wondering. This is my kind of story. Loved every minute.
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on 15 December 2013
another good book not much else I can say if u like the author u will love this book and read it again
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on 13 August 2017
Yet another fantastically clever book from Jasper Fforde. I love Mycroft's inventions! I cannot wait to read the next one!
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