We are so often told not to judge a book by its cover- but it often turns out great if you break a rule. Like that fateful day a couple of years ago when I picked up a bright red book because of the dodo on the cover. I reread The Eyre Affair yesterday, it was the perfect day to stay inside with a great book and a cup of hot tea. There are not a lot of bookworms who haven´t enjoyed Jasper Fforde´s Thursday Next series but since this is a bibliophilic book (see challenge here) I still get to review and rave about it!
The scene: Great Britain circa 1985, but a Great Britain where literature has a prominent place in everyday life. For pennies, corner Will-Speak machines will quote Shakespeare; Richard III is performed with audience participation … la Rocky Horror and children swap Henry Fielding bubble-gum cards. In this world where high lit matters, Special Operative Thursday Next (literary detective) seeks to retrieve the stolen manuscript of Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit. The evil Acheron Hades has plans for it: after kidnapping Next’s mad-scientist uncle, Mycroft, and commandeering Mycroft’s invention, the Prose Portal, which enables people to cross into a literary text, he sends a minion into Chuzzlewit to seize and kill a minor character, thus forever changing the novel. Worse is to come. When the manuscript of Jane Eyre, Next’s favorite novel, disappears, and Jane herself is spirited out of the book, Next must pursue Hades inside Charlotte Bronte’s masterpiece. (amazon)
The Eyre Affair has it all: science-fiction, crime, slapstick, drama, literaturary references, word-play, and much more. I think I loved everything about it and all the elements come together nicely in the end (or the rest of the series). The idea of a world in which literature has such a status that readers actually notice when a minor character goes missing and his death raises national outcry, that´s genius. Despite the tons of literary references the plot moves like an action movie with enough special effects to keep up with Star Wars. Apart from a wonderful brainy kick-ass heroine, the endless minor characters are equally fascinating: a time-travelling father, a “mad-scientist uncle”, an evil mastermind, the irreverent brother, a byronic her, etc.
This is a great first book of an amazing series, despite loving this one, my favorite is the third book, The Well of Lost Plots. The boundaries between reality and fiction are very soft in The Eyre Affair, but if you want to know what happens when they dissapear for one person and what really goes on inside the book world, give the other parts a try as well.
While I know most of you have read the Thursday Next series, have any of you ever tried Fforde´s Nursery Crime series? It´s a lot of fun in its own way!