August 27, 2014

Review: The Eyre Affair

Source: Amazon (not the copy I'm reviewing)
The Eyre Affair
Thursday Next, Book 1
Jasper Fforde

Published: 2002

Penguin, Hardcover, 374p.
ISBN: 0-670-03064-3

from Large Type book

Thursday Next is a literary detective without equal, fear, or boyfriend.  Thrusday is on the trail of the villainous Acheron Hades who has been kidnapping characters from works of fiction and holding them to ransom.  Jane Eyre has herself been plucked from the novel of the same name, and Thursday must find a way into the book to repair the damage.

She also has to find time to halt the Crimean conflict, persuade a man to marry her, rescue her aunt from a Wordsworth poem and figure out who really wrote Shakespeare's first plays.  Together with a cast of characters that includes her time-travelling father, a pet dodo and Edward Rochester himself, Thursday embarks on an adventure that will take your breath away.

This is the cover of the book that I read from my old library {but I forgot to take a photo, d'oh! } but it makes no difference which edition you read as The Eyre Affair is a fast and funny read no matter the cover.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I first came across this book online.  I hadn't heard of Jasper Fforde, hadn't heard of Thursday Next, and was wondering how this book that sounded so interesting had managed to slip through the fingers of everybody I know!  All fired up, I reserved it from the library, but once I had it in my hands I will admit that I got cold feet.  Will it really be as good as the reviews? Can it live up to my expectations?  So it sat on my bedside table for four weeks.  I had to return it, so the night before it was due I started to read.  I shouldn't have waited so long as the answer to all my questions would have been YES!  The Eyre Affair was such fun.  I flew through it and in just 4 hours I'd devoured the entire book and was left wanting more.

Set in an alternate reality (or if you prefer - a parallel universe) circa 1985, where the Crimean War is still raging, and you too can have the latest extinct species as a pet with the latest DNA Kits, SO-27 LiteraTec Operative, Thursday Next, is about to be shanghied into a case that will drive her to the brink.  

The use of a parallel universe was a great way to explain the very drastic changes in history that Jasper Fforde has used as part of the Thursday Next-verse.  England is a Republic, and people fly in dirigibles - how very Steampunk! - and Goliath Corporation seems to be running the government from the shadows. 

My favourite moments from the book usually involved Thursday.  Such a strong, yet troubled, character.  She has her flaws, but they just make her more interesting. Then there is Pickwick.  How original is it to have a pet Dodo?  I can't remember a book where our heroine has had such a fanciful pet.  Okay, Jayne Castle uses Dust Bunnies, but Dodo's were at least real ;-D  Anyway, Pickwick is Thursday's pet - after meeting registration requirements - who is 12 years old.  A Version 1.2 who has no wings (they didn't get the sequencing right till Version 1.7).

Then there is Thursday's father, the now notorious and rogue Col. Next, who was a member of the timetravelling Chronoguard.  He kept popping into her life - and asking such odd questions - that made sense in the context of the story, but when you first meet him, it's a tad strange.

However it's with the super-villan of the story that Thursday really shines.  Archeron

If you love parallel universes, women sleuths, time-jumping fathers, and plock-plocking pets, then Thursday Next is the series for you.  A great start to what I hope is a unique and fabulous series.  


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