Books · reviews

A long affair with “The Eyre Affair” by Jasper Fforde

My apologies folks! I know I’ve been pretty lax in my blog posts the past month. I wish I could say it was because of a new job, or something interesting, but alas it’s mostly due to my own laziness! The only thing I’ve really been up to is working at my almost-but-not-quite-full-time retail job.

SO to make up for my absence, here’s a review! And I promise the next book I’ll review is Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl). 

For now the book I’ll be talking about is the first in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series: The Eyre Affair (Hodder and Staughton, 2001). I’ve had this book sitting on my bookshelf for almost as long as it has been published (I probably bought it in 2004 or 2005), so I’m excited and proud to say I’ve finally finished reading it!

My copy is actually a lot uglier than this one...
My copy is actually a lot uglier than this one…

What’s it about?

In The Eyre Affair, Thursday Next is a government operative who specializes in literary crimes for the SpecOps division. In our universe, this doesn’t sound too exciting, but in Fforde’s alternate universe (in 1985 Britain), literature is taken VERY seriously. When the original manuscript of Charles Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit is stolen, she and her team are called in to solve the crime, but the theft of Martin Chuzzlewit is only the beginning. Soon, characters from the greatest literary works ever known are being plucked from their novels and held for ransom by criminal mastermind Archeron Hades. To stop him, Thursday is going to have to enter Jane Eyre and set things right.

This book reminds me of:

The Doctor Who season 6 episode “River Song’s Wedding”, which also took place in an alternate Britain, was similarly madcap, and featured airships! Well, you’ll see…

Harry Potter (little details, but the sum whole is very different)

What I didn’t like:

Sometimes the jokes were a little heavy-handed. Such as when the character Jack Schitt is introduced. I actually rolled my eyes when I first read his name. Surely, if you’re going to make a joke or pun or whatever out of a characters name, you could be a little LESS obvious.

I thought The Wedding scene at the end was a bit out of place. Trying not to give a lot away, but I thought it didn’t really fit what was going on with the characters emotionally, and was not fulfilling for me as a reader.

What I did like:

The parallel universe. Really, 1985 alternate Britain seems like a lot of fun! For instance, you’re still able to take a blimp/airship from London to Swindon. Wales is a separate nation. Literary extremists go door to door like Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Crimean War has been going on for more than a century, and you can have a dodo for a pet. I don’t know about you, but I really want a dodo.

Dodos
Dodos in Ice Age

The literary goodness. I’ve never read Jane Eyre (I know, I know, I should), but I’ve at least managed to watch one of the countless film adaptations (the most recent one, starring Michael Fassbender). My favorite part of this book is when Thursday gets to go inside the book and meet the characters. Those scenes are so much fun, and make me wish the entire book had taken place inside of Jane Eyre. Alas, our time together was limited.

The final word (sorry this review is really short!)

A super fun book, full of literary references, surprises, wackiness, and humor. I’ve got the sequel lined up to read soon.

Rating:

8/10

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