Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I've seen quite a few conflicting thoughts on this book, but I really enjoyed it. I guess this would be considered a Dystopian novel. I know that I would like living in this alternate reality. I can't imagine a world where literature was so important, but I'm really glad that Mr. Fforde did. In Fforde's England there are so many people who change their name to John Milton that they have to start numbering them. There is a whole huge debate about who wrote Shakespeare's works. There are whole societies devoted to the possible opposing views.

Thursday Next is a detective who works in a special ops unit devoted to literature. Things are very different in Thursday's world. Acheron Hades, a man of great and unusual powers, is believed to have stolen an original manuscript of a Charles Dickens book. Although the concern is that Hades will destroy a priceless work of art, what happens is much worse. Hades finds a way to change the book and remove a character.

In Thursday's world people are up in arms over the unfulfilling ending of Jane Eyre. Apparently, the book ends with Jane going to India with her cousin, St. John Rivers and the two of them working side-by-side. I'd be pretty angry about that too. Jane Eyre means a lot to Thursday. As a child she went to the Bronte house and looked at the handwritten original. While she was there, another tourist placed her hand on Thursday's shoulder and she wound up transported into the page displayed, and there she met Edward Rochester.

While trying to take down Acheron Hades and his brother, Styx, there is a shootout leaving everyone dead, and Thursday seriously injured. She was saved by a man who left his handkerchief with her. His monogrammed handkerchief, with his initials E.R. embroidered on it.
The Eyre Affair was the fourth, and final book in my "all things Jane Eyre" phase and it was a great ending. Jasper Fforde captured the Rochester I loved from the original. He was smart and good, with humor and a great sense of responsibility. I'm not sure Jenna Starborn did such a great job with him, but Everett Ravenwood was more likable than the unnamed Rochester character in Wide Sargasso Sea.

Thursday has this great relationship with Rochester, that makes me smile just thinking about it. Fforde even gave Thursday's life parallels to Bronte's story, sometimes even using Bronte's characters in Fforde's alternate 1985 England.

I also enjoyed Fforde's word play. I would not recommend this book on audio, if it is, in fact available. There is a website here that clears up some confusion, helps American readers understand some British jokes and points out key jokes and facts in Fforde's dystopian England. Character names that are word jokes and the thought processes behind them. The bookworms and the inventions of Thursday's uncle are good for a few giggles. I also found Thursday's father, the time traveler with no grasp of history to be fitting with the government in charge.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I can't wait to pick up the next book in the series, Lost in a Good Book. So far there are four Thursday Next books and one, the newest, nursery rhyme mystery. I guess I'll read that one along with Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, since they appear to parallel one another.

I'm probably going to be a little incommunicado for the next week. Between two households of my family moving, finals, the holidays, a seriously overdue term paper and a major mental block, I must get my act together. I hope to be posting regularly again soon and including my 2005 reading list with links to my commentary, my favorites of the year (since that seems to be the trend) and Adrienne's very overdue meme.

Memo to myself: New year's resolution: Get my act together!!!! Uggh.


Bibliophile said...

I liked Lost in a Good Book better than The Eyre Affair. Looking forward to see what you think of it.

sarah cool said...

I enjoyed this review!!! My mom lent me this book, and honestly, I never got around to reading it - but now I am going to track it down at the library and try again!

JoanneMarie Faust said...

I really liked this book. The second one is sitting on my bookshelf, waiting for me to read it. I think books that rely on or refer to other books should have a prerequisite reading/familiarity list.