Sunday, August 2

"The Eyre Affair" - Jasper Fforde

"Meet Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, fear or boyfriend.
There is another 1985, where London's criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary market, and Thursday Next is on the trail of the new crime wave's Mr Big.
Acheron Hades has been kidnapping characters from works of fiction and holding them to ransom. Jane Eyre is gone. Missing.
Thursday sets out to find a way into the book to repair the damage. But solving crimes against literature isn't easy when you also have to find time to halt the Crimean War, persuade the man you love to marry you, and figure out who really wrote Shakespeare's plays.
Perhaps today just isn't going to be Thursday's day. Join her on a truly breathtaking adventure, and find out for yourself. Fiction will never be the same again..."

I got tonsillitis while reading this book. I don't think this was actually caused by the book though, so don't worry, you'll probably be able to read it without becoming ill. However sitting up in bed for an entire day with a crazy fever allowed me to get through quite a sizeable chunk of this book in a short amount of time, which turned out to be a good thing.
This is one of the most bizarre books I have ever read, and trying to describe it without sounding completely delirious is quite a challenge. I mean, how would the ordinary person respond to a book description like this:
"Well, it's like a futuristic story...but set in 1985, in Britain...and people have pet dodos and stuff. And there's this big hierarchial law enforcement system that's divided into groups, according to what they deal with, like terrorism and stuff...and the main character in this book is a LiteraTec, meaning she works with any kind of literary crime, like people messing with important literary works etc. Oh, and her name is Thursday Next. They all have weird names in this book. There's another character called Jack Schitt. Anyway, some people can travel in time too, and the big villain of the story is trying to alter the original manuscripts of some important works, so that by altering the originals, all the copies of that work in the rest of the world get affected too...and Thursday Next has to try and stop him...and...yeah. It's kind of strange."
I swear, the author must be either a creative genius or a raving lunatic to have come up with most of the ideas in The Eyre Affair. It's just so 'out-there' and original, and with a deep undercurrent of absurdist whimsical humour throughout (the descriptions of the pet dodos made me smile, in particular). I can see how it's one of those books that would really divide people's opinions - you either love it or hate it. I belong to the former category.
However, there were a couple of things that I didn't like quite so much. First, the title implies that the book is based on (or at least makes a lot of references to) Jane Eyre, which is why I read this straight after reading Jane Eyre. However, references to Bronte's most famous work make up just a small (albeit significant) part of the story, and it doesn't even get to the 'Jane Eyre has been kidnapped' part until the last few chapters, so it doesn't fully live up to the implications its title. Also, there seemed to be a lot of different characters, and for a while I had a bit of trouble remembering who was who and what they did, etc. The weird names didn't help in this matter, occasionally detracting from the flow of the story (eg, you'd meet another weird name, and then you'd be thinking "Huh. 'Filbert Snood'? What kind of a name is FILBERT SNOOD?" for a while, rather than concentrating on the story.)
Or maybe that's because I was feverish.
At least this book provided something interesting to do!

RATING: On the whole, it was a very enjoyable, quirky read - and certainly very unique. However, despite its charm, I don't think I'd feel like reading it again, so I'm giving it a comfortable 3 STARS

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