Review: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next #1)

PAPERBACK; 373 P.
HODDER & STOUGHTON, 2001
SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY

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…

Meet Thursday Next. She’s a 36-year old ex-military from the 100-year-old Crimean war between Russia and England, who is currently working in SpecOps division 27 in London. In short, she’s a literary detective fighting against manuscript forgeries and copyright criminals. Her father is a rogue time traveler, her uncle a scientist with a special interest in bookworms (literally worms), and she is the happy owner of a Dodo v1.2 called Pickwick. And this is not your typical England of the 1980s…

The Eyre Affair is a literary mystery, a hilarious action-filled adventure that does not go easy on you. From the very beginning of the book it constantly throws new things at the reader, whether it be time travelling shenanigans, literature fanatics that have taken into rioting because the opposing school of thought is claiming their hero is daft, question of the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays or simply the fact that there are new literary / political / pop culture references at every turn. For instance, the protagonist goes to see a very peculiar performance of Richard III, which clearly references the Rocky Horror Picture Show audience participation phenomenon. If I had not enjoyed this book as much as I did, I might venture to call it a tad pretentious. The protagonist in The Eyre Affair is a kick-ass female who often shoots first and thinks later. Most of the book rushes her from one job to another – often in the middle of a third – but there is also a subplot about her emotional baggage from the war.

If you cannot already tell, I adored The Eyre Affair. It was extremely entertaining with a clever concept and a challenging writing style. However, there are some issues that forced me to lower my rating. For one, the pacing of the book was a mess. Fforde does not give the reader any moments of contemplation or time to process the previous events, before he throws the protagonist into the next scrape. In addition, the book had way too many ideas and concepts that were merely touched upon and then thrown aside – like funny side notes or inside jokes – causing the overall structure to became very cluttered. If this had been a regular mystery novel, I probably would have thought it was poorly written. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the story within a story aspects of the book very much and I will most definitely be continuing with the series. I’d highly recommend The Eyre Affair for friends of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series as well as to those who enjoy reading fiction within fiction within fiction. NOTE: Please read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë before this unless you want to spoil yourself big time.

4/5 

‘Malin and Sole look after all crimes regarding Shakespeare. … They keep an eye on forgery, illegal dealing and overtly free thespian interpretations. The actor in with them was Graham Huxtable. He was putting on a felonious one-man performance of Twelfth Night. Persistent offender. He’ll be fined and bound over. His Malvolio is truly frightful.’

My review of Lost in a Good Book (#2).

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2 thoughts on “Review: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next #1)

    • You definitely should! The first book left the ending quite open, so I guess it doesn’t really matter if you don’t remember everything from the first book in the series 🙂

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