Title: The Eyre Affair
Author: Jasper Fforde
Page Count/Review Word Count: 392
I picked up The Eyre Affair after two or three different people all recommended it to me over the space of a couple of days. My friends tend to have pretty good taste in books, and so I figured, what the hell? Why not give it a shot?
I’m glad I did – Fforde excels at world-building, and the world that you find yourself getting drawn so easily into is not unlike ours, but also not quite the same. This is a book by a reader for other readers, and there are all sorts of literary references scattered throughout, from the actual story line, which I’ll cover in a second, to the naming of the characters. Mycroft, in particular, was one of my favourites.
Loosely speaking, this book follows the story of literary detective Thursday Next, who finds herself trying to track down a powerful adversary called Hades, before he does too much damage to the world of literature. Hades has stolen the original manuscript to a classic novel, and he’s able to go into the manuscript and change it, with the potential to cause untold amounts of damage.
Now, I’ve never read Jane Eyre, but that didn’t stop me from getting a lot of enjoyment from the novel, and if anything, it’s made me want to go and grab a copy. Unfortunately for Charlotte Brontë, Fforde has continued the series, and I’m more excited about being able to read more of his works than the actual classics that inspired them.
I don’t think I’ve ever actually read a series like this before – it’s hard to explain exactly what it is about Fforde’s writing that marks him apart from his contemporaries, but I suspect that a lot of it is to do with his skills as a world-builder. He’s effectively created a totally believable parallel universe to our own, and it allows him to have a lot of fun with different subplots, all of which eventually come together at the end.
There’s a quote on the cover of the book from Terry Pratchett, which says, “Ingenious – I’ll watch Jasper Fforde nervously.” That quote pretty much sums up the book, and I personally can’t wait to get started on the rest of the series.