My name is Thursday Next. I am a Literary Detective in the Special Operations Network located in Swindon, England. This is a record of what transpired during The Eyre Affair.
What began as an investigation into the impossible theft of the Martin Chuzzlewit manuscript quickly became a case of international importance. Hades Archeron, the second most dangerous man in the world, was not only behind the theft of the manuscript, but he was also seeking a device that would allow him to travel into the book whereby giving him opportunity to kidnap and murder key characters. In a world where literature and the written word is king, this was something that could not go unnoticed.
Ransoms soon appeared as a minor character was stolen from the text, effectively eliminating him from every copy of the book every printed. When the authorities failed to meet his demand Archeron set his sights a little higher: he would steal the original manuscript of Jane Eyre and kidnap one of the worlds beloved icons.
This is a 100% non-serious book, but it had a very profound impact on my view of the world and got me asking a question: what would the world be like if everyone read for fun?
This one question led to others: what would it be like if no one was driven by instant gratification? What would it be like if people cared about books as much as we care about celebrities and movies? I’m sure Jasper Fforde would find all of my existential contemplations hilarious, yet here I sit and continue to contemplate a world where books reign supreme.
It sounds like a utopia, and I don’t say that because of my personal bias. Consider it for a moment; those who read regularly are more likely to do better in school and thus, as we’ve been led to believe from society, more likely to succeed in life. The greatest influences on moral development have come through written recordings (yes, I know those same religious texts have been used to justify many monstrous atrocities, but that is often the result of misguided minds seeking personal gain). Books, whether people choose to see it, have become essential to human existence.
Anyway, let’s get back to the book in question.
The Eyre Affair is a great piece of fantasy/science fiction with exceptional character development and witty humor. It doesn’t make you burst into laughter with every page, but it does make you chuckle, roll your eyes, shake your head, and on occasion laugh-out-loud, which is sometimes even better.
I have read a couple of Fforde’s other books, namely The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear which are mystery humor novels similar to The Eyre Affair, but in a world where nursery rhyme characters are real people. I enjoyed those books, so when I got the opportunity to read this book I, of course, jumped at it. However, I wasn’t confident I would like it; it had been a long time since I had read his work and my reading taste buds are constantly changing. Cracking the spine for the first time thrust me into a world that was peculiar yet captivating. My caution soon became interest as the pages turned and more and more characters congregated on the stage. A couple chapters in I was hooked and thoroughly invested in the plot, glued to the book as my mind exploded in multiple directions, dreaming of books I would want to visit if I lived in such a world.
By the time I finished I was ready to continue reading the rest of Thursday Next’s escapades. She may not be the best detective in the world, but her determination and spontaneity usually get the job done, though not always in the way you would expect, which is what makes her so unique as a character.
That being said, this book is not for everyone. Not because of language or gratuitous content, but because it’s quirky. Fforde writes in a style reminiscent of Douglas Adams (for those of you who don’t recognize this name, Adams is most well known for his novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Feel free to visit my earlier post about it). It’s random and strange, making you appreciate it whether you like it or not.