Alternative literary realities in The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

You wanna talk about a book that’s hard to summarize?  You got it.  The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde is almost impossible to explain in a few sentences and when you try, it usually ends up making little sense (kind of like trying to explain the last episode of Lost to anyone who has never seen the show).  Basically, all you have to know is that Thursday Next is a literary detective in an alternative reality (circa 1980s) where books are very important and Jane Eyre is seen as a national treasure.  When something terrible happens to Jane Eyre, Thursday must try to solve the crime before it is too late.

Truthfully, I considered abandoning The Eyre Affair about a quarter of the way through because I was very lost and confused.  I also didn’t love Thursday’s voice, it didn’t seem to suit her at all, though I would say she came into it at the end.  But listen to me when I say persevere! because you will be rewarded in the end.  Decoding the mystery of Thursday’s world is all part of the fun in this novel.  The world is strange and wonderful, with every tiny detail planned out perfectly to mirror the world we know, but at the same to completely turn it on its head.  Jasper Fforde is a highly imaginative author and The Eyre Affair is nothing if not original.  It is compared to Harry Potter, but outside of similarly fanatic followers and an alternative England, the comparisons stop there.  Well, they do have one more thing in common — the pure joy of reading them.  The Eyre Affair was so much fun to read, I’m thrilled to continue with this series.

But… yes, there is a but.  You cannot read a book in the Thursday Next series unless you have already read the classic it is based on.  Fortunately I had read Jane Eyre and this book neither ruined the ending for me nor bored me with literary references I did not get.  However, I’ve never read Great Expectations or any of the other books that are featured in the next installment Lost in a Good Book.  I really believe that if you haven’t read the book it is based  on, you will not enjoy the novel as much.  I hope to read Great Expectations soon, so I can continue with Thursday’s world.

If you like books, and you’ve read The  Eyre Affair, and you’re not afraid for stuff to get a little crazy, then I guarantee you this novel is for you.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR

Also reviewed by: English Major Junk Food, Rebecca Reads, Ooh… books!, Trish’s Reading Nook, Jackets & Covers, books i done read.

12 thoughts on “Alternative literary realities in The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

  1. I adored The Eyre Affair and the series, and I’ve never read Jane Eyre. I mean, I know all about Jane Eyre, I’ve just never sat down and actually read it!

  2. I’ve known people who read this book without having read Jane Eyre and they enjoyed it but didn’t get it. One person I know said he wrote this just so he could change the ending of Jane Eyre. I had to explain…

    But I read Lost in Books without every having read Great Expectations and I enjoyed it tremendously. It was far better written than The Eyre Affair and it got right into things right away. There wasn’t that rev-up for a third of the book thing that goes on in Eyre. I really need to get to the third book. I’ve been reading them about once every six months to spread them out and enjoy them. :)

  3. In a similar “perserverence” vein, I would say that you would be well-served by continuing on with the series, because in my mind, The Eyre Affair is the most stand-alone of all the Thursday books, and the next one is where the series in earnest takes off.

    Also, put me down as one of those people who hadn’t read Great Expectations when I read Lost in A Good Book (and still haven’t!) and I still loved the book loads! I think the references that are made to the novel are to the extent that as long as you have a passing familiarity with the book, you’ll get the references. Such is the way with a lot of Fforde’s literary references, I find. So I don’t think you need to feel as though you MUST read Great Expectations (or any other classic) prior to reading Fforde’s books!

  4. Glad I’m not the only one not wanting to start Lost in a Good Book until I’ve read Great Expectations. Sadly, I haven’t been in a Dickensian mood for the last year and the poor thing is collecting dust…

  5. This is such a fun book! I struggled in the beginning as well, but I agree the end is rewarding. I haven’t read the next in the series yet but I’m hoping to do so in the somewhat near future.

  6. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and I’ve mainly held off because I’m concerned that Fforde will not get Jane Eyre right (right being my perception of it in my mind). Do the Jane Eyre characters feature as characters in this book, or are they more peripheral?

  7. I’ve just been revisiting this series (we own them all on audiobook, & I’ve been doing a lot of sewing, which calls for audiobooks I’ve listened to before). They’re so fun!

    By the way, am I hideously late to compliment you on your new look? It’s lovely – nice and clean.

  8. Thanks for your review, especially mentioning that one should persevere because it gets better. I started this book years back but put it down because I was just not getting into it. I think I had similar problems as you with the protagonist’s voice.

  9. This is definitely a series for lovers of mysteries and bad puns (not necessarily in that order); loved the first three. They are just plain fun!

  10. Pingback: Review: The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde « Jenny's Books

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