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