The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Publication Date: May 1, 2009

Its 1985 and the fictional world is parallel to our own and someone is kidnapping literary characters. Its the job of Thursday Next, occupant of our world but detective in the Literary Detective Division, to find the culprit and stop them before its too late.

 

 

Every book claims to be like the work of a better selling author. They’ll up the ante saying that the work is by a author who is the modern version of the author to whom they’re likened. Usually they could not be less like the author whose name they use to promote themselves. In the case of Fforde, it would be in no way inaccurate to liken him to Douglas Adams. It would also not be inaccurate to say that they are nothing alike. Fforde and Adams share a well defined imagination with a lightness of being. Their worlds are intricate. Fforde is clearly extremely well read. The characters created by others in his story are wholly within character. The description of the fictional world is beautiful and complete.

Thursday Next is a complex character. The Eyre Affair is part time travel and part fantasy. History is rewritten, extinct species are not as extinct as one might think (Thursday has a pet Dodo). Her father can slow time and has been hunted by the Chrono Guard. There is simply too much to outline when it comes to this wonderful character. In the book world, characters play role. Jane Eyre is married to a fictional character not from her own book. There is an incredibly intricate bureaucracy in both the real world and book world and a delicate ecosystem in both. There are bookworms that eat prepositions and poop punctuation. Yes, it’s just crazy, but it works so beautifully well.

The Eyre Affair is a dance. There is chaos and just when you think there could be no resolution to anything it all comes together and things fall into place. Fforde gives a master class in creativity. His world is stunning. Kids trade cards of authors instead of baseball players and whole religions grow up around favorite works of fiction.  Perhaps the “He who shall not be named” bad guy is a little weak but in the end it makes sense. The Eyre Affair is exciting and poignant and there’s a hint of romance but not so much that it distracts from the master world building.

Despite his weak entrance, Archeron Hades is a brilliant bad guy. He is a sophisticated Snidley Whiplash, twirling his mustache and doing bad simply for the joy of the evil act and the satisfaction of a well crafted and executed plan. It;s not just a job for Hades, it’s a calling and he’s determined. Hades is not the only bad guy by a long shot. The Goliath Corporation may not be as innocent as they seem and just might complicate life more than people might like.

Ultimately, Thursday is a Mary Sue for those of us who love books. She travels through storylines and keeps the peace for favorite characters. Who wouldn’t want that job? The Eyre Affair is my Unicorn. It is the perfect book in that its so different than anything you’ll ever pick up that it is like discovered Adams and Pratchett again.

If you like quirky fiction, The Eyre Affair is 100% for you. Pick it up. There are no regrets.

 

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