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08/17/2005 Entry: "EYRE AFFAIR and LOST IN A GOOD BOOK -- Stop at one? (Rebekah)"

The Eyre Affair

I recently finished THE EYRE AFFAIR by Jasper Fforde. Wonderful! It's an extremely hard to describe book, containing elements of Science-Fantasy, Alternate History, Police Procedural, Romance, Horror, Literary Criticism, and on. Fforde also plays with the nature of reading and bookwriting which creates a sort of looping metastory, but don't worry - it's not as slow-going as that sounds. The world is one where literature is popular culture -- Bronte and Browning are like our rock stars, wars happen between Surrealists and Non-surrealists, and every Friday night the local theater puts on Shakespeare's Richard III with actors drawn from the audience because everyone comes costumed and knows the lines by heart.

The protagonist is a woman named Thursday Next who is a veteran of the Crimean War (still going on in 1985), owns a dodo (cloned out of extinction), and works in a specialized police department that investigates the extremely lucrative business of literary fraud. Her father was/is a member of police squad who specialize in time travel anomalies, but got prevented from being born when he went rogue. This doesn't stop him from regularly popping up in Thursday's life.

The plot is about someone who can enter fiction -its own bounded reality- and kill favorite characters thereby altering all copies of the book. This person then kidnaps Jane Eyre and holds her hostage. One thing that bugged me a lot -- I listened to this as an audio book, so the cuteness behind the antagonist's name "Jack Schitt" was just annoying.

The romance is between Thursday and an old war-comrade named Landen. Ten years ago when they were fighting together in Crimea, they were engaged. They broke up when Landen testified in tribunal that Thursday's brother caused a military disaster ("The Charge of the Light (Armor) Brigade"). She meets him again ten years later but still can't forgive him. Spending some time with Jane Eyre's Rochester convinces Thursday to try again. There is a great scene where literary characters help Thursday break up Landen's wedding to someone else.

EYRE AFFAIR is one of those books that the only way to really describe it is to hand the person a copy of the book. :) Highly recommended if you're looking for something fun, unusual and clever. .--Rebekah

***

Lost in a Good Book
I enjoyed EYRE AFFAIR so much that I ran out and got LOST IN A GOOD BOOK, the sequel. I actually wish I hadn't! I enjoyed LOST IN A GOOD BOOK a great deal all the way up until the end. It had the same sort of odd reality-bending fun. At the beginning of the book, Thursday is getting settled into married life with Landen, expecting a baby, and dealing with her unintentional fame from saving Jane Eyre. We are introduced to the special operatives of Jurisfiction, people who protect fiction from the inside of the works. Thursday is apprenticed to Miss Havisham from Dickens's GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Thursday travels to the Great Library and meets the Cheshire Cat (now renamed the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat) and learns how to move into books herself. She also manages to save all life on Earth from turning into a pink goo. Problem is that Landen gets eradicated - erased from all memory but Thursday's - as a blackmail device. By the end of LOST IN A GOOD BOOK, Landen still hasn't been rescued. Thursday is still wanted by the police and multiple old enemies. Thursday has to go off into hiding in an unpublished work until her kid is born and ... there we are left. I read some about Fforde's next few books, but it sounds like Landen never really gets rescued! A big bummer after the hea of the first book. --Rebekah

-- THE EYRE AFFAIR at Amazon
-- LOST IN A GOOD BOOK at Amazon

Replies: 5 Comments

Landen is rescued in Something Rotten, and it's totally awesome!

Posted by Beka @ 08/17/2005 03:07 PM ET


Have to agree -- totally awesome series! Long Live Emperor Zhark!!! The romance in this series isn't actually that strong, but it's sweet. They're riotous fun, though. Definitely a must-read for book lovers.

Posted by Ann @ 08/18/2005 02:27 PM ET


I've been assured by many that Landen is indeed rescued in book 4. Guess I'm forced to read for myself! ;)

Posted by Rebekah @ 08/20/2005 01:39 AM ET


Like you, I got stuck in the 2nd book. I do have the 3rd one (found it on clearance) and thought I'd give it a try, but now maybe I'll skip to the 4th. ;)

Posted by SK @ 08/24/2005 03:39 PM ET


Definitely plow your way through The Well of Lost Plots. Something Rotten is almost as good as the Eyre Affair (tho' Hamlet is no substitute for Mr. Rochester), but if you haven't read the other two you might miss a lot of the inside jokes(and Fforde sets up his new Jack Spratt series, which I didn't catch the first time through).
As to those sometimes annoying names--I love them. I don't sound out names when I read, so I missed a lot of the not-so-obvious name puns the first time through. Schitt-Hawse and Braxton Hicks are pretty obvious, but when I finally caught Dedmen and Walken (the first two SO-5 men to tail Thursday), then I really started to look for them. What a hoot!

Posted by nessili @ 09/02/2005 08:58 PM ET



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