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The Eyre Affair
What comes to mind when you hear words like: Shakespeare, Dickens, Poe, Marlowe? If what comes to your mind involves time travel, portals into prose, rainbow painted convertibles and a Crimean War that's been going on for over a century, then your brain just might be the sort to enjoy Thursday Next.
In a previous review I mentioned briefly the Thursday Next series of books by Jasper Fforde. Satire, mystery, scifi, comedy—it's all right here in this collection of novels. This is the sort of series that makes me think, "damnit! I wish I had thought of that!!" because it really is just all-around entertaining.
As of today there are four novels in the series, beginning with The Eyre Affair, followed by Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, and Something Rotten. There is a fifth book, Thursday Next: First Among Sequels: A Thursday Next Novel, available for pre-order with a release date of July 19th. I am all over that!
The story begins in 1985. But not the 1985 we're used to, no, this is a 1985 where dodo birds are pets and the Crimean War has been raging between England and Russia for over a century with no end in sight. Thursday Next is basically a literary cop. There are various law enforcement agencies, and she is a LiteraTec in SO-27.
Due to earlier experience with a particular villain named Hades, she is momentarily promoted to SO-5 which is a super secret arm of the law enforcement and no one outside of SO-5 itself knows what they do. Thursday Next, having met Acheron Hades when she was a student can identify him as well as repel his unusual charm and powers of persuasion.
A little more about Thursday. She’s 35 and single, a veteran of the Crimean and pretty anti-war. She has a brother, Joffy, who is a preacher and another brother, Anton, who was killed in action. She lives alone with her pet dodo. Her father is a member of the ChronoGuard which is the time traveling arm of the law enforcement and technically he no longer exists since he went rogue in time. So he jumps about time and drops in from time to time to say hello. Her mother is a little flighty, sort of reminds me of the mother from Bridget Jones.
Okay, so Thursday is in London where she gets involved in trying to nabb Hades and things go wrong and two agents are killed. While Thursday is in the hospital recovering from being shot, she sees herself show up in a strange looking hotrod with a waving man sitting next to her, telling her to move back to Swindon (where she grew up) and take the LiteraTec job there. Then she watched herself disappear. The next day she sees an ad for a job in the paper
After moving, she runs into her former boyfriend who was also in the Crimea with her, but she hasn’t seen him in 10 years. Landon is his name and they had a sticky break up due to his testimony of Thursday’s brother screwing up in the war which resulted in the deaths of pretty much everyone around him. Thursday didn’t take that well, broke up with Landon, and moved to London.
Okay. Keeping up? Her new boss is named Braxton Hicks and there are various other characters with plays on words and phrases twisted and dropped and just all around clever.
The Wall Street Journal said The Eyre Affair combines elements of “Monty Python, Harry Potter, Stephen Hawking, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and also says it’s part “Nancy Drew and part Dirty Harry”. That sums it up fairly succinctly. The Buffy reference comes from another SO department that fights vampires and werewolves. Oh yes, these books have it all.
Thursday also has a brilliant scientist type for an uncle who invents many odd things. His name is Mycroft and he’s created a Prose Portal. I want one. A couple of them actually. This machine enables a person to literally jump into a book or poem and see it from the inside. Talk to Jane Eyre or Edward Rochester, or any other literary character, and even nab them and bring them out into the “real” world.
Which is the problem. Hades has kidnapped Jane Eyre for ransom and the Goliath Corporation, which is what actually runs Great Britain and has since WWII, wants to end the Crimean War by using a weapon that can never work, period.
Unless the imagination of a writer creates a book in which it did work. Get the Prose Portal, jump inside, and pull the weapon out and arm an entire army. Not bad really.
An ever growing government, doing whatever it needs to keep the “peace” of England, with an “ends justify the means” mentality.
And one dysfunctional woman with a wobbly love life and a sassy mouth is fighting them.
This is one of the most creative and clever books I’ve ever come across. The entire series just got me all excited. Could not wait to see what familiar character was going to pop up next and I loved the personalities the author gave to fictional characters. I got a kick reading Miss Haversham from Great Expectations having a thing about racing cars in the real world
There are other clever bits like book worms that get gassy and fart out extra commas and random capitalization and those extra punctuations show up in the paragraphs.
These books are for people who really, really love books and have read lots of them. Also for people who get a giggle out of puns and grammatical play.
As often happens, this author got his groove the more he wrote with a few hiccups here and there, but after reading The Eyre Affair I had to get the other three and devour them upon purchase.
There is so much to find in these books that I guarantee you will be entertained. Pick ‘em up, you won’t be disappointed.
Kristine has combined elements of Monty Python, Harry Potter, Stephen Hawking, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer into her sex life.