A blog by Ms. Boe
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
The first of seven novels starring the literary crime-fighting, dodo bird-owning Thursday Next, The Eyre Affair will delight book lovers and history buffs alike. Set in an alternate world–in which time travel has led to the prolongment of the Crimean War into the 1980s, the arts are so highly prized that manuscript forgeries are top level crimes, and violent riots break out between Surrealist and Modernist art lovers–this is an English police state, at once recognizable and foreign. Government agencies are prone to corruption and Shakespeare is the uncontestable literary god, but Wales is an independent republic with less than amicable relations with England and no one has ever heard of Winston Churchill.
When the original manuscript of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is stolen, Thursday Next must rescue the text before the novel’s villain, Acheron Hades (seriously, that’s his name), removes Jane from the novel and destroys the narrative as we know it! In order to appreciate this book, you must read Jane Eyre. In Thursday’s world, the novel ends abruptly in a less than satisfying conclusion. As the action unfolds, you realize that Thursday and her fellow characters are inadvertently shaping the narrative into our beloved story.
The novel’s creativity—there’s a machine that allows you to step into a novel or poem! the once extinct dodo is now such a common pet that it’s been taken off the endangered list!—is what makes this book worth reading. The character development and romance plot are stilted and unbelievable in their progression. Thursday is indisputably a strong, independent heroine, but she lacks emotional depth.
That said, I still recommend the book. This rather kooky, endearing world that I cannot decide if I’d like to live in or not is worth some leaps in narrative and character plausibility. Fforde deserves five stars for creativity.