Title: The Eyre Affair
Author: Jasper Fforde
Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Humor, Science Fiction, Books About Books, Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Books
Published: February 25, 2003
Page Amount: 374 pages
Blurb From Goodreads: Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.
Why Read: Does one even need to ask why I needed to read a book that focuses on surrealist London where literature comes alive? I will confess to having found this book by researching, “Books about Books” on about 10 different websites until I found something mildly pleasing. Thursday Next sounded like a character I could get behind.. and a London where there’s a special police dedicated to protecting literary characters – it was really only a matter of time.
Review: As of late, surrealist books have been catching my attention. There is something alluring about the cross-stitch between reality and fantasy, and nowhere is better for that than London. The city seems to always find itself torn between the feel of an old city and need for progress. The Eyre Affair does London justice, and the usage of Jane Eyre along with various other well-known English literature was nothing short of brilliant. Purely based on the concept alone, I would give this book a solid 5/5 stars.
The problems lie in characters and plot development. I want so badly to give this book the benefit of the doubt and cast aside all of my weary memories of Thursday and the not-so-subtle side romance plot. For once, can a book rely on its merits of the world that it creates? While Thursday is certainly a good character, and I appreciated the fact she was a woman – there were few, if any, moments of empathy. Most of the time, I was irritated with her tone and stance towards capturing the main antagonist of the book. The pace of the plot did not help. Thursday leads the reader slowly by the hand as though we are children, and need every subtle point shown to us. No thank you.
Regardless, the 3.7 stars stands. Despite my irritation at the main character and the elements of dialogue in general, the whole story had an air of nostalgia about it. To anyone who has had the great pleasure of reading Jane Eyre in their childhood or had a smile brought to their eyes when someone mentions a Wordsworth or Byronic poem – you will be in the same situation as I. You push away everything that you dislike about this book because it makes you happy to hear about Rochester. Jane Eyre interacting with a real life character NOT in Jane Eyre!? Give me more. Please. So for concept alone and the small smiles it brought to my face over the span of a few days: I am happy to rate it… mildly reasonably. Read for the nostalgia, though, and not for high expectations of great prose.
Rating: 3.7/5 Stars