Published by Penguin Books
Released in 2001
Hardcover, 374 pages
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 the 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 Bronte’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.
Wow! What a strange ride! Jasper Fforde has created an intriguing and unique world in The Eyre Affair where classic literature rules the lives of the population and literary characters come to life. This was a really interesting read and I enjoyed the characters, especially Thursday Next. There is plenty action, a little bit of romance and a bit of humor as well.
Thursday Next is a SpecOps agent in SO-27, LiteraTecs. Her job is to investigate literary mishaps. She is a really good character who is thrown into a diabolical plot of literary ransom. Her favorite book is Jane Eyre and she finds herself having to protect England’s most beloved character, Jane Eyre, from serious harm. She is tough and extremely intelligent. She is a wonderful adversary for the villain, Acheron Hades. She also has an interesting relationship with Mr. Rochester. One of things I really enjoyed was that Fforde found a way for all his characters to coexist without it feeling awkward or too far-fetched.
Acheron Hades is truly a diabolical character. He is the archetype villain. There were many times that I envisioned him with a black sinister mustache and him twirling it while cackling. At one point he was actually monologueing about his devious plots. I wish there was more background on his character. After I finished reading this book, I had a few unanswered questions about his character. How did he receive his strange powers? Why is silver such a big deal? Why did he become so evil?
One of my favorite parts of the book is the performance of Richard III. In our world, we have Rocky Horror Picture Show and in Fforde’s world, it’s Richard III. How fun is that? It was so funny and creative how he had the audience participating just like Rocky Horror, including people dressing up as the characters and the crazy audience responses. I would definitely go see Richard III if it was performed that way. Fun! Fun!
There is a little bit of romance running through the book. It wasn’t a main theme; it was more of a side plot to distract Thursday from her mission of capturing Hades. I don’t think the romance aspect was really developed that well. I really didn’t care that much if Thursday had a romantic happy ending or not. I wasn’t that connected to the side of the story.
My biggest issue with this book was the world-building aspect of it. From the beginning, I felt like I had been thrown into a world with no explanation. I like the hows and whys; where I want background and detail of an alternate world. However, overall, I found this world fun and entertaining. I definitely want to read the other books in the series.