It would seem Fforde’s imagination knows no bounds in this thrilling and truly original story.
From the first pages of the book Jasper Fforde immerses us into his wonderfully imaginative and colourful world where time travellers can span decades, dodo’s are kept as pets, and the Crimean war never ended. All of Britain is controlled by the over bearing Goliath corporation who use bully boy tactics to get what they want.
But at the heart of the novel is Fforde’s greatest creation, his heroine Thursday Next. A spunky, brave and pragmatic young lady who thrives in exciting but dangerous tasks. Unfortunately for Thursday she is stuck in a rather dull job, working as a literary detective in Spec Ops. It’s Thursday’s job alongside the other lit detectives to prevent crimes against plagiarism, forgery and the theft of great literary works. Fed up of this musty, dull world, Next craves a new adventure. But when the Charles Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit manuscript mysteriously vanishes along with one of the books minor characters, Next soon has all of the excitement she wanted…and a whole lot more.
Suspicions of the manuscripts theft soon turn to the books super villain Acheron Hades who seems to be the only person powerful or evil enough to not only steal such a great masterpiece but to also do it without leaving so much as one trace of himself at the crime scene. Even CCTV fail to bring up the faintest shadow of him. Thursday and her comrades must now fight a race against time to try and recover the manuscript before anymore damage is done, and they must capture the merciless Hades whose seemingly superhuman powers are beginning to manifest themselves in frightening ways. But as the drama mounts so do the casualties and a nasty run in with Hades has serious consequences.
So when Jack Schitt from the Goliath corporation begins to poke his nose into the whole Hades affair, in spite of his ascertain that Acheron is dead, the pressure becomes even more heavy for Next. Hot on her heels Schitt proves another level of thrill and drama for this already powerfully imaginative novel.
In a world were ‘time waits for no man’ and were the boundaries of reality are blurred; nothing is impossible. When the original manuscript of the nations beloved Jane Eyre goes missing in much the same manner as the Martin Chuzzlewit manuscript the novel is at fever pitch. On the cusp of victory Next must leave this world and enter the world of Jane Eyre, but will our heroine get back, and who will be in there with her?
Well that’s as much as I’m going to tell you, I don’t think I’ve given anything essential away, although my synopsis might seem a little like it. The book is filled with so many surprises and adventures you wouldn’t think imaginable until you actually read them for yourself.
By the end of the book I was quite literately on the edge of my seat desperate to see how things would pan out. Although I will confess to finding the ending a little hurried, has anyone else read the book, would you agree or disagree?
Hurried ending aside I did enjoy this book immensely. I found the narrative smooth and natural allowing me to totally sink into Fforde’s fictional world. I found the book amusing, the amazing power of Fforde’s imagination blowing me away at times. I found the style and plot of the book rewardingly original.
All of this said I also quickly forgot the magic of The Eyre Affair. That probably sounds quite harsh doesn’t it? But for me a book like this with such rich imagination should surely be quite unforgettable. I’ve read other peoples reviews and thoughts and they seem to have become so engrossed in this other world that they are still now talking about a world were litera tech’s work, Wales is a republic and dodo’s walk the street. So powerful the book seems to have been for them that they are still clinging onto that other world.
I think that happens when you read books set in alternative worlds or countries. It’s rather clichéd I’m sure, but when I read Harry Potter for example, or The His Dark Material’s trilogy I really got lost in those worlds, and if I close my eyes now I can totally convince myself that I’m in Hogwarts.
Perhaps what I’m saying is I expected this to be more epic, or to have more of an epic impact on me. As it was I enjoyed the book for what it was, a fast paced book with humour, wit and strong imagination. The after effects though were less impressionable and now I’m left with a book that yes I would recommend, but no I wouldn’t call it one of my all time greats.
Maybe I’m being a little unfair and from the offset was looking for the wrong thing, what do you think? Have you read the Eyre Affair, were you blown away by it or were your feelings mixed? I’d love to hear your thoughts.