The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

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The last time Waffles recommended a book to me was probably when she was going through her Harry Potter stage. (Like most of her generation, this stage may last for her whole life). I resisted reading the Harry Potter books for a long time, but eventually read the whole lot and enjoyed them, although probably not as much as Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series, which I grew up reading.

Anyway, Waffles has been strongly suggesting I read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde for ages and again, I’ve been resisting. But when I read her review of the book recently at WafflesVeryHappy, I knew it was time to get on board. You can read her review at the following link.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

So, for the two people left in the reading world who haven’t already read The Eyre Affair, this is a story written for people who love books and reading. Us. We are the target audience.

The Eyre Affair is set in 1985, although this is a different 1985 to the one I remember. In this version of 1985, books and reading are the life blood of society. Everyone reads. Ordinary people have conversations about the plots of classics, discuss who really wrote Shakespeare’s works and there are so many people named John Milton that their names are also numbered. This is an alternate reality that I could love.

History must have gone off on a tangent sometime in the past, because in The Eyre Affair, the Crimean War is still going on. World Wars One and Two don’t seem to have happened, so technology has developed differently. People fly in airships and planes are a rarity. Time travel is a reality. Pet dodos are more popular than labradoodles.

Not only that, books are not quite the same as they are in our world. In The Eyre Affair‘s  version of 1985, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre ends with Jane going to India as an assistant to her cousin St John Rivers, although she did not marry her him. People on the street agree that this was a poor ending to a great book and the general consensus is that everyone wanted Jane to marry Mr Rochester.

The main character is Thursday Next. (I know, right? Great name. There is also a Mr Continued Overleaf, a Landen Park-Laine and, I’m embarrassed to say, a Mr Jack Schitt). Anyway, Thursday is what we would call a police officer or detective in the Special Operations Network. Thursday’s section is SO-27, the Literary Detective Division, whose members are also known as LiteraTecs.

Thursday is recruited into a Spec Ops 5 investigation of a dastardly criminal, Acheron Hades, who has been kidnapping characters from much loved books and holding them ransom. When the kidnapped characters are removed from the books, the story changes. If a main character is removed, the story ends. When Hades steals the original manuscript of Charles Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit, the entire world is horrified that the story might disappear entirely. (I might have to read Martin Chuzzlewit soon, in case this comes true).

Anyway, Thursday, along with some of her more unusual family members and a truly dedicated group of fellow LiteraTecs and other Spec Ops officers, enjoy the best adventures of all time as they fall in and out of poems, stories and books.

Despite all of these reasons to like The Eyre Affair, I didn’t think I would until Thursday somehow fell into the scene in Jane Eyre where Jane and Mr Rochester meet for the first time in the lane. Somehow, I believed every word. I laughed aloud when Pilot, (Mr Rochester’s dog, for the those of you who have not read Jane Eyre) licked Thursday’s face. Thursday threw sticks for Pilot, which he loved, because usually he only got to do what was written in the book.

The story got a bit complicated at times, and I’m fairly sure a lot of literary references went right over my head. It didn’t really matter though, because the story moved so quickly that I just went along for the ride. This is the most fun I’ve had reading in ages.

So, thank you very much Waffles. I really enjoyed The Eyre Affair. Now I’m looking out for Lost in a Good Book.

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