by Jasper Fforde
Released: July 19th 2001
Series: Thursday Next #1
“The Eyre Affair is a bibliophiles dream”
~ Under the Covers
There’s nothing I love more than a reread. Especially if it has been a long time since I have picked the book up. However, it can be a little nerve wrecking. After all, what if you discover, upon the reread, that you didn’t like that book as much as you remembered. All those fond memories of the book might become a little tarnished. This is the dilemma I faced when picking up The Eyre Affair. A book I have extremely fond memories of but haven’t read in over 10 years. The anxiety was for nought. The book was just as good, if not better than when I last read it.
Before I go into my review of The Eyre Affair, it seems only fair that I let the reader know a few things. To really appreciate or even understand The Eyre Affair, there’s almost a required reading list. Due to the way that Fforde has structured his unique alternative universe a good understanding of classic literature is needed. For example, if you haven’t read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, then this book may seem impossible to penetrate. A good understanding of Dickens and Shakespeare wouldn’t go amiss either. I have a fair grasp of the classics but some of the references went over my head as well.
I’ve already mentioned Fforde’s unique alternative universe. It’s a place where literature is taken very seriously. Where factions have formed over who the real Shakespeare was, and leagues of men have changed their name to John Milton. Everything is possible and it seems the improbably happens on a regular basis. This is the world that Acheron Hades, third most wanted man, inhabits. So, when he steals the original manuscripts of Martin Chuzzlewit and subsequently kidnaps a minor character…he sets the world aflame. Especially when it soon becomes apparent that who he really wants is Jane Eyre. Thursday Next is a literary detective and it’s her job to sort out problems like these. And, as one of the few people to have encountered Hades and lives, she is the perfect woman for the job.
Although I have given it a good punt, this book is hard to summarise without giving too much away. The alternative world is so uniquely bookish and absurd and yet completely fascinating. But mostly, it’s just a lot of fun. It’s hard not to get caught up in all the weird and wonderful quirks of this book. And, within this world we have our heroine; Thursday Next. A literary detective – which is a division within law enforcement – who gets involved in a case involving a heinous, yet extremely powerful villain.
The story line is fast paced and interesting and I really loved Thursday, our dogged detective. There’s even a hint of romance. But, the real selling point of this book is how inventive and fun it is. There’s a dry and observational wit throughout this book, that although will not make you belly laugh, it will nevertheless keep you smiling.
The Eyre Affair is a bibliophiles dream and if you are looking for something genuinely unique and interesting to read then you need to give it a try.
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