Friday, May 13, 2011

The Eyre Affair

This week I finished reading The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde, a British novel that I expected to be (pun mostly intended) my cup of tea.

In Fforde's parallel universe literature is the most potent force in society--on a nightly basis, throngs of ordinary people who have all memorized Shakespeare's Richard III, dress up in the appropriate attire and perform the play as if it were the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The president of the Bronte society is one of the most powerful men in politics, and youthful street gangs are Marlowe-ists or Baconists who refuse to accept William Shakespeare as the author of his plays.

The heroine in this alternate reality is a Litratech, a detective or policewoman of sorts, whose job it is to track down plagiarists and book thieves. Through a twist of fate Litratech Thursday Next gets assigned to a top priority case chasing a madman whose goal is to destroy Jane Eyre.

I appreciated the literary allusions throughout the novel, but I'm picky about my dialogue and I don't suspend disbelief especially easily. Occasionally Fforde simply clobbers his readers with his points. The characters have some very clunky conversations to move the plot along, and the book lacks some of the subtlety of truly great writing. One of the characters has the audacity to be named Jack Schitt; the villain's name is Hades. Yet, these things are mostly forgivable in a sci-fi novel set in an over-the-top fantastic other-world. I don't however, forgive the writing of Thursday's romantic life, which is wrapped up all too neatly in too few pages tacked on the end of the book.

Despite being a little harsh on pop-literature author Fforde, I think if I come across any of the other books in the Thursday Next series, I would be glad to read them.


  1. I LOVE Jasper Fforde! Such fun stuff. I've read the Nursery Rhyme series and they're so great.

  2. I'll have to add those to my (reeeaaally looong) list of books to read!

  3. I've read all of Jasper Fforde's books. They are truly hit and miss, but enjoyable.