Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair
Jasper Fforde
3.5 / 5

Published 2001

First Sentence
"My father had a face that could stop a clock."
Publisher's Description:
The word "unique" is overused and frequently misused. Here, however, is an instance where it truly applies. But to call "The Eyre Affair" a unique first novel featuring a fearless fictional adventurer barely begins to tell the story. When asked to summarize his creation is a single sentence, Jasper Fforde described it as "a literary detective thriller with romantic overtones, mad-inventor uncles, aunts trapped in Wordsworth poems, global multinationals, scheming evildoers, an excursion inside the novel "Jane Eyre," dodos, knight-errant-time-traveling fathers, and the answer to the eternal question: Who really wrote Shakespeare's plays?" Swindon, a traditionally tranquil English town, is the ironic setting for most of these oddball characters and peculiar goings-on; the year is 1985. Fforde spins his wildly imaginative crime caper in language every bit as ingenious as the madcap plot; his devilishly clever turns of phrase take the form of verbal puzzles, anagrams, and literary and cinematic in-jokes. 

Long involved in the movie-making business, Fforde gives a starring role to Thursday Next, a captivating sleuth whose respect for literature matches that of her creator. The essence of Thursday's quest is the capture of Acheron Hades, a wily cad whose dastardly crime is murder of characters from the classics.

Dear Reader,

As Amberbug once wrote in her Goodreads review of this book, this is definitely a solid sci-fi book - a fun adventure, and one you find yourself wrapped up in.  And isn't that what a really enjoyable book does?  Just takes you out of the real world entirely, and drags you along on its own adventure.

And that's what you'll get: a mix of all sorts of science fiction, including (resurrected from DNA) pet dodo birds, time travel, fantastic inventions, and masterminds with unreal powers.  And for a book lover, especially one who has read the classics, this is the adventure book for you.  (Although I wish I had brushed up on my Jane Eyre and some Shakespeare before having cracked this book!)  I enjoyed the character of Thursday Next, who was a strong and independent policewoman.  She has a moral compass and takes on enemies who are much stronger than her, and then manages to outsmart them.  So I couldn't help but want to be her.

I think this is definitely a great recommendation for someone who might just want a break from those great-but-draining classics.  Since the author clearly loves books, it gives you something to identify with - but it's also just a really amusing romp through time and space - and books!

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