The Eyre Affair is Jasper Fforde's first novel, and the debut of a fresh and delightfully original new voice.
There is another 1985, somewhere in the could-have-been, where the Crimean war still rages, dodos are regenerated in home-cloning kits and everyone is deeply disappointed by the ending of 'Jane Eyre'. In this world there are no jet-liners or computers, but there are policemen who can travel across time, a Welsh republic, a great interest in all things literary - and a woman called Thursday Next. In this utterly original and wonderfully funny first novel, Fforde has created a fiesty, loveable heroine and a plot of such richness and ingenuity that it will take your breath away.
Jasper Fforde's first novel was publishing to astonishing critical and commercial success in 2001. Since then he has written 3 other Thursday next novels, and is working on the first in a new series of crime novels. Jasper lives near Hay-on-Wye and flies Tiger Moth aeroplanes as relaxation.
'What Fforde is pulling is a variation on the classic Monty Python gambit: the incongruous juxtaposition og low comedy and high erudition - this scam has not been pulled off with such off-hand finesse and manic verve since the Pythons shut up shop. 'The Eyre Affair' is a silly book for smart people: postmodernism played as raw, howling farce' -- Independent 'It is always a privilege to watch the birth of a cult, and Hodder has just cut the umbilical cord. Always ridiculous, often hilarious ... blink and you miss a vital narrative leap. There are shades of Douglas Adams, Lewis Carroll, 'Clockwork Orange' and '1984'. And that's just for starters' -- Time Out 'Ingenious - I'll watch Jasper Fforde nervously' -- Terry Pratchett 'Surely a cult in the making' -- Marie Clare
An unusually sure-footed first novel, this literary folly serves up a generally unique stew of fantasy, science fiction, procedural, and cozy literary mystery-but in the end is more dancing bear than ballet. In an alternative Britain where literature is as important to the masses as movie stars are in our own, kids trade bubble-gum cards of Fielding characters, Baconians go door to door like Jehovah's Witnesses preaching Francis Bacon's authorship of Shakespeare (while radical "New Marlovians" firebomb their meetings), and Richard III is weekly participatory theater, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Thursday Next, a veteran of the Crimean War (still being fought after a hundred years), is a LiteraTec, assigned to crimes such as stolen manuscripts and, because time travel is common, very convincing forgeries. Her father, a renegade ChronoGuard, travels time fighting historical revisionists, occasionally visiting Thursday to check his progress ("Have you ever heard of someone named Winston Churchill?"). Acheron Hades, whose supernatural powers make him the third most dangerous man in the world, steals the Prose Portal, an invention allowing travel between literature and reality, and the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit, then ransoms one of the minor characters. Things get worse when he gets his hands on Jane Eyre. Thursday pursues Acheron into the text of the novel (always a puzzlement to Bronte fans because of its oddly truncated close, in which Jane never returns to Rochester), defeats him, and gives the story its familiar happy ending. Back in her own world, Thursday marries her true love in scenes that parallel the novel she's just escaped, aided by characters she'd thought she'd left there. While endlessly inventive, the invention here displays more whim than whimsy (names like Jack Schitt, Millon de Floss, and Oswald Mandias get a grin, but no more), and the world this young Welsh newcomer creates lacks the integrity that makes the best fantasies both startling and enduring. Still, it's a welcoming and amusing place to pass a few hours. (Kirkus Reviews)
Short-listed for WH Smith Book Awards (New Talent) 2002
The Eyre Affair is a mix of science fiction, literary crime thriller and comedy. It is 1985, England and Russia are still fighting the Crimean War, Wales is a socialist republic, home genetic engineering kits have made the dodo a family pet, and Goliath Corporation, â€œFor all you'll ever need.â€ sells everything to everyone. The story centres around literary detective Thursday Next as she pursues evil supervillain Acheron Hades to recover a manuscript for Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit. This leads to the death of her partner during Hades' capture and her reassignment to her home town of Swindon, a meeting with her uncle Mycroft Next, whose invention of the 'Prose Portal' allows travel into the world of fiction. Thursday makes the mistake of crossing Goliath who want the new invention, but there is also the matter of an escaped Acheron Hades and some rather odd changes to 'Jane Eyre'. This is the first in a series of (so far) 5 books, although the two Nursery Crime books are set in the same bookworld. While you don't have to be particularly well read to get the jokes (I certainly haven't read many of the books featured through the series) there are plenty of references that will be missed without at least an awareness of the stories and their characters. It's full of a lot of ideas, some that work, some that don't, some that are just weird (Thursday's time traveling and technically non-existant father who makes frequent timely appearances) but the various strands come together at the end to make sense, more or less. The series as a whole is well worth the read, but start at the beginning and it keeps getting better.
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