The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde
Genre: Alternate History; Mystery; Fantasy
Summary: Set in various places in England, The Eyre Affair follows Thursday Next, an agent working for a branch of London’s Special Operations known as the LiteraTecs, in 1985. In this alternate reality, literature is highly valued and incredibly popular, and it is the responsibility of the SpecOps to protect it against any threat. When a hardened criminal named Hades begins to literally fall into the pages of the books and permanently change the plots, will Thursday and her cohorts be able to stop him?
Review: I am a huge Jane Eyre fan, so when I heard about this book, I knew I was either going to really love it or throw it forcibly against a wall. Fortunately for both my sake and the binding of my copy of The Eyre Affair, I absolutely loved it and was drawn in from the very first page.
This book was hilarious from start to finish, and Fforde’s wit was evident on every page (Jack Schitt…well played, Mr. Fforde). Fforde’s London was incredibly imaginative, and I couldn’t help but wish I lived there; after all, what voracious reader wouldn’t want the opportunity to leap into her favorite poems or books (not to mention work for the SpecOps)? I loved all of the references to other books throughout, but mentions of Bronte, Shakespeare, Bacon, and Marlowe brought a special kind of giddy joy to my nerdy, English major heart.
The way in which Jane Eyre was tied into the story was incredibly interesting, and I liked that the ending of that book was different at the beginning of The Eyre Affair. It was also interesting to see the parallels from Jane Eyre to Thursday’s own life.
The characters themselves were quite well drawn, and I really liked that the story was told through Thursday’s eyes. Sometimes I get a little worried when I find out that a male author is trying to write a female protagonist, but I thought Fforde did a really great job here. Thursday was tough, smart, extremely well-read, and sometimes, she made mistakes, which made her quite believable. Even though he only showed up a few times, Thursday’s father was also a compelling character, and I loved when he popped in to ask if Thursday had ever heard of someone who was supposed to be historically important. Hades, the villain, was also quite interesting because he was so maniacal, and as I read along, I kept hoping that the SpecOps would finally be able to stop him somehow.
All in all, The Eyre Affair was an excellent start to what I’m sure is a fantastic series. If you enjoy alternate histories, classic literature, and mysteries, definitely give The Eyre Affair a try. I certainly can’t wait to read more!
Other Books in the Thursday Next Series: Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, First Among Sequels, One of Our Thursdays is Missing
Read-alikes: Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, Inkheart – Cornelia Funke, Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte, The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger