Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you lived in a world where literature was very important? Where there is a need for literary police in order to curb illegal selling of first editions of long-lost books? Where characters in books are treated as celebrities and where – if you are lucky and really good – you can actually physically enter the world of literature?
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Jasper Fforde imagined such a world (and more!) in the first book of his Thursday Next series, The Eyre Affair. Highly entertaining, exciting and moving, this is a book you would not want to miss.
The Eyre Affair is set in an alternate 1985, where – as described above – literature is very important, where dodo’s are not extinct and where England is a police state ruled by the Goliath Corporation. Thursday Next is a literary detective who is investing the theft of the original manuscript of Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit. She gets injured and moves to her hometown of Swindon after her recovery. She keeps pursuing the master thief, Acheron Hades, and eventually ends up in the book Jane Eyre where Hades is hiding. In an attempt to stop Hades, Thursday Next changes the ending of Jane Eyre from a boring, unsatisfying ending to the ending we all know and love now.
I do not want to give too much of the story away. If you like whimsical stories with a deeper undertone, then The Eyre Affair is perfect for you. Fforde constructs his novel brilliantly – the reader immediately knows it is not in Kansas anymore, so to say, but Fforde does not insult the reader by telling far too much of the backstory. There is enough information to understand what is going on, but most of what the reader needs to know comes through the telling of the story.
I can heartily recommend this book.