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The Eyre Affair

Cover of The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair

Thursday Next Series, Book 1
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The word "unique" is overused and frequently misused. Here, however, is an instance wehre it truly applies. But to call The Eyre Affair a unique first novel featuring a fearless fictional adverturer 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 Wordswrth 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.

The word "unique" is overused and frequently misused. Here, however, is an instance wehre it truly applies. But to call The Eyre Affair a unique first novel featuring a fearless fictional adverturer 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 Wordswrth 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.

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  • AudioFile Magazine In this delicious spoof, Londoners, in a fantastical 1985, take their literature very seriously. Jasper Fforde's first novel introduces heroine Thursday Next, SpecOps-27 Literary Detective. Time-travel is commonplace (Thursday's father, a member of the ChronoGuard, is off correcting history's mistakes), while dirigible is the best way to make long trips in real time. The Crimean War has been claiming victims for 135 years and, oh yes, literary characters slip in and out of their books as necessary. Fforde's smart-alecky wit is served well by Elizabeth Sastre's performance. Her slightly bemused, slightly bewildered Thursday becomes everything a feisty P.I. should be. Her ingenuous yet intelligent reading brings zaniness to all Fforde's literary jokes. Fforde handles his material deftly, with tongue planted firmly in cheek. S.J.H. (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 4, 2002
    This novel might be called "James Bond Meets Harry Potter in the Twilight Zone." In fact, the reader plays "name that literary reference" through most of this zany work, where characters wander around in time from the Crimean War through the present and into the future, and in and out of novels including, of course, Jane Eyre. The narrator, Tuesday Next, is a tough, gun-totin' heart-of-gold heroine with a pet dodo, a true love she has refused to acknowledge and a brilliant, dotty scientist uncle named Mycroft. Her job is to rescue literary characters kidnapped out of books from being wiped off the face of every copy of a work by tracking down and outwitting the purely evil Asheron Hades and Goliath Corporation greedyman Jack Shit. Throughout, discussions of who really wrote Shakespeare's plays abound, along with send-ups of every literary genre from the highest to the lowest brow. Sastre's reading works particularly well because she's good at the straight narrative, while the nature of the book's language makes melodramatic voices for the other bizarre characters. Simultaneous release with the Viking hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 17, 2001).

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 17, 2001
    Surreal and hilariously funny, this alternate history, the debut novel of British author Fforde, will appeal to lovers of zany genre work (think Douglas Adams) and lovers of classic literature alike. The scene: Great Britain circa 1985, but a Great Britain where literature has a prominent place in everyday life. For pennies, corner Will-Speak machines will quote Shakespeare; Richard III
    is performed with audience participation à la Rocky Horror
    and children swap Henry Fielding bubble-gum cards. In this world where high lit matters, Special Operative Thursday Next (literary detective) seeks to retrieve the stolen manuscript of Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit.
    The evil Acheron Hades has plans for it: after kidnapping Next's mad-scientist uncle, Mycroft, and commandeering Mycroft's invention, the Prose Portal, which enables people to cross into a literary text, he sends a minion into Chuzzlewit
    to seize and kill a minor character, thus forever changing the novel. Worse is to come. When the manuscript of Jane Eyre, Next's favorite novel, disappears, and Jane herself is spirited out of the book, Next must pursue Hades inside Charlotte Brontë's masterpiece. The plethora of oddly named characters can be confusing, and the story's episodic nature means that the action moves forward in fits and starts. The cartoonish characters are either all good or all bad, but the villain's comeuppance is still satisfying. Witty and clever, this literate romp heralds a fun new series set in a wonderfully original world. (Jan. 28)Forecast:With a six-city author tour, a well-conceived Web site at www.thursdaynext.com and crossover appeal to Brontë fans, this is likely to attract more attention than the usual first genre novel.

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  • Publisher
    HighBridge Company
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The Eyre Affair
The Eyre Affair
Thursday Next Series, Book 1
Jasper Fforde
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