I just finished The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, and I'm ambivalent. Fforde has created a witty, interesting world in which gangs fight over art movements rather than turf, vampires and werewolves are fought by a small, underfunded government office, cults go door-to-door spreading the "good news" about who REALLY wrote Shakespeare's plays, cloned dodo birds are common household pets, and Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre literally walks out of the pages and into the streets of London. It's a world in which I dream of living!
I want to like it, but... Unfortunately, the reader is guided through this world by Thursday Next, a
Thursday has been stuck in a dead-end Literature Detective job for years. She finally finds her big break when one of the world's most notorious criminals, Acheron Hades, steals the original manuscript of Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit. It's Thursday's case, and she quickly begins to rise in the ranks. Meanwhile, Thursday's eccentric uncle invents an incredible device that catches the attention of a shady para-government organization. They want to use his invention to perpetuate the Crimean War, which has raged for more than a hundred years. They kidnap Thursday's aunt so they can manipulate her uncle. When the two cases collide, Thursday must find a way to rescue her aunt and uncle from the pages of a Wordsworth poem, put Jane Eyre back in the novel from which she came, fight a seemingly invincible foe, and stay alive while doing so. It sounds good, right?
Often it is good, but not when the reader is forced to focus on Thursday and her anemic story of long-lost love. This woman barely blinks when bullets fly at her face, but after ten years she can't process her own feelings concerning an ex-boyfriend. Like a Dan Brown character, she doesn't grow or change, so she feels flat and unrealistic. Unlike a Dan Brown novel, Fforde's fictional world is so charmingly surprising that I'm okay with that. It's fun, light pool reading--exactly what I need right now. I just brought home the next volume in this series, Lost in a Good Book. I'm hoping for more cute dodo birds and literary references, and less Thursday. If you want to giggle over literary jokes, this book is just right.