Thursday, April 3, 2008
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
When I first heard of this book I was really curious about it. I love Jane Eyre and the idea of someone entering the book and actually talking to the characters seemed a fabulous one. It was original, interesting and, for fans of the story, absolutely irresistible.
In Jasper Fforde's Great Britain, circa 1985, time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë's novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career. Fforde's ingenious fantasy-enhanced by a Web site that re-creates the world of the novel--unites intrigue with English literature in a delightfully witty mix.
The problem was that I started the book and other than some short references to Rochester there was no Jane Eyre in sight. The book first introduces us to Thursday Next, our heroine, who lives in an alternate reality with a very confusing family and a job that took me awhile to understand. I must admit that the fact that I was a bit lost for the first 200 pages didn't help one bit. I could see that Fforde has a huge imagination and lots of ideas that I liked but I'm afraid I couldn't keep up with him for most of the book. References to the Crimean War left me completely lost (was it easier for UK natives who probably heard about it a lot more than me?) and I'm also not familiar with Wordsworth works to understand what Thursday's aunt was doing on the poem nor with Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit to really appreciate the changes in the story. I can only guess how many other references escaped me... I thought the discussion on who wrote Shakespeare's plays was fun but the conclusion was a let down.
Fortunately after 200 pages we reach Jane Eyre! I loved it how Thursday entered the story in search of the bad guy and ultimately changed it to the ending we know and love. This part was really interesting and fun. All the things I thought the whole book would be and wasn't. Besides why is this called The Eyre Affair if only the last third of the book deals with Jane Eyre? It's like there were less loose ends in this last part and more of a continuity.
Grade: B- (just because I loved the Jane Eyre part so much)