The Eyre Affair Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair

First Published 2001
384 Pages
Date Read
August 2002

Wow! This book is different and wonderful for it. Thursday Next is a detecive in SO-27, the special operations division concerned with literary crime. She is recruited by SO-5 on a Search and Containment mission to track down master criminal Acheron Hades on the grounds that she knew him years earlier and should help identify him.

Hades has stolen the original manuscript for Martin Chuizzlewit and using a machine invented by Thursday's eccentric uncle Mycroft has removed a character from the tale (and changing the manuscript has the effect of changing all existing copies). He is threatening to remove and kill Chuzzlewit himself. Mycroft next being coerced into helping as his wife is currently trapped in a Wordsworth poem and Hades is the only person who can save her.

When Hades then removes Jane Eyre from the book of the same name Next must find a way to repair the damage. All the time while trying to end the ongoing Crimean War, prevent the man she loves from marrying another woman and discover who wrote the Shakespeare plays.

As I said, WOW! This is the most original book I have ever read. The characters are unbelievably surreal and yet totally believable - I can imagine people acting this way in the world they are in (okay maybe that's stretching it but they are consistent in their reactions and well described).

Everything about this book beggars belief. From Thursday time travelling father, a rogue operative from SO-9, the ChronoGuard; through the dark mysterious all-controlling corporate entity the Goliath Corporation fronted in this novel by their operative Jack Schitt; to the facts that Wales is a Soviet-style Republic and the Isle of Wight has been handed back to the French and you have a very odd book.

It's also a very literary book, Mr. Fforde certainly displays a thorough knowledge of all those books I used to dread reading at school. and the way in which he gentle pokes fun at them at times shows he must have affection for the works.

Everything here is at least one degree away from the kind of reality we are used to. This book reads like Terry Gilliam directing a cross between the Book Review programme and the X-Files. Bizarre and briliant!