The Eyre Affair

Originally published in October 2004, in 2 parts.
Book 34 in my first 52 books challenge.


Author: Jasper Fforde
Year published: 2001
Pages: 384
Genre: Fantasy
Where got: Public library

When I first heard about this book I thought to myself “this sounds interesting”, and then forgot about it. Then a discussion started about it in an online reading forum I participate in, and my interest was rekindled. I wasn’t certain I wanted to own it, so finding it in the library was lucky.

The Story:
Some SPOILERS ahead

Thursday Next is drawn from her relatively normal existence as a literary detective into an adventure when she is called in to identify arch-criminal Acheron Hades. Things get personal when he kills her ex-boyfriend and kidnaps her aunt and uncle and her uncle’s invention, a machine that enables people to visit any literary work. Thursday must follow him into the original manuscript of Jane Eyre in order to prevent him from killing Jane and altering literary history…

Technique and plot:
I’d like to apologise in advance if the review seems a bit disjointed, but I am writing this about 10 minutes after finishing the book. I usually sleep on my reviews, but not this time.

This is an alternative reality story that happens in a world where some things are the same as in this reality and others are radically different. The narrative is Thursday’s throughout, with her telling about herself in the first person and others in the third person when necessary for the narrative. This is a problem: she is too perfect a third person narrator. Although she might have reconstructed events she was not present at to tell them in the narrative, the author makes her knowledge of these events so intimate that she even recounts word-for-word dialogue she did not witness, thus making her an omniscient narrator. Not good. Maybe it is revealed in one of the next books what made her such a perfect narrator, but I doubt I’ll ever find out because I have no desire to read the other books.

The names given to some of the people in the book are annoyingly cute. They stop being funny by chapter three, but unfortunately the keep coming.

Thursday herself is a typical world-weary and damaged detective. There is nothing about her that could not have been written about a man – she could just as well have been Mr. October Next. Not good. When men write from the point of view of women, they might at least make an effort to make the point of view female rather than universal.

All in all, I would say this book is a disappointment. After all the rave reviews and the talk, I expected something better.

Rating:
An interesting journey into alternative reality that doesn’t quite work. 2 stars.

Note: I did read more, and they get better.

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