Skip to main content

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.

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

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


Popular posts from this blog

Book 40: The Martian by Andy Weir, audiobook read by Wil Wheaton

Note : This will be a general scattershot discussion about my thoughts on the book and the movie, and not a cohesive review. When movies are based on books I am interested in reading but haven't yet read, I generally wait to read the book until I have seen the movie, but when a movie is made based on a book I have already read, I try to abstain from rereading the book until I have seen the movie. The reason is simple: I am one of those people who can be reduced to near-incoherent rage when a movie severely alters the perfectly good story line of a beloved book, changes the ending beyond recognition or adds unnecessarily to the story ( The Hobbit , anyone?) without any apparent reason. I don't mind omissions of unnecessary parts so much (I did not, for example, become enraged to find Tom Bombadil missing from The Lord of the Rings ), because one expects that - movies based on books would be TV-series long if they tried to include everything, so the material must be pared down

List love: 10 recommended stories with cross-dressing characters

This trope is almost as old as literature, what with Achilles, Hercules and Athena all cross-dressing in the Greek myths, Thor and Odin disguising themselves as women in the Norse myths, and Arjuna doing the same in the Mahabaratha. In modern times it is most common in romance novels, especially historicals in which a heroine often spends part of the book disguised as a boy, the hero sometimes falling for her while thinking she is a boy. Occasionally a hero will cross-dress, using a female disguise to avoid recognition or to gain access to someplace where he would never be able to go as a man. However, the trope isn’t just found in romances, as may be seen in the list below, in which I recommend stories with a variety of cross-dressing characters. Unfortunately I was only able to dredge up from the depths of my memory two book-length stories I had read in which men cross-dress, so this is mostly a list of women dressed as men. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb. One of the interwove

First book of 2020: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach (reading notes)

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I loathe movie tie-in book covers because I feel they are (often) trying to tell me how I should see the characters in the book. The edition of Deborah Moggach's These Foolish Things that I read takes it one step further and changes the title of the book into the title of the film version as well as having photos of the ensemble cast on the cover. Fortunately it has been a long while since I watched the movie, so I couldn't even remember who played whom in the film, and I think it's perfectly understandable to try to cash in on the movie's success by rebranding the book. Even with a few years between watching the film and reading the book, I could see that the story had been altered, e.g. by having the Marigold Hotel's owner/manager be single and having a romance, instead being of unhappily married to an (understandably, I thought) shrewish wife. It also conflates Sonny, the wheeler dealer behind the retireme