Book Review: THE EYRE AFFAIR by Jasper Fforde

Title in yellow on green next to car bursting through
Genre: Fantasy, humour
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: yes - first book

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE EYRE AFFAIR: title in yellow above a car bursting through a pastoral scene

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. Baconians are trying to convince the world that Francis Bacon really wrote Shakespeare, there are riots between the Surrealists and Impressionists, and thousands of men are named John Milton, an homage to the real Milton and a very confusing situation for the police. Amidst all this, Acheron Hades, Third Most Wanted Man In the World, steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and kills a minor character, who then disappears from every volume of the novel ever printed! But that’s just a prelude . . .

Hades’ real target is the beloved Jane Eyre, and it’s not long before he plucks her from the pages of Bronte’s novel. Enter Thursday Next. She’s the Special Operative’s renowned literary detective, and she drives a Porsche. With the help of her uncle Mycroft’s Prose Portal, Thursday enters the novel to rescue Jane Eyre from this heinous act of literary homicide. It’s tricky business, all these interlopers running about Thornfield, and deceptions run rampant as their paths cross with Jane, Rochester, and Miss Fairfax. Can Thursday save Jane Eyre and Bronte’s masterpiece? And what of the Crimean War? Will it ever end? And what about those annoying black holes that pop up now and again, sucking things into time-space voids . . .

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

This is a book for lovers of JANE EYRE, and THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. It had the same sort of humour and is just riffing off JANE EYRE the whole way. Given I struggled with HITCHHIKER’S, and JANE EYRE was a book I was forced to read at school (and thus ruined all hope of me liking it), I was not the ideal audience.

I think this book is just not my type of humour, as I found it bizarre rather than funny. The world is very off kilter, with the Crimean war going on and Dodos coming back. The SpecOps teams all not knowing much about each other led to some fun reveals about what they did – and how casually everyone took the idea of an anti-Vamp team.

Given copyright laws, all the book referenced are classics, which is beyond my reading tastes – except for the Shakespeare. I did love all the controversy over who really wrote Shakespeare, with rumours of it getting violent at times. The Baconians believe it was Sir Francis Bacon, but were presented like they were that world’s cult, knocking on doors and “preaching” their message. Plus the idea of an audience-acted Richard III was something I’d want to be part of, because it sounds like such fun (though I’d want a minor role/be part of the fight as I’m self-conscious and cannot act!)

The synopsis is a tad misleading about how important Jane Eyre is. The whole “let’s go after Jane Eyre” doesn’t happen until the second half of the book – if not final third. It added some anticipation to “when will this come up”. It was interesting to see the differences between literature in the two worlds – prompting me to ask my sister what she remembered of the book as I wasn’t sure if it was THE EYRE AFFAIR or my memory that was wrong! Seeing the book play out with Thursday chasing a criminal through the background was probably my favourite part of it.

It was definitely an entertaining book, but I’m not in a big rush to go and read the next instalment. I can see why people love it, but it’s just not my humour.

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