Book Review: The Eyre Affair
By: Jasper Fforde
Published By: Penguin
Publication Date: April 2000
Page Count: 374
Source: Owned by Reviewer
Audience: Adult - Mystery
My general thoughts about this are kind of summed up by the word "meh". I was given this as a Christmas present, and on the face of it, I really should have loved it. It is set in a very imaginative world where the Crimean war didn't finish, novels have totally different (generally unhappy) endings, religion has been replaced with the idolization of authors, and everyone has genetically reconstructed Dodos as pets. This has 'me' written all over it. I loved Jane Eyre, and a book about rescuing her from the clutches of an evil villain who can hop into novels and kidnap characters sounds nothing short of awesome.
So why didn't I connect with it? Why did it take me SO LONG to read? I'm not sure. I've been mulling it over and I think I need more emotion from my books. I also didn't find this as wildly funny as all the quotes on the inside cover said I would, in fact I think I only smiled once (at an amusing character name). I didn't really connect with the characters at all; I didn't feel any kinship with Thursday Next, the protagonist, and even though I like kick-butt female leads, I just didn't feel like I ever got to know her properly. It was like reading a stranger for me. The thing that saved it slightly, and stopped me abandoning it entirely, was that the more I read on, the more The Eyre Affair drew on the events of Jane Eyre, which seems a little like cheating to me... having said that, the finale shoot out was cleverly woven into events surrounding the fire at Thornfield Hall, which deserves a little credit at least I think.
What I have decided is that my brother will love this. He will snort with laughter at all the sly jokes, he won't miss the lack of emotion, and he might just even really fancy Thursday Next, because she DOESN'T babble on about love and stuff. I think perhaps this is one for the boys.
Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where 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, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë's novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.