Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Apr 20, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, mystery-suspense, magical-realism, 2008, crime
Read in April, 2008

It is 1985 and the world isn't quite as we know it. Nor is history the same. There's a lot of odd things going on, otherwordly creatures are real, some people can go back and forth in time, literature is BIG, and the Crimean war has been going on since the 1800s. Thursday Next, a veteran of this war, now works for SpecOps (Special Operations) 27- the Literatec division. She's a kind of literature detective, and when the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit vanishes, she is brought into a much bigger case involving her old Uni professor, Acheron Hades, now a master-mind criminal.

Hades' plan is fairly simple: using Thursday's uncle's Prose Portal invention, he can kidnap characters from manuscripts and hold them to ransom. Literature being as important as it is in this world, you can bet he can demand millions. When his plan for Chuzzlewit doesn't go quite as planned, he steals the manuscript for Jane Eyre instead.

In this story, the plot of Jane Eyre is a bit different. Namely, she marries her cousin St John and goes to India with him. Or Africa, wherever it was. Everyone agrees it's a disappointing ending, not least of all Rochester himself, whom Thursday has a few run-ins with. It seems popping in and out of books isn't so hard as you might think. I do have to wonder, though, at Thursday's run-down of the plot for her colleague's benefit, because I have to disagree on a few points: firstly, Rochester fell in love with Jane pretty much straight away, he just didn't show it; secondly, he never intended to marry Blanche Inghram, that was just a ploy to get Jane jealous and make her love him back; and maybe it's naive of me, and maybe it's the opposite, but I don't know that there's much proof that Adele was Rochester's "love-child".

Anyway. The plot might seem a little confusing, because there's so much happening at once, but it's not. It's fast-paced and funny, and also highly original. I do have to question the curious use of a first-person omniscient narrator - though in this particular world, anything goes; it's just a bit odd to have scenes related in detail of which Thursday wasn't present for. Also, and this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, when someone is retelling a situation that includes a conversation, no one says things like "I stammered in reply" and "There was a pause. Acheron smiled." Seriously, this kind of thing is very distracting because it's so utterly implausible and unrealistic.

Also, I don't know how much of literature or anything else you could learn from a book like this, which is at its heart mocking, and full of deviances. I wouldn't take anything for fact. But I loved the joke names, especially the (rather obvious) Jack Schitt - oh loads of fun there! Thursday's uncle, Mycroft Next, the inventor, is a bit like Q from the James Bond movies, but much more vague; anyway, his inventions are quite funny. The side-plot of the Crimean war adds a serious bent to the novel, and is plenty pertinent.

In short, it wasn't quite what I was expecting but I enjoyed it immensely. I loved how the ending of Jane Eyre - one of my favourite books by the way - was changed to the one that we are familiar with sort-of by accident. And I loved the idea of the characters living the life of the story, over and over again, but able to do more or less as they liked when they weren't in the scene. Rochester was wonderful :)
14 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Eyre Affair.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Kylie Nice review! I really enjoyed this book too, and I agree with those points you made about retelling a story in a conversation and detailing scenes that the narrator wasn't a part of. The same thing is happening in my current read and it's very distracting! Still, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Fforde's books.

back to top