Christina's Reviews > The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
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Feb 08, 14

bookshelves: 2008, fiction, series, library, to-re-read
Read in November, 2008 — I own a copy, read count: 1

The barriers between reality and fiction are softer than we think; a bit like a frozen lake. Hundreds of people can walk across it, but then one evening a thin spot develops and someone falls through; the hole is frozen over by the following morning." (s. 206)

This is the premise of The Eyre Affair. The main protagonist, Thursday Next, is a litterary agent - she deals with all kinds of crimes having to do with literature, forgery and the like.
She gets involved in the attempt to catch a super villain who, in his own words, is "differently moralled, not mad"... He is part demon and is therefore able to put his hand through glass without breaking it, he doesn't show up on surveillance tapes and he can't be shot - other than that, he's just your usual über bad guy, named Hades of course.
The plot centers around the idea that all books will be changed instantaneously if the original script is changed: All copies anywhere on the planet, in whatever form, originate from that first act of creation. When the original changes, all the others have to change too. If you could go back a hundred million years and change the genetic code of the first mammal, every one of us would be completely different. it amounts to the same thing." (s. 208)
Besides this making for a very interesting plot, it is also interesting to ponder this in connection with what a work of art is - in this case the connection is so close between the original piece of art and the copies of it, that every version of a book is changed if you can change the original one, the author wrote.
This makes for some very interesting crimes, especially since Thursday's uncle invents a machine so you can literally enter any given book.
Hades starts off with killing minor characters in other books but then he goes on to kidnap Jane Eyre - and after the introduction of the Jane Eyre theme, the book really gets good.
Rochester has actually at this point already met Thursday because she entered the book when she was young (and frightened his horse in the scene where he first met Jane) and later, he saved her after her first shoot-of with Hades.
All Thursday has to do now is to save Jane - both the person and the book - and get Hades out of the way. The way she achieve this is so clever that I was floored.

Fforde somehow manages to combine both the story in the real world (which is the real world but some sort of alternative version of it where the Russians still have a Tsar and are fighting with England in the Crimean War) and the story in Jane Eyre so that the action takes place both in the world and in the book and the storylines in this book - The Eyre Affair and in the actual Jane Eyre are somewhat parallel.
(Makes sense? - If not, read the book!)

There are so many clever things in this book - like Richard III performed like it was Rocky Horror, the formerly extinct dodos (I suspect Pickwick will make bigger appearances in the following books) and of course, the character names. How can I not like a book where the characters have name like Hobbes, Tabularasa, Spike and the like?! And I loved how so many people changed their names to John Milton and other famous authors so they all had to have a number - like John Milton 496. And that supporters of "Bacon as writer of Shakespeare's plays" go door to door ...

But what I loved most was the way Jasper Fforde got Jane Eyre to be what it is. In the beginning of his book, Jane Eyre ends differently than what we have come to know and love and when the protagonists - and others, japanese tourists for instance - enter Jane Eyre, they have an influence on the action in this book and through these interferences, we end up with the Jane Eyre we have today.
It is so masterfully done that the only reason I only gave it 4 stars was that I thought it took a bit of time to really get going ... but as I'm writing this review I'm pondering whether I shouldn't give it 5 - or 4.5 it that was possible - because the more I think about it, the more I love it.
Looking so much forward to the next volumes in the series!
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Reading Progress

11/21/2008 page 71
19.03% "Someone ought to throw Pilot a stick!"
11/21/2008 page 171
45.84% "So far a fast and enjoyable read"
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Lisa Vegan Christina, Great review! I'm so glad you liked it. I was afraid you might not after having read Jane Eyre, an entirely different kind of book, so recently. I'm about to start #4. I thought 3 was rather weak although it did pick up and I enjoyed it enough to keep going.


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