Thursday, 26 November 2015

'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde (2001)

Synopsis: The Eyre Affair is the first novel in the Thursday Next series and takes place in an alternate universe. The year is 1985. England is still fighting Imperial Russia in the Crimean War and its government is being heavily influenced by the powerful and morally shady Goliath Corporation. Wales is a socialist republic, cloned dodos are popular pets, certain individuals can travel through time, and literature is taken deadly seriously. Thursday Next is a woman in her mid 30s, is a Crimean War veteran, and is now working as a literary detective. Thursday's job is usually rather dull and mainly involves checking copyright. However, Thursday's life then becomes considerably more exciting when a powerful super villain called Acheron Hades steals the original manuscript to Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit. Thursday is then recruited to track Hades down and retrieve the book. To complicate matters even further, Thursday's ex-fiancé Landen re-enters her life and she finds herself being tailed by an obnoxious man who walks for the Goliath Corporation. Meanwhile, after faking his death, Hades then kidnaps Thursday's aunt and eccentric uncle Mycroft in order to get his hands on her uncle's new invention "the Prose Portal" - a device which allows one to travel into the world of books. Hades then brutally dispatches a minor character from Martin Chuzzlewit, imprisons Polly in a William Wordsworth poem, and has one of his henchmen travel into the original manuscript of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre to kidnap Jane. Thursday must then team up with Jane Eyre's Mr Rochester in order to rescue Jane, prevent literary homicide, and keep the ending of the novel intact.

I bought The Eyre Affair sometime last year and I'm kicking myself for taking as long as I did to finally read it - because it's got to be one of the funniest and most inventive books that I've come across in years! The book is set in this delightfully fun and quirky world in which everyone is obsessed with literature. If it wasn't for the Crimean War and the Goliath Corporation I think every book-lover would want to visit its world! And I don't think I've ever come across another book which spans as many genres as this book does either. It's a sci-fi novel, it's a fantasy, it's a police procedural, it's a thriller, it's a comedy and it's a literary satire. There's also a little bit of a romance and even a slight horror element to the story (since vampires and werewolves exist in its world and there's a pretty suspenseful scene where Thursday has to confront a vampire).

The characters are a lot of fun in this book too. The main character, Thursday, is clever, resourceful, funny and badass and I really enjoyed her exchanges with her uncle Mycroft and her work colleagues Bowden and Victor. Having said that I'm not sure if she was my favourite character in the book, I think that might actually have to be Hades because he was suave and smooth and got some of the most hilarious lines in the whole book :D He actually reminded me a little bit of Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber from Die Hard.

And finally yet another great thing that this book of course is its connection to Jane Eyre! To enjoy this book a love of Jane Eyre is by no means essential but it will certainly enhance your enjoyment of the story. Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favourite books and although neither Jane or Rochester got a huge amount of page-time in The Eyre Affair I still thought Jasper Fforde portrayed both of their characters extremely well. Unlike some authors out there I could care to mention (glares in the direction of Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea), Fforde clearly loves and respects Charlotte Bronte's book.

This book was hilarious, clever, imaginative, suspenseful, and a lot of fun. I loved it :)

Rating: 5/5


Lianne @ said...

I believe my review of this book is going live this coming week but haha, you and I have the same reaction about it: upon finishing it, I really wished I had gotten around to it sooner! It was hilarious and fascinating and inventive. Great review, glad you enjoyed it too :)

Hannah said...

Thank you so much! :) This has definitely been one of my favourite books that I've read this year!

Hamlette (Rachel) said...

This is one of my absolute favoritest books. The next three are absolutely awesome fun too! Then the fifth is kind of... off. And I haven't read the sixth yet. But I learned not long ago that he kind of conceived of the first four as one whole big long enormous connected story, which I think explains why the first four books rock and then the fifth feels like a sad sequel. I have hope that the sixth is better -- I'll get to it some time. Probably re-read the first five first :-)

Hannah said...

Hamlette - Have fun re-reading them! :) And yeah a lot of people have been saying that: that this book is great, that the next three are also really good, and then the series goes off. I don't think I'll be bothering with books five and six. It's nice! I used to be a real sticker for finishing every single series I started but it's quite liberating to think "You know what, I *don't* actually have to finish this series if I don't want to!"

Hamlette (Rachel) said...

Such a good point! I love the first four and should just be content with them :-)