What kind of world would it be if Jane Eyre had never married Mr Rochester, at the conclusion of the Charlotte Brontë classic, Jane Eyre? I would imagine it would be quite a disappointing world. Welcome to alternate-reality 1985 – the world of Thursday Next. A literary detective investigating a case involving a master forger of literary classics, which are ending up on the book black market. But when the original manuscript of the Dickens classic, Martin Chuzzlewit is stolen, Thursday finds herself on the trail of a mysterious and magical criminal who has found the means to kidnap characters from books and in doing so, altering the storyline of the book. When Jane Eyre herself disappears from copies of her book all over the world, the pressure is on to find this master criminal before Jane disappears from her book forever.
It’s difficult not to love a book about books. And personally, I think that alternate-reality 1985 sounds a lot more exciting and interesting than the reality that we live in. Vampires and werewolves are not uncommon, air travel is taken by air ship (not aeroplanes), extinct animals such as dodos are walking the earth again and the great authors are the subject of almost religious praise. The author of The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde, has created an alternate reality that despite some of the far fetched plot lines, is in many ways, very believable. Why should’t there be an alternate reality where time travel is possible and you can create a pet dodo in a test tube? I believe that if Fforde had not included so many unlikely ideas in the book, it would not have worked half as well – if you’re going to have one crazy idea in your story, you might as well go for it and make the whole thing crazy. Makes much more sense to me!
I really enjoyed the writing in this book. Fforde has a wonderfully conversational writing style, which reminded me a little of JK Rowling. The story itself moved along at a reasonable pace, there weren’t very many moments that dragged on and there was always something to keep my interest. I could guess the overall outcome of the book quite early on, but having said that, getting to the end was a real adventure and there were a few unexpected moments that kept me turning the pages. Overall, The Eyre Affair was a wonderfully light and quick read with some great characters and beautifully imaginative writing. I look forward to reading more adventures of Thursday Next in alternate 1985.
RATING – 9 out of 10.
WHO SHOULD READ IT – If you read JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy and enjoyed it, you will probably like this as well, purely based on the writing style. If you’re after a light and entertaining read, you will definitely not be disappointed by The Eyre Affair.
WHO YOU’LL LOVE – I really enjoyed the occasional appearances made by Thursday’s father. A fugitive time-traveller, he always turns up at the most inopportune moments, completely oblivious to his poor timing.