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on January 11, 2013
What an incredibly fun book, and a great first entry into the Thursday Next series!

I am a huge fan of books about books. It’s very meta, I know, but when you love reading books about books are an added layer of brilliant on an already fun past time. So it was with great glee that I found the Thursday Next series on display at my local bookstore. I was drawn in by the cover art, read the back blurb of one and was instantly drawn in by the phrase “Thursday Next, literary detective”. I mean really, how can you not be intrigued by that premise?

So I bought the first book in the series. I didn’t read it right away. It sat idle for several months. But I picked it up a few weeks ago when another book I was reading just wasn’t cutting it. The Eyre Affair was my hope for respite from a book that had seemed like a chore, and what a lovely respite it was.

I won’t go into too many of the plot details because I don’t want to spoil it for future readers, but the broad view of it is that Thursday’s assistance is required when a well known criminal begins stealing the original manuscripts of a few well known classics and threatens to dangerously and permanently alter them…in a way the reader will not be expecting.

Besides the plot, the small details of the world of Thursday Next are brilliant in and of themselves, and brought me many smiles when I’d come across them. In Thursday’s world Wales is a Socialist country, blocked off from the rest of the world. The dodo bird is no longer extinct (thanks to scientific reproduction), and the characters have names like Braxton Hicks and Jack Schitts.

I highly recommend the Eyre Affair if you are looking for a fun, light read, and especially if you are a lover of books.
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on June 29, 2004
Don't bother reading this book if you are A, poorly read in basic English literature and/or B unappreciative of dry wit. Now that we've eliminated the apathetics, here's the review for the rest of us:
The Eyre Affair is a great love letter to the famous English authors of centuries past, notably Shakespeare, Bronte, Austen, Dickens, etc. Well not really - it's a clever alternate universe thriller in which Litratec investigator/enforcer Thursday Next takes on a case involving the kidnapping of some of the most beloved literary characters in British lore. You see, in Thursday's world, the supernatural is very often a natural part of everyday life; vampires and werewolves are regulated by a department very much like Animal Control, time travel -talented individuals are recruited for their services in government branches, and the integrity of national literary treasures is guarded zealously by top secret levels of those branches. I could love to live in this world were it not so chaotic, what with history being constantly tampered with by various factions and all. Even so, it's great fun to visit.
Author Jasper Fforde can be caught using this forum to stage literary debates and in-jokes, much to the delight of the Anglophile readers. In place of religious fanatics coming to one's door proselytizing, you have Baconians whose mission in life is to convince the world that Shakespeare's works were written by Francis Bacon. Fforde demonstrates a very British tendency to use proper names to lampoon a character. His prodigal creation of Thursday Next is an unlikely mixture of reserved-but-courageous traditional British heroines and modern pop culture action stars reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. Fittingly, Ms. Next's interesting life seems to parallel Jane's a little more closely than coincidence.
If there is one flaw in this book, it's that the reader is thrown into an alternate universe in which we are playing a lot of catch up thoughout the plot. This sometimes had the side effect of distracting me and sometimes it contributed to the humor. Perhaps the author should have included a prologue chapter which summarized the necessary backstory, but overall TEA is worth sticking to nonetheless.

The Eyre Affair is a great find, and I look forward to other tales from this adorably messy universe.
-Andrea, aka Merribelle
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on June 25, 2002
In his book, The Eyre Affair, the author Jasper Fforde has written a clever and humorous book which bookaholics will truly enjoy. Set in England in 1985, Mr. Fforde has taken certain liberties which provide the reader with an intiguing and unforgettable plot. Time travel and cloning which are both realities should delight readers in the imaginary world the author introduces us to. England is now a police state with the government divided into Special Operative Units with each Unit having a specific task. And in a book about books and characters from books, the author cleverly uses names of book related characters and authors for this books characters which provide some nice recollections of other books.
Thursday Next, the main characters of this book is a member of Special Operations, SO-27 the Literary Detective Division. Almost from the first page the reader is captivated by this feisty character who reminded me in some ways of an older Pippi Longstocking. Once a Corporal assigned as a driver to the Armored Brigade, Thursday saw first hand fierce and bloody battles in the Crimea where her brother also lost his life. Now in 1985, she spends her time finding those criminals who steal valuable editions of books or alter the characters which affect the outcome of the books. But her life away from work is rather mundane as she broods over her man who got away and is visited from time to time by her father, a time traveler who is out of favor with the government. But suddenly, things are heating up as prime characters are being murdered in books and when Jane Eyre is missing from the pages of this book, Thursday knows she has the biggest case of her life right in her hands. Helping her out are a wonderful cast of characters which include an executive for a powerful company up to no good, an arch villain with the name of Archeron Hades, Thursday's ex- lover, her father whose "face could stop a clock" and even Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre herself. What takes place in the rest of the book is a roller coaster ride filled with many hilarious and unusual book moments.
Mr. Fforde has crafted an innovative plot which is successfully achieved by his equally wonderful characters. The best part is the recent announcement that the author's next book will continue with the life and times of Thursday Next and I for one will be happy to see what she has been up to. This reader always likes to have something to look forwrd to and I can't think of anything better than another title by Jasper Fforde.
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on February 22, 2004
Thursday Next enjoys her job as a literary detective in London's branch of the Special Ops. Her job is interesting, tracking down literary forgers and keeping competing cults of literary fanatics from going to far to prove their points. The most excitement her life sees is the occasional visit of her father who pops in for a few minutes at a time as he stays on the run through time.
Her life changes when a priceless Dickens original manuscript is changed. Suddenly, she finds herself on the trail of Acheron Hades, the third most wanted criminal in the world. With his special powers, he's almost impossible to capture. Transferring to Swindon, she finds her paths crossing with a former flame. Will love rekindle? Meanwhile, Hades is holding the characters of Dickens' novel hostage and threatening to kill them. Can Thursday figure out a way to stop him before he ruins some classic works of literature?
This is a wonderful Fantasy Adventure novel. The alternate world of 1985 presented here is a great place to escape. The idea of crossing between reality and works of fiction is something I've never seen done before but often dreamed of doing and is handled here quite well. The novel started quite slowly, with what I was expecting to have happen not really getting going until the second half. It also helps to be more familiar with literature then I am to fully appreciate this book. Still, this is an imaginative tale well told.
Here is a book that readers will truly appreciate and a fantasy novel that literary fans will have to read. I'll certainly be back to check out the further adventures of Thursday Next.
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on April 13, 2004
When a valuable original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit is stolen, LiteraTec Operative Thursday Next is after the thief--a brilliant former professor of hers who went terribly, terribly bad. Acheron Hades has mysterious powers over his enemies. Bullets bounce off of him. In short, he is just about the most evil man on earth, and soon to be the most powerful. For his plan isn't just to sell the manuscript or hold it for ransom. Thanks to a device invented by Thursday's uncle, Hades can actually kidnap characters from the original manuscript--even kill them--rendering every copy of the novel virtually blank or hideously corrupted.
When the Chuzzlewit manuscript burns, Hades sets his sights on Jane Eyre, kidnapping Jane and causing the novel to end abruptly in the middle. Thursday must chase Hades into the novel herself. Aided by her time-traveling fugitive father, a couple of loyal fellow agents, a corporation bent on world domination, and even Rochester himself, she matches wits with the most diabolical villain I've seen in a long time. But her interference in the novel's fabric has unintended results, which are beautiful to behold as the ending unfolds.
The Eyre Affair is a fantasy novel like none I've ever read. It's set in the recent past (1985) in England, but because of the alternate history established by the author, the setting is hardly recognizable. The Crimean war is still raging after 130 years, time travel and gene splicing are routine, no one has ever heard of Winston Churchill (he died as a child), and people travel by blimp rather than jet. England and Wales are separated by something like the Berlin Wall. And everywhere, people take literature very seriously. Fans of various authors and poets form special-interest groups with political aspirations and sometimes terrorist plots. Literary crimes such as forgery and plagiarism require an entire section of Special Operations devoted to capturing offenders.
Author Jasper Fforde just has an incredible imagination, with delights on every page, well-rounded characters, and even a nifty romance. This is one of the best books I've read this year, and I the others in the series (there are four so far) are on my shopping list.
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on June 2, 2004
Imagine if Raymond Chandler melded with Douglas Adams to produce a sci-fi hardball detective mystery replete with literary references, and you'd have something like The Eyre Affair. The book takes place in a strange version of 1980's England, where the Crimean war has been going on for over hundred years, where Baconians knock on your door to try to convert you to their view of Shakespearean authorship, where a special operations squad exists explicitly to investigate literary crimes, and where the Chronoguard has the ability to travel through time. The novel follows the adventures of Thursday Next, a LiteraTech who is caught up in the hunt for arch criminal Acheron Hades, who is determined to abduct and ransom fictional characters, notably Jane Eyre. The book is not at all academic in tone; it reads like a fast, enjoyable work of popular fiction, but you have to be well read to appreciate it. If you are familiar with the English classics you will have a good sense of what is transpiring, and you will be able to pick up on various clues and enjoy the "inside" literary jokes.
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on May 10, 2003
this book is almost too clever for its own good. almost. thursday next, the heroine with a past, engages in a genre-jumping, hair raising, time traveling adventure that will warm the cockles of bookworms everywhere. thursday pursues the second most wanted man in england, the perfectly named archeron hades, as he sets out to destroy national literary treasures by altering original manuscripts. fforde pulls from so many different genres to assemble "the eyre affair" that the assigned categories of "science fiction" and "fantasy" are certainly underinclusive. however, he does create a very complete and convincing world for the story to take place within - the hallmark of any decent fantasy book. i wish that the characters had been developed more, but i suspect that that is what the rest of the series is for...
book lovers will delight in the hundreds of literary allusions (both subtle and blatant), as well as the epigraphs. i especially liked the teasing snippets from thursday's autobiography. fforde's digs at government secrecy and the blurred line between corporate power and government power are both humorous and incisive. good stuff all around.
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on June 21, 2003
This is a tad bizarre, but still really good. The first few pages are confusing but DO NOT give it up, because you are giving up at something really good. You have to work at things if you want to be rewarded; you should definitely work at this.
Thursday Next is a LiteraTech agent in the SpecOps, something like the police. She lives in England, but in the England of a different world where there are dodos and time machines. And evil villian by the name of Hades has stolen the book Jane Eyre. (In England, you must understand, there is a greater appreciation for the literal and theatrical arts than in America, and in this England there is an even GREATER appreciation.) You might think, so what, he stole a book. But he plans to take Jane Eyre out of the story with the Prose Portal, a special machine that allows one to go into books. And his copy of Jane Eyre is the original meaning all books will be effected.
So Thursday has to stop him.
I thought it was a brilliant book. There is much more to it than this plot, and in the sequel you get to meet other great literary figures like Miss Havisham (Great Expectations) and Marianne Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility). My only suggestion is that you read Jane Eyre before you read this. Of course The Eyre Affair can be read without any knowledge of Jane Eyre, but it tells you the whole story line of Bronte's novel and if you have already read Jane Eyre you'll feel more in touch, perhaps, with the characters.
But all in all this book is "fab". And it's also got romance in it, and action, fantasy, sci fi, and lots of humor.
Oh, and keep an eye out on the names, they usually mean something.
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on February 10, 2004
I really expected more from this book, based on the reviews which drew me to it. At the risk of sounding "snobby", I will admit that I had hoped for a lot of "in-jokes" and witty wordplay. But unless you are completely unfamiliar with the likes of Shakespeare, Austen, Wordsworth, etc. the literary references will not seem especially esoteric (and even if you are, don't worry, because Fforde will spell out for you exactly who they are). Anyone who completed high school English (and paid attention) probably has about as much literary knowledge as Fforde displays in this book. Likewise, the writing is not especially clever, although it does read comfortably.
My other reason for disliking the book so much has to do with characterizations, or lack thereof. Thursday Next is the only charater that Fforde even makes an attempt to develop (others, such as a pure-evil nemesis, a silly younger brother, and a bitchy love-rival are I hope supposed to be caricatures). But she is not particularly appealing, and a novel like this needs an appealing heroine. Instead, we get Thursday: a rather emotionally detached literary detective whose humanity is only revealed through a romance that she herself thwarted (and keeps thwarting). Ugh.
When purchasing this book, I noted that there were a few minority opinions similar to what I am now writing. I chose to ignore them and went with the consensus view. Please don't make the same mistake I did. Not that I regret the time or money spent reading it (it cost very little of both) but rather it was the disappointment of expecting a great read only to be hit with a mediocre one that caused the book to leave such a sour taste in my mouth.
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on February 19, 2003
The popular fiction winds are blowing pretty stale these days, with Tom Clancy nancies, Bridget Jones clones, and Patricia Cornwell believing her own press.
But here's Jasper Fforde, who takes us to a world where literature is so important that little kids drop dimes into machines that quote Shakespeare and a Saturday night performance of Richard the Third can only be compared to a lively showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I generally like my detective fiction with a little more... detection. (If you already know who did it, why read the rest of the book???) But if you treat this book as an adventure story instead of a mystery, it's totally satisfying.
If I have one problem with this book, it's that the love interest is bland and cardboard. But hey, it pretty much has everything else: Time travel, dirigibles, bookworms that eat the punctuation off the page you're reading, a free Welsh republic, the charge of the light brigade, and a few vampires thrown in for good measure.
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