I’m over a month behind on blogging the books that I’ve read, and The Eyre Affair is the reason why. It defies description, and I’ve been putting off trying to explain the plot for quite some time now! So, in the spirit of not being a perfectionist, and getting the hell on with blogging this challenge, I’ve decided not to.
Jasper Fforde is a man with an extremely dedicated fan base. Readers of the books actually have an annual event called the Fforde Ffestival inSwindon at which they celebrate the author and his books, and have activities and costumes that echo events in the Eyre Affair universe. What on earth, I hear you ask, can inspire that level of dedication in a reader?
Well the thing is, this is a book for literature geeks. It’s often referred to a genre-defying; if pushed I’d describe it as literary fantasy – literary in the literal, ‘about literature’ sense, not literary in the book snobbery sense. It’s the first in a series of impressively imaginative books in which the main character, Thursday Next, helps to police the BookWorld, despite the best efforts of its feisty, misbehaving occupants. All the books are full of genius ideas like a long held, bitter rivalry between Miss Havisham and the Red Queen, and the Cheshire Cat as the austere guardian of the Library, which holds the master copy of every book ever written. In other words, characterisation is hilariously inventive.
The main plot in this volume takes a while to really get going, and it’s unfortunate that at times the concept can feel a little too forced, a little gimmicky, a touch overdone. But each time you start to weary of it, another sharp twist in the plot or sharply self-aware literary in-joke pops up to distract you.
One of the best things about the series is that for every sly reference to a book that you love, there’s a mention of one you’ve never read, that you immediately add to your reading list.
Oh, and thank you, THANK YOU Jasper Fforde, for bothering to write a decent female lead. It’ll make it so much more fun when I play her in the film.