The Eyre Affair
by Jasper Fforde
Hodder Paperback 2001
Website - Thursday Next
I have seen a few mentions of this character called Thursday Next, and wondered what a Literature Detective actually did. Now I know. I spotted 2 books in this series on display at the bookshop and stopped to have a look. They looked good, and were going cheap so I grabbed them, plus a third one, and have just now finished the first book in the series.
This series starts off in England in 1985. Actually its an alternative history where the Crimea war never ended. Russia and England are still fighting over who will own Yalta and the Crimean peninsula.
The Special Operations Network was begun to handle policing duties considered too unusual or hush-hush to leave to the regular forces. There are 30 departments in the Special Operatives Network, starting from SO-1 (the equivalent to the Internal Affairs where the SO themselves are kept under a watchful eye) down to the Mundane SO-30 which handles Neighbourly Disputes.
Anything below SO-20 is restricted - although it is common knowledge that Antiterrorism is SO-9 and ChronoGuard is S0-12. Anything higher than SO-20 is public knowledge and considered not secret. These departments include Art Crime (SO-24) and Literary Detectives (SO-27) AKA LiteraTec, the department that Thursday Next works for.
In this first book, Thursday Next works for LiteraTec in London, but after the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit is stolen, 2 colleagues are killed because of an evil new enemy (named Archeron Hades). Thursday requests a transfer to the town of Swindon.
Upon her arrival in Swindon, Thursday has to deal with her family, her former boyfriend and the same arch enemy who kidnaps Thursdays Aunt & Uncle, steals the orginal manuscript of Jane Eyre and proceeds to rewrite the novel by removing Jane from the book. Every single copy of Jane Eyre immediately becomes nothing but a book with blank pages.
Thursday must go into the novel, find Mr Rochester and help restore the book to its former glory. Well almost it's former glory. In doing so she burns down Thornfield Hall, and helps Jane & Rochester to get married. And thereby creates a new ending. The orginal ending had Jane going off to India with her cousin St John Rivers. Once back in the real world, Thursday is greeted as a hero because everyone loves the new ending.
One of the reviews inside this book calls Fforde "this year's grown up J K Rowling". And yes, this book is sort of like the Harry Potter books, but using Time Travel instead of magic.
And thus we end up with time paradoxi. Where things and events become twisted and not making sense because of something that happened some place or some time else. There was a brief mention of the Second world war, but I'm not sure how exactly that could have happened against a long running war in the Black Sea that has been going on for well over 100 years.
Thursday's father is a ChronoGuard (SO-12). It was his job to keep the timeline straight and correct, but he seems to have changed something important, because he is now banished to another time, and can only drop into see Thursday for very quick 5 minute visits.
There are 4 books in this series, with a 5th book due out this year. I have 3 of the series, and cannot wait to read book number 2. But first I have a few others to read & review.
You need to be able to suspend reality and read this book with an open mind. If you can do that, you will enjoy this book for the ripping yarn that it is.
Thus endeth my Mystery Challenge.