Monday, January 23, 2012

The Eyre Affair

Book Review

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I have never read Fforde before now. I didn't even know the author existed. But a friend recommended him to me.

This is the first book in a series of currently six books, with the promise of a seventh, all with the same protagonist, Thursday Next.

This also happens to be the author's first novel.

Since the writing of The Eyre Affair, he has written many more novels, several of which are parts of trilogies.

The Eyre Affair

The story is set clearly in England, but the history of the location is clearly different than the history you and I studied in school. Here, Scotland is a distinct country and relations between the two neighbors is not friendly and open.

The author makes liberal adjustments to all kinds of historical world affairs and literary allusions abound. This is fabulous if you are well versed in both history and literature. I can't quite say that I am. I couldn't tell if I was supposed to recognize that the portrayed history was different than our actual history or if I would recognize it as actual history. I just don't know history very well. Or classic literature all that well.

But I have read Jane Eyre and I strongly recommend reading this book only after you have read it too. The differences between what is in this story and the original will only be apparent to those who have read the original in its entirety.

Our protagonist is named Thursday Next and she is a member of Special Operations. I'm still not sure what all SpecOps does, but lots of highly secretive or highly significant government operations, or both, are handled by this apparently government protection agency.

Not only is the history portrayed by this story different than our own, so is time. Time travel is quite present and intertwined in this story.

All of these variants from our reality make for an intriguing storyline. Actually, the storyline itself is rather unique. In general, time moves forward for us in a straight line, with the occasional flashback to tell some back story, but we are thrown all sorts of tangents to the plot. The back story comes to us it bits and pieces and in no apparent order. You might say this is one grand ride. But I won't.

I'm not a fan of disjointed flashbacks and random tangents to to the plot. But, in the end, it does come around full circle.

Still, this is not your average novel. It's more like inviting Jack Bauer (from the "24" television series) to jump into bit of science fiction, tossed with a bit of James Bond (shaken, not stirred), and folding in a bit of your college literature class.

Interesting to say the least.

If you are looking for something quite different, give this a try. You are likely to be surprised, in way or another.

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