by Jasper Fforde
Imagine, if you will, a world in which England (not the UK) is still fighting the Crimean War and facing birder skirmishes with the People’s Republic of Wales; where airships are still ambling across the ski ways; where re-engineered Dodos are the favourite family pet; and where special government departments police literature and time. And just as your head begins to ache, imagine a world where no one bats an eye when the hero introduces herself as Thursday Next!
If you find these things unimaginable then “The Eyre Affair” is probably best avoided. But, if you can get your head around these ideas then grab yourself a copy and step into one of the most bizarre, entertaining and original books I have read for some time.
The afore mentioned Thursday Next is an agent for the Literary Detective Agency of the Special Operations Network, or SpecOps 27 for short. Her job is to police the lucrative literacy market that has been infiltrated by criminal gangs. Not a role that normally involves car chases, gun fights, kidnappings and murder, but with a new “Mr Big” on the scene things begin to take a more sinister turn. And it is Thursday’s job to bring him down.
In this alternative version of 1985, England is virtually controlled by the Goliath Corporation whose influence in every aspect of government and the media make them as bad as the villains themselves.
Told mainly in the first person, Thursday’s adventures are full of the kind of twists, turns and betrayals you would expect of a good detective story, but Jasper Fforde is no ordinary writer, and Thursday Next is no ordinary detective.
The world Jasper has created is full of wonderful characters and the alternative history he has created is oddly believable. I found the book difficult to put down, and not because it had been glued to my hands! The style is somewhat reminiscent of early Tom Holt, with great characters you can have some empathy for and a plot that is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t already read the book. Bizarre, funny, imaginative and great fun.
“The Eyre Affaire” is the first in a series of books following the adventures of Thursday Next. I for one will be on the lookout for the next instalment.