The first novel in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, The Eyre Affair, is a lot of fun for book lovers, particularly those fond of British literature. The novel is set in Britain in 1985 in an alternative timeline in which England is still fighting with Russia over the Crimea, Wales is a communist state, and dodos are popular household pets thanks to some fancy DNA resurrection. Thursday Next, the the novel’s protagonist, is a Special Operations Literature Detective and a veteran of the Crimea. Her life and career is turned upside down when she encounters the dangerous villain, Acheron Hades, who holds some of literature’s most popular characters for ransom and threatens their very existence.
The novel is a lot of fun, and I think fans of Dickens (whose novel Martin Chuzzlewit is first to be threatened) and Jane Eyre will enjoy the book. It’s rife with literary in-jokes and allusions. It’s also an action-adventure full of twists and turns. A couple of dropped threads prevented me from feeling completely satisfied with the book, but it could be that Fforde ties those ends up in future books in the series. At any rate, I enjoyed it enough that I ran right out and picked up the sequel, Lost in a Good Book, which will be my next book.