The Eyre Affair is a weird and wonderful ride, but probably not everyone's cup of tea.
The Eyre Affair is set in Great Britain circa 1985, but not the Great Britain of our timeline. There’s a secret service branch which deals with time travel, recreational cloning of extinct animals is a fashion trend and literature is taken incredibly seriously.
Thursday Next is a Lit-Tech agent, who spends her time tracking literature forgers, hoping for a promotion which is unlikely to come. Until Acheron Hades, Third Most Wanted Man In the World steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and kills a minor character. That character then disappears from every volume of the novel ever printed! Thursday next must uncover how he’s achieved this, rescue her aunt and uncle from his clutches and rescue England’s most beloved book, Jane Eyre.
I thought the protagonist Thursday Next was a wonderfully complex female character. She was a soldier in the Crimean war before joining Lit-Tech and is left with a lot of emotional scars which makes her very real. As is her complicated relationship with her once boyfriend, Landen.
And you cannot deny Jasper Fforde creates a wholly unique world. There are suggestions planted that the source of this divergence with what we know today is from ‘French revisionists’, whoever they may be. Time is definitely out of whack. On the plus side, this has lead to the cloning of dodo birds. I now desperately want a dodo pet. And like every alternative world that has ever been, there are airships aplenty.
As someone who loves sci-fi and fantasy, I found the world really hard to get into. There seemed to be some barrier between me and Thursday’s world and I’m not sure why. I just wasn’t feeling it! Although I do love the idea that the whole world takes literature far more seriously than it does in the real world.
I did enjoy the story, but to be honest, I felt like I suffered slightly for not knowing Jane Eyre. Yes, I’ve never read it. Please don’t throw anything at me, it’s on my list to read I swear. (Note: three weeks after writing this, I read Jane Eyre and fell in love with it.)
The Eyre Affair has earned a 3-star rating. It was interesting, but I don’t really feel compelled to read it again. It just didn’t hit the right level for me. However, this is the first in a long series of Thursday Next books where the concept of living literature is only just introduced. My hope is the next book, Lost in a Good Book, will move the concept on slightly.