Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Great Reread Project Mark III - The Letter F

I was definitely in a bit of a rereading slump (the last 3 letters turned into DNF's effectively), so I decided to go back to an old favourite.

Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair has been one of my favourites from the first time I picked it up when it was originally published. I've read it a number of times and I even gave my original copy to a friend when she went overseas. I have since replaced it.

To be honest I don't think I'd ever encountered a book quite like The Eyre Affair. It's fairly extraordinary, especially as a debut novel. It's a love letter to literature. It isn't necessary to be widely read to enjoy The Eyre Affair, but it does help and if a reader doesn't at least have a decent working knowledge of the plot of Jane Eyre, then they're not going to get one of the book's main jokes.

Being a child of the 80's I quite liked and saw the fun of Thursday Next's alternate 1985. How alternate? The Crimean War is still raging nearly 130 years after it ended in our reality, extinct animals like dodos have been cloned and make good house pets, and these people love their classic literaure: performances of Richard III are like repeat screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in our world (I think the audience participation screenings have largely died out now, but they were big in the 80's).

The plot is pretty out there. Arch villain Acheron Hades has stolen Jane Eyre from her book and os holding her to ransom from a literature loving public, and it's up to feisty LiteraTec operative Thursday Next to get her back. She will travel through time, into Wales, and the world of fiction itself to save Jane and her uncle Mycroft.

It was a wonderful and original excursion, and it never pales on subsequent rereads. Fforde was quite prolific for a number of years after writing the book. He wrote 6 further Thursday Next novels, the related Nursery Crimes duology, 3 volumes of the YA series The Last Dragonslayer, and the first book of a planned trilogy Shades of Grey. He hasn't published anything since 2014, but is supposed to have 3 books scheduled for release in 2018, including the long awaited second book in the Shades of Grey series (I've heard about that one before, so I'll believe it when I actually see it).

If G is anywhere near as good as F, I'm back in business in this reread and will have temporarily banished the suck fairy.

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