“The barriers between reality and fiction are softer than we think; a bit like a frozen lake. Hundreds of people can walk across it, but then one evening a thin spot develops and someone falls through; the hole is frozen over by the following morning.” (The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde)
In this strange combination of literary commentary and science fiction, Jasper Fforde concocts a world where time and history have been unraveled and, for whatever reason, society worships excellent literature. Neither are explained adequately, but I assume that we will get hints and pieces as the series goes on. While it may not all make sense, the zany world does offer up the opportunity for some pretty stunning and mind-boggling events: Thursday Next gets to live with the characters of Jane Eyre, dodos run wild, and post-modern social media tendencies meet Shakespeare plays.
I must warn anyone who wishes to attempt it that Fforde definitely prizes creativity and the absurd over cohesive plot-lines and character-building here. My imagination could never conceive all of the things Fforde packs into this short novel on its own, and the sheer audacity of some of his inventions makes the reader laugh aloud, but it was also hard to feel connected to the characters or satisfied when the bad guy is finally vanquished. I would recommend this to someone who loves classic literature (so that they would ‘get’ all of the inside jokes) and is looking to transition to science fiction, or maybe someone who loves science fiction, but has grown wary of its tropes and traditions.
Buy – Borrow – TBR – Avoid
Length: 400 pages
Further reading: You should read Jane Eyre before reading this book – I actually hadn’t, and I think it lessened my overall appreciation for its genius. If you a fan of Fford’s and children’s lit, I just fond out that he is publishing a children’s series called The Chronicles of Kazam – it looks well worth checking out.