Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - September 13, 2002
Every once in a while a book comes along that really tickles you. The Eyre Affair was, for me, one such book. Part mystery and part science fiction, The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde, follows the exploits of Thursday Next. Ms. Next is a member of Special Operations - the Literary Detective Division (OS-27). In other words, she is a LiteraTec based in England, and she carries a gun.
As a LiteraTec, Next hunts down literary forgers, works on thefts of works of literature, and rounds up literary militants. Basically, if something illegal happens surrounding a work of fiction, she may be called in to investigate to the crime. Next served with distinction in the Crimea (in Next's world the Crimean war has been going on for over 100 years!) Her military experience, her work in the police force, and her career in the OS-27 has prepared her for almost any eventuality. But what can ever prepare you for a foe who has demonic powers?
When the original Martin Chuzzlewit is stolen, Next is called in to investigate the puzzling crime. The manuscript was kept in a secure location, under glass, and the case was kept under constant video surveillance. Nonetheless, the manuscript was stolen without anyone showing up on the film, and the glass on the case was not broken or removed - yet the irreplaceable copy of Martin Chuzzlewit was gone!
In short order, Next is drafted, temporarily, into the super-secret OS-5 to help track down Acheron Hades, her former college professor. Hades is a master criminal who takes pleasure in killing, and Next is the only one left alive that can identify him. And Next soon discovers that he has had a hand in the disappearance of the Martin Chuzzlewit manuscript. With heart racing action, Next tracks tries to track Hades down, through time and through the pages of various literary works. And, at every turn she finds that she is tripping over Colonel Schitt, the representative for the Goliath Corporation, a huge conglomerate that has nefarious plans of its own.
Into this mix of evil villains, evil corporate executives, murder, theft, time travel (Next's father is, or was, a member of the Chrono-Guard, but now he travels through time 'fixing' things), one eccentric inventor, and the odd werewolf - Next discovers that literary characters are being murdered! And when someone goes into, literally, a manuscript and changes it - the text is changed for all times. When Jane Eyre is kidnaped from the pages of her book, Next must go into the story, and with the help of Rochester, set the story to rights.
Next is a delightful heroine, and Hades a thrilling adversary that truly challenges Next. The story is unique, fun to read, and a real treat for anyone who happens to love science fiction just as much as they do Victorian Literature. However, you don't need to be a vic lit fan to enjoy this book, all that is required is a sense of adventure and a willingness to immerse yourself into an alternate reality where time travel, cloning (Next has a pet Dodo bird), and demonic creatures are everyday facts of life. The Eyre Affair is well plotted, the pace is fast, and the story riveting. I truly hope that Fforde allows Next to once again grace the pages of a book as I eagerly look forward to seeing what new predicaments she gets into - and best yet, how she gets out of them!
Lost in a Good Book, By Jasper Fforde.
In the second installment of the Thursday Next saga, Detective Next is blackmailed into going into Poe's The Raven and releasing a nefarious agent from the pages of the story where he has been imprisoned. If she succeeds, the blackmailers have promised to unkill her husband... (Large Print)
The Well of Lost Plots, By Jasper Fforde.
In book three of the Thursday Next saga, we find Thursday taking a much needed vacation break in the unpublished book, Caversham Heights. She is still trying to have her husband unkilled, which is the least of her problems. Not only does she have to battle morning sickness, but someone is killing off Jurisfiction officers. Can Thursday stop the killer? Or will she be the next victim? (Large Print)