J’s Take on The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair CoverI’m not quite sure I knew what I was getting into when we decided to read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I’m not quite sure I knew what I was getting into when I started to read it. Or when I was in the middle of reading it. Or now that I’ve finished.

What the heck is this thing?!

Our library has labelled it Mystery. Which most likely means Fforde is typically a mystery writer. Because I can’t say there’s much of a mystery involved in this book, though there is a crime. I guess. Yet I can’t call it an alternate history either. Or science fiction. I would call it fantasy if I had to, but a fantasy reader would typically be disappointed by it. Then again, I can only assume a mystery reader would be completely confused!!

Then again again, I was completely confused!!

Just when you think you’ve got the world and the story figured out, it’d take a 90 or 180 degree turn. And not necessarily in a horizontal direction either. And to label it bizarre might make you think it was bizarre in a cool and interesting fashion. It’s not.

It’s just not.

So the premise? Okay, it’s 1985 for starters. Which normally wouldn’t be a problem for me, but it was just one more thing I had to keep reminding myself of. And it’s the UK. Erm, I think. Well, I guess not, really, since Wales is its own country. But, anyway, something resembling the UK. And it’s an alternate history, in that people are really obsessed with literature. By which is meant classic British literature for the most part, I think. Shakespeare is really big. And there are a couple of really cool points around this part of the premise. Shakespeare animatronic coin-op machines. The original manuscript of Jane Eyre being on display and a page turned every couple of days, so regulars can read it… verrry slowly. I liked that idea. It may even be true. And then there was a Rocky Horror Picture Show version of.. was it Richard III? Very big on audience participation.


The real author of Shakespeare's plays...


... is, of course, Tim Curry!

The main character is a SpecOps operative, LiteraTec, basically a book cop. And since the Dickens Chuzzlewit manuscript is stolen, well, it’s what she does, right? Or something.





So then to add to this premise, there’s a ChronoCorps, which does time travelly-fixy-uppy stuff. The main character’s Dad is one of those guys. And she ends up dabbling in it herself, of course. He tends to retroactively fit things into the time stream. So that bananas were genetically created and then planted back in the past. And things like that.

Do I need to even mention the blimps and the dodos? Probably not. Steampunk and alternative history readers won’t be at all phased by those. And, really, minor point. And nothing to do with anything.

11 days of The Doctor: Day 9

Great Source of Potassium

Okay, so have you got your mind wrapped around all that yet? Because there’s also vampires and werewolves for no good reason.

And the bad guy is like immortal or a wizard or something I don’t even.

AND THEN! The main char’s uncle is a crackpot mad scientist, but the lovable sort, you know, and he invents something to let you go into books and change the story. And if you change the story on the original manuscript OHNOES!

If this all sounds awesome to you, more power to you, go ahead and read it. If you’re just confused, then, believe me, reading it won’t make you less confused.

Aside from all of that, the story was not, I believe, very well-written. I was halfway through the book and I felt like we were still at the setting-up-the-story phase. Sometimes there’s be odd bits of text that.. well, I thought the main char was also narrating part of it, but how could she know what was going on? She sort of guessed things she wasn’t there for. And then when it came to the big climax, I was confused. Granted my mind was also wandering because I was bored.

And then I can also quibble that in one chapter there were two misuses of the word ‘onto’. And then later on there was the reverse problem with ‘near by’.

As for the characters themselves, I felt the main character was pretty detached from her emotions. Colleagues are killed and she doesn’t seem to really feel anything. She has conversations with a man she claims to love, but they’re all very analytical conversations. She’s even pretty detached and third person narraty when she’s giving a report to her superiors about something that went down. I mean, narraty in a pseudo-literary sort of way, not a detailed-police-report kind of way.

Jane Slayre Cover

Yea, I went there.

For the whole Jane Eyre thing, I have not read Jane Eyre. Yet when they discuss the ending of it and Eyre running off to India, I did kind of guess that was a false ending. This was pretty much confirmed for me by the way that the characters in the book (Jane Eyre) are forced to do and say things that you really don’t think they would have given the narrative of this book. Kind of like reading a parallel novel where, now that we know a lot more about the secondary character of the first book who is now the main character of the second book, you can’t quite believe that character would do and say the things s/he did, but the author’s kind of stuck with the scene the way it was written the first time.

Apparently there are more books about this main character, whose name is Thursday Next, which totally reminds me..

The names in here are stupid! And none more stupid than Jack Schitt.



So there are more books in this series, but I can only imagine what they’re about. Will Next be going into another book? Who knows? Will she be messing with the past? Travelling to the future? Fighting more vampires? Eating brains because she’s been turned into a zombie? Going to Mars on a recumbent bicycle? There is just no telling. None at all.

Before I close, I probably shouldn’t neglect the Crimean War. Which is still going on. But I know nothing about the real Crimean War. Except there was one. So. Yea.

In summation, not the worst thing I’ve ever read, but possibly the most uneven hodgepodge thing I’ve ever read. And I will not be reading another thing about Thursday Next. And probably not another Jasper Fforde either.