Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next Series #2)

Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next Series #2)

4.3 89
by Jasper Fforde
     
 

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The second installment in Jasper Fforde’s New York Times bestselling series follows literary detective Thursday Next on another adventure in her alternate reality of literature-obsessed England


The inventive, exuberant, and totally original literary fun that began with The Eyre Affair continues with New York Times

Overview

The second installment in Jasper Fforde’s New York Times bestselling series follows literary detective Thursday Next on another adventure in her alternate reality of literature-obsessed England


The inventive, exuberant, and totally original literary fun that began with The Eyre Affair continues with New York Times bestselling author Jasper Fforde’s magnificent second adventure starring the resourceful, fearless literary sleuth Thursday Next. When Landen, the love of her life, is eradicated by the corrupt multinational Goliath Corporation, Thursday must moonlight as a Prose Resource Operative of Jurisfiction—the police force inside the BookWorld. She is apprenticed to the man-hating Miss Havisham from Dickens’s Great Expectations, who grudgingly shows Thursday the ropes. And she gains just enough skill to get herself in a real mess entering the pages of Poe’s “The Raven.” What she really wants is to get Landen back. But this latest mission is not without further complications. Along with jumping into the works of Kafka and Austen, and even Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, Thursday finds herself the target of a series of potentially lethal coincidences, the authenticator of a newly discovered play by the Bard himself, and the only one who can prevent an unidentifiable pink sludge from engulfing all life on Earth. It’s another genre-bending blend of crime fiction, fantasy, and top-drawer literary entertainment for fans of Douglas Adams and P. G. Wodehouse. Thursday’s zany investigations continue with The Well of Lost Plots. Look for the five other bestselling Thursday Next novels, including One of Our Thursdays is Missing and Jasper Fforde’s latest bestseller, The Woman Who Died A Lot. Visit jasperfforde.com for a ffull window into the Ffordian world!

Editorial Reviews

Tuesday Next, the hero of The Eyre Affair, is back in another ingenious adventure. In Lost in a Good Book, our delightful literary interloper ventures into forbidding classics from Edgar Allan Poe to Beatrix Potter. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times described this novel as "part Bridget Jones, part Nancy Drew and part Dirty Harry."
The New York Times
It may be that Fforde has succeeded in doing for the anxieties of 21st-century book lovers -- nagged by the feeling that perhaps they aren't getting as swept away by books as they used to -- what Helen Fielding did for the anxieties of the 30-something single urban female. In attempting to come up with an adult Harry Potter, he may also have stumbled across that other Holy Grail of modern fiction, the male-friendly (or at least the gender-neutral) Bridget Jones -- which, for everyone but Fforde's accountant, is a fairly terrifying prospect. — Bruno Maddox
The Washington Post
In the long and fabulous tradition of British nonsense, Jasper Fforde, though only on his second book, has already earned a place of honor. — Lloyd Rose
Publishers Weekly
Det. Thursday Next is back for another round of time traveling and bookish sleuthing after Fforde's successful debut, The Eyre Affair. Like his earlier novel, this one is set in the U.K., in an alternate version of our universe-one in which time travel is possible and the boundaries between life and literature are porous. Thursday works for Special Ops in the Literary Detectives division. She's made an enemy of the corrupt Goliath Corporation, which manufactures absolutely everything, by imprisoning one of its executives, Jack Schitt, in the pages of Poe's The Raven. In return, the corporation eradicates her new husband, Landen. Since no one really dies in this chronologically fluid universe, Landen could be restored-but Goliath won't do it until Thursday brings back Schitt. But rescuing Schitt is easier said than done-Poe's oeuvre is dangerous territory. Thursday enlists the help of Great Expectations' Miss Havisham, who works for the intra-literature police force, Jurisfiction, and the two leap into the pages of Kafka's The Trial, Austen's Sense and Sensibility and Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Thursday also finds time to authenticate Cardenio, a newly discovered Shakespeare tragedy, and save the world from being engulfed by an oozing pink sludge. Time flies-and leaps and zigzags-while reading this wickedly funny and clever fantasy. Would-be wordsmiths and mystery fans will find the surreal genre-buster irresistible. 12-city author tour. (Mar.) Forecast: Are there enough English lit lovers to send this book aloft? If the author is as funny in person as he is on the page, his book tour may increase the cult that began with rave reviews for The Eyre Affair. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Fear not, literature lovers! Thursday Next is back with another romp through Fforde's alterna-England, where books are followed as closely as we follow J. Lo, dodos are friendly pets, and it is truly possible to get lost in a book; fortunately, Next and her cronies in law enforcement will make sure one gets out before one ruins the plot. Picking up where The Eyre Affair left off, this book finds Thursday caught up in a new adventure that pops her through time and literature, including works by Poe, Austen, and Beatrix Potter. This time she must not only find a way to get her husband back from the clutches of the Goliath conglomerate but also save the world from destruction by a mysterious pink goo. Though slightly less buoyant than its predecessor, this is still a joyful read, full of puns, allusions, and sheer fun. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/02.]-Devon Thomas, Hass MS&L, Ann Arbor, MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In an alternate 1980s England, woolly mammoths migrate through the countryside, Tunbridge Wells has been given to Imperial Russia as Crimean War reparation, and the prevailing culture is based on literature. Due to her adventures in The Eyre Affair (Viking, 2002), newly married Thursday Next has become a media darling, but when an unknown work by Shakespeare surfaces, she is happy to be back to work. However, the megacorporation Goliath hasn't finished bedeviling her: Thursday's husband has been "time-slipped" and exists only in her memory. Further complicating matters, her Uncle Mycroft gives her an entroposcope-a jar of lentils and rice-revealing that the chaos in her life is rapidly escalating. So once again, Thursday jumps into a surreal literary world. This time, she has joined the "Jurisfiction" division and is paired with Charles Dickens's Miss Havesham, who has a penchant for leather jackets and driving recklessly. Absurd and amusing scenes take readers through discussions on theoretical physics, geometry, literature, art, and philosophy. Fforde not only tilts at ideological and insipid corporate windmills and human foibles, but can also make the naming of minor characters hilarious, as in the two unfortunate members of the dangerous SO-5 division, Phodder and Kannon. Reading this novel is like being at a fabulous party of phenomenally funny and wickedly profound guests. Teens will delight in the satire and wit.-Jane Halsall, McHenry Public Library District, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A lively, pun-packed sequel to the Welsh novelist's debut, The Eyre Affair (2002). Here, his lissome literary detective once again prowls the mean streets and elusive texts of classic English literature. We're back in Fforde's Alternate Wales, 1985, when previously endangered species (e.g., dodos, woolly mammoths) thrive, the vast and sinister Goliath Corporation fulfills every imaginable need, and literature has replaced pop culture as the people's chosen opiate. As "Baconians" wreak havoc defending their favorite's authorship of Shakespeare's plays and Richard III draws Rocky Horror Picture Show-like participatory audiences, Thursday, a veteran of the never-ending Crimean War, finds herself enmeshed in numerous baffling intrigues. Her new husband, writer Landen Parke-Laine, has been "deleted" (perhaps by Goliath bigwigs revenging themselves on Thursday for imprisoning their op Jack Schitt in the text of Poe's "The Raven"). And Thursday, aware that "without entry to books I would never see Landen again," goes bravely off into bookdom-abetted and hindered here and there by her hardboiled partner Bowden Cable, her time-traveling dad, and post-centenarian "Gran" (condemned to live until she has read "the ten most boring classics"). Denied access to the normal means of entry to literary works (the Prose Portal), Thursday finagles her way inside such texts as Kafka's The Trial and Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, enduring meaningful encounters with such worthies as a bookwormy Cheshire Cat and an unusually extroverted Miss Havisham (from Great Expectations, of course). And, oh yes, Thursday must also deal with a newly discovered Shakespeare play (Cardenio) and a mammoth stampede. Just as shedid in Eyre, Thursday preserves the integrity of embattled masterpieces, ending up gracefully poised for the next forthcoming sequel (announced in an endnote), The Well of Lost Plots. Fans of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels should check out Fforde's engagingly skewed comic utopia. As one of his characters predicts: the likely result will be "paroxysms of litjoy." Author tour. Agents: Eric Simonoff & Tif Loehnis/Janklow & Nesbit
From the Publisher
“[A]n analogue of Harry Potter just for, adults…effortlessly readable and unashamedly escapist…. [A]n immensely enjoy able, almost compulsive experience.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Fforde [has a] head-spinning narrative agility. His novel is satire, fantasy, literary criticism, thriller, whodunit, game, puzzle, joke, postmodern prank and tilt-a-whirl. Okay, maybe Lost in a Good Book is a creature with more than the usual number of feet. But it’s exceptionally light on all of them…[Fforde] is irrepressible good company” —The Washington Post

“Enchanting…a tale to savor. Harry Potter fans outgrowing Hogwarts should dive in.” —People

“Lost [ in a Good Book] is even more richly crammed with jokes, ideas and action. Brainier silliness is hard to find. A-.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Car chases, missing husbands, evil villains, a plucky heroine, and the Cheshire Cat. Jasper Fforde’s latest is mystery at its most fun—with a sci-fi twist.” —Marie Claire

“A joyful read, full of puns, allusions, and sheer fun. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal

“Time flies—and leaps and zigzags—while reading this wickedly funny and clever fantasy. Would-be wordsmiths and mystery fans will find the surreal genre-buster irresistible.” —Publishers Weekly

“Just what the doctor ordered now, in a world under the shadow of war, at the tail end of a long, cold winter…Lost in a Good Book resembles whipped cream—as sweet and light as the promise of spring.” —Salon.com

“Entertainingly surreal. Perhaps even more clever than its predecessor [The Eyre Affair], the new story offers a plot stuffed with enough coincidences and characters to make Dickens proud.” —Orlando Sentinel

“The book-jumping high jinks continue in Fforde’s equally whimsical Lost in a Good Book… its mix of surrealism, satire and adventure proves to be totally absorbing.” —Time Out New York

“Fforde’s wicked sense of humor and wide-ranging intelligence make every page a joy.” —The New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Fforde packs Lost in a Good Book to the rafters with sophisticated literary allusions, numerous interweaving subplots and wildly imaginative details. It’s obvious from the way he leaves things that Fforde has many more adventures in mind for his heroine; and with so many classics to choose from, Thursday will certainly have plenty of allies on her side.” —The Seattle Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101158111
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/24/2004
Series:
Thursday Next Series , #2
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
54,757
File size:
594 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

1.
The Adrian Lush Show

Sample viewing figures for major TV networks in England, September 1985

NETWORKTOAD
The Adrian Lush Show (Wednesday) (Chat show) 16,428,316
The Adrian Lush Show (Monday) (Chat show) 16,034,921
Bonzo the Wonder Hound (Canine thriller) 15,975,462

MOLETV
Name That Fruit! (Answer questions for cash prizes) 15,320,340
65 Walrus Street (Soap opera; Episode 3,352) 14,315,902
Dangerously Dysfunctional People Argue Live on TV (Chat show) 11,065,611

OWLVISION
Will Marlowe or Kit Shakespeare? (Literary quiz show) 13,591,203
One More Chance to See! (Reverse extinction show) 2,321,820

GOLIATH CABLE CHANNEL (1 TO 32)
Whose Lie Is It Anyway? (Corporate comedy quiz show) 428
Cots to Coffins: Goliath. All you'll ever need. (Docuganda) 9 (disputed)

NEANDERTHAL CABLE NETWORK 4
Powertool Club Live (Routers and power planers edition) 9,032
Jackanory Gold (Jane Eyre edition) 7,219

Warwick Fridge,
The Ratings War

I DIDN'T ASK to be a celebrity. I never wanted to appear on The Adrian Lush Show. And let's get one thing straight right now-the world would have to be hurtling toward imminent destruction before I'd agree to anything as dopey as The Thursday Next Workout Video.

The publicity surrounding the successful rebookment of Jane Eyre was fun to begin with but rapidly grew wearisome. I happily posed for photocalls, agreed to newspaper interviews, hesitantly appeared on Desert Island Smells and was thankfully excused the embarrassment of Celebrity Name That Fruit. The public, ever fascinated by celebrity, had wanted to know everything about me following my excursion within the pages of Jane Eyre, and since the Special Operations Network have a PR record on par with that of Vlad the Impaler, the Top Brass thought it would be a good wheeze to use me to boost their flagging popularity. I dutifully toured all points of the globe doing signings, library openings, talks and interviews. The same questions, the same SpecOps-approved answers. Supermarket openings, literary dinners, offers of book deals. I even met the actress Lola Vavoom, who said that she would simply adore to play me if there was a film. It was tiring, but more than that-it was dull. For the first time in my career at the Literary Detectives I actually missed authenticating Milton.

I'd taken a week's leave as soon my tour ended so Landen and I could devote some time to married life. I moved all my stuff to his house, rearranged his furniture, added my books to his and introduced my dodo, Pickwick, to his new home. Landen and I ceremoniously partitioned the bedroom closet space, decided to share the sock drawer, then had an argument over who was to sleep on the wall side of the bed. We had long and wonderfully pointless conversations about nothing in particular, walked Pickwick in the park, went out to dinner, stayed in for dinner, stared at each other a lot and slept in late every morning. It was wonderful.

On the fourth day of my leave, just between lunch with Landen's mum and Pickwick's notable first fight with the neighbor's cat, I got a call from Cordelia Flakk. She was the senior SpecOps PR agent here in Swindon and she told me that Adrian Lush wanted me on his show. I wasn't mad keen on the idea-or the show. But there was an upside. The Adrian Lush Show went out live, and Flakk assured me that this would be a "no holds barred" interview, something that held a great deal of appeal. Despite my many appearances, the true story about Jane Eyre was yet to be told-and I had been wanting to drop the Goliath Corporation in it for quite a while. Flakk's assurance that this would finally be the end of the press junket clinched my decision. Adrian Lush it would be.

I traveled up to the NetworkToad studios a few days later on my own; Landen had a deadline looming and needed to get his head down. But I wasn't alone for long. As soon as I stepped into the large entrance lobby a milk-curdling shade of green strode purposefully towards me.

"Thursday, darling!" cried Cordelia, beads rattling. "So glad you could make it!" The SpecOps dress code stated that our apparel should be "dignified," but in Cordelia's case they had obviously stretched a point. She looked about as far from a serving officer as one could get. Looks, in her case, were highly deceptive. She was SpecOps all the way from her high heels to the pink-and-yellow scarf tied in her hair.

She air-kissed me affectionately. "How's married life treating you?"

"Very well."

"Excellent, my dear, I wish you and ... er ..."

"Landen?"

"Yes; I wish you and Landen both the best. Love what you've done with your hair!"

"My hair? I haven't done anything with my hair!"

"Exactly!" replied Flakk quickly. "It's so incredibly you. What do you think of the outfit?"

"One's attention is drawn straight to it," I replied ambiguously.

"This is 1985," she explained. "Bright colors are the future. See this top? Half price in the sales. I'll let you loose in my wardrobe one day."

"I think I've got some pink socks of my own somewhere."

She smiled.

"It's a start, my dear. Listen, you've been a shining star about all this publicity work; I'm very grateful-and so is SpecOps."

"Grateful enough to post me somewhere other than the Literary Detectives?" I asked hopefully.

"Well," murmured Cordelia reflectively, "first things first. As soon as you've done the Lush interview your transfer application will be aggressively considered, you have my word on that."

I sighed. "Aggressively considered" had the ring of "definitely perhaps" about it and wasn't as promising as I could have wished. Despite the successes at work, I still wanted to move up within the Network. Cordelia, reading my disappointment, took my arm in a friendly gesture and steered me towards the waiting area.

"Coffee?"

"Thanks."

"Spot of bother in Auckland?"

"Brontë Federation offshoot caused a bit of trouble," I explained. "They didn't like the new ending of Jane Eyre."

"There'll always be a few malcontents," observed Flakk with a smile. "Milk?"

"Just a tad."

"Oh," she said, staring at the milk jug, "this milk's off. No matter. Listen," she said quietly,

"I'd love to stay and watch, but some SpecOps-17 clot in Penzance staked a Goth by mistake; it's going to be PR hell on earth down there."

SO-17 were the Vampire and Werewolf Disposal Operation. Despite a new three-point confirmation procedure, a jumpy cadet with a sharpened stake could still spell big trouble.

"Everything is all absolutely hunky-dory here. I've spoken to Adrian Lush and the others so there won't be any embarrassments."

"No holds barred, eh?" I grimaced, but Flakk was unapologetic.

"Needs must, Thursday. SpecOps requires your support in these difficult times. President Formby himself has called for an inquiry into whether SpecOps are value-for-money-or even necessary at all."

"Okay," I agreed, quite against my better judgment, "but this is the very last interview, yes?"

"Of course!" agreed Flakk hastily, then added in an overdramatic manner: "Oh my goodness is that the time? I have to catch the airship to Barnstaple in an hour. This is Adie; she'll be looking after you and ... and-" here Cordelia leaned just a little bit closer-"remember you're SpecOps, darling!"

She air-kissed me again, glanced at her watch and took to her heels in a cloud of expensive scent.

"How could I forget?" I muttered as a bouncy girl clutching a clipboard appeared from where she had been waiting respectfully out of earshot.

"Hi!" squeaked the girl. "I'm Adie. I'm so pleased to meet you!"

She grasped my hand and told me repeatedly what a fantastic honor it was.

"I don't want to bug you or anything," she asked shyly, "but was Edward Rochester really drop-dead-gorgeous-to-die-for?"

"Not handsome," I answered as I watched Flakk slink off down the corridor, "but certainly attractive. Tall, deep voice and glowering looks, if you know the type."

Adie turned a deep shade of pink.

"Gosh!"

I was taken into makeup, where I was puffed and primped, talked at mercilessly and made to sign copies of the FeMole I had appeared in. I was very relieved when Adie came to rescue me thirty minutes later. She announced into her wireless that we were "walking" and then, after leading me down a corridor and through some swing doors, asked:

"What's it like working in SpecOps? Do you chase bad guys, clamber around on the outside of airships, defuse bombs with three seconds to go, that sort of stuff?"

"I wish I did," I replied good-humoredly, "but in truth it's 70% form filling, 27% mind-numbing tedium and 2% sheer terror."

"And the remaining 1%?"

I smiled. "That's what keeps us going."

We walked the seemingly endless corridors, past large grinning photographs of Adrian Lush and assorted other NetworkToad celebrities.

"You'll like Adrian," she told me happily, "and he'll like you. Just don't try to be funnier than him; it doesn't suit the format of the show."

"What does that mean?"

She shrugged.

"I don't know. I'm meant to tell all his guests that."

"Even the comedians?"

"Especially the comedians."

I assured her being funny was furthest from my mind, and pretty soon she directed me onto the studio floor. Feeling unusually nervous and wishing that Landen was with me, I walked across the familiar front-room set of The Adrian Lush Show. But Mr. Lush was nowhere to be seen-and neither were the "Live Studio Audience" a Lush show usually boasted. Instead, a small group of officials were waiting-the "others" Flakk had told me about. My heart fell when I saw who they were.

"Ah, there you are, Next!" boomed Commander Braxton Hicks with forced bonhomie. "You're looking well, healthy, and, er, vigorous." He was my divisional chief back at Swindon, and despite being head of the Literary Detectives, was not that good with words.

"What are you doing here, sir?" I asked him, straining not to show my disappointment.

"Cordelia told me the Lush interview would be uncensored in every way."

"Oh it is, dear girl-up to a point," he said, stroking his large mustache. "Without benign intervention things can get very confused in the public mind. We thought we would listen to the interview and perhaps-if the need arose-offer practical advice as to how the proceedings should-er-proceed."

I sighed. My untold story looked set to remain exactly that. Adrian Lush, supposed champion of free speech, the man who had dared to air the grievances felt by the neanderthal, the first to suggest publicly that the Goliath Corporation "had shortcomings," was about to have his nails well and truly clipped.

"Colonel Flanker you've already met," went on Braxton without drawing breath.

I eyed the man suspiciously. I knew him well enough. He was at SpecOps-1, the division that polices SpecOps itself. He had interviewed me about the night I had first tried to tackle master criminal Acheron Hades-the night Snood and Tamworth died. He tried to smile several times but eventually gave up and offered his hand for me to shake instead.

"This is Colonel Rabone," carried on Braxton. "She is head of Combined Forces Liaison." I shook hands with the colonel.

Always honored to meet a holder of the Crimean Cross," she said, smiling.

"And over here," continued Braxton in a jocular tone that was obviously designed to put me at ease-a ploy that failed spectacularly-"is Mr. Schitt-Hawse of the Goliath Corporation." Schitt-Hawse was a tall, thin man whose pinched features seemed to compete for position in the center of his face. His head tilted to the left in a manner that reminded me of an inquisitive budgerigar, and his dark hair was fastidiously combed back from his forehead.

He put out his hand.

"Would it upset you if I didn't shake it?" I asked him.

"Well, yes," he replied, trying to be affable.

"Good."

The Goliath Corporation's pernicious hold over the nation was not universally appreciated, and I had a far greater reason to dislike them-the last Goliath employee I had dealt with was an odious character by the name of Jack Schitt. We had tricked him into a copy of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven," a place in which I hoped he could do no harm.

"Schitt-Hawse, eh?" I said. "Any relation to Jack?"

"He was-is-my half brother," said Schitt-Hawse slowly, "and believe me, Ms. Next, he wasn't working for us when he planned to prolong the Crimean War in order to create demand for Goliath weaponry."

"And you never knew he had sided with Hades either, I suppose?"

"Of course not!" replied Schitt-Hawse in an offended tone.

"If you had known, would you admit it?"

Schitt-Hawse scowled and said nothing. Braxton coughed politely and continued:

"And this is Mr. Chesterman of the Brontë Federation."

Chesterman blinked at me uncertainly. The changes I had wrought upon Jane Eyre had split the federation. I hoped he was one of the ones who preferred the happier ending.

"Back there is Captain Marat of the ChronoGuard," continued Braxton. Marat, at this moment in his time, was a schoolboy of about twelve. He looked at me with interest. The ChronoGuard were the SpecOps division that took care of Anomalous Time Ripplation-my father had been one or was one or would be one, depending on how you looked at it.

"Have we met before?" I asked him.

"Not yet," he replied cheerfully, returning to his copy of The Beano.

"Well!" said Braxton, clapping his hands together. "I think that's everyone. Next, I want you to pretend we're just not here."

"Observers, yes?"

"Absolutely. I-"

Braxton was interrupted by a slight disturbance offstage.

"The bastards!" yelled a high voice. "If the network dares to replace my Monday slot with reruns of Bonzo the Wonder Hound I'll sue them for every penny they have!"

A tall man of perhaps fifty-five had walked into the studio accompanied by a small group of assistants. He had handsome chiseled features and a luxuriant swirl of white hair that looked as though it had been carved from polystyrene. He wore an immaculately tailored suit and his fingers were heavily weighed down with gold jewelry. He stopped short when he saw us.

"Ah!" said Adrian Lush disdainfully. "SpecOps!"

His entourage flustered around him with lots of energy but very little purpose. They seemed to hang on his every word and action, and I suddenly felt a great sense of relief that I wasn't in the entertainments business.

"I've had a lot to do with you people in the past," explained Lush as he made himself comfortable on his trademark green sofa, something he clearly regarded as a territorial safe retreat. "It was I that coined the phrase 'SpecOops' whenever you make a mistake-sorry, 'Operational unexpectation'-isn't that what you like to call them?" But Hicks ignored Lush's inquiries and introduced me as though I were his only daughter being offered up for marriage.

"Mr. Lush, this is Special Operative Thursday Next."

Lush jumped up and bounded over to shake me by the hand in an effusive and energetic manner. Flanker and the others sat down; they looked very small in the middle of the empty studio. They weren't going to leave and Lush wasn't going to ask them to-I knew that Goliath owned NetworkToad and was beginning to doubt whether Lush had any control over this interview at all.

"Hello, Thursday!" said Lush excitedly. "Welcome to my Monday show. It's the second-highest-rated show in England-my Wednesday show is the first!" He laughed infectiously and I smiled uneasily.

"Then this will be your Thursday show," I replied, eager to lighten the situation. There was dead silence.

"Will you be doing that a lot?" asked Lush in a subdued tone.

"Doing what?"

"Making jokes. You see ... have a seat, darling. You see, I generally make the jokes on this show and although it's perfectly okay for you to make jokes, then I'm going to have to pay someone to write funnier ones, and our budget, like Goliath's scruples, is on the small side of Leptonic."

"Can I say something?" said a voice from the small audience. It was Flanker, who carried on talking without waiting for a reply. "SpecOps is a serious business and should be reflected so in your interview. Next, I think you should let Mr. Lush tell the jokes."

"Is that all right?" asked Lush, beaming.

"Sure," I replied. "Is there anything else I shouldn't do?" Lush looked at me and then looked at the panel in the front row.

"Is there?"

They all mumbled among themselves for a few seconds.

"I think," said Flanker again, "that we-sorry, you-should just do the interview and then we can discuss it later. Miss Next can say whatever she wants as long as it doesn't contravene any SpecOps or Goliath Corporate guidelines."

"-or military," added Colonel Rabone, anxious not to be left out.

"Is that okay?" asked Lush.

"Whatever," I returned, eager to get on with it.

"Excellent! I'll do your intro, although you'll be off camera for that. The floor manager will cue you and you'll enter. Wave to where the audience might have been and when you are comfy, I'll ask you some questions. I may offer you some toast at some point as our sponsors, the Toast Marketing Board, like to get a plug in now and again. Is there any part of that you don't understand?"

"No."

"Good. Here we go."

There was a flurry of activity as Lush had his hair adjusted, his makeup checked and his costume tweaked. After a cursory glance at me I was ushered offstage and after what seemed like an epoch of inaction, Lush was counted in by a floor manager. On cue he turned to camera one and switched on his best and brightest smile.

"Tonight is a very special occasion with a very special guest. She is a decorated war heroine, a literary detective whose personal intervention not only restored the novel of Jane Eyre but actually improved the ending. She single-handedly defeated Acheron Hades, ended the Crimean War and boldly hoodwinked the Goliath Corporation. Ladies and gentlemen, in an unprecedented interview from a serving SpecOps officer, please give a warm welcome to Thursday Next of the Swindon Literary Detective office!"

A bright light swung onto my entrance doorway, and Adie smiled and tapped my arm. I walked out to meet Lush, who rose to greet me enthusiastically.

"Excuse me," came a voice from the small group sitting in the front row of the empty auditorium. It was Schitt-Hawse, the Goliath representative.

"Yes?" asked Lush in an icy tone.

"You're going to have to drop the reference to the Goliath Corporation," said Schitt-Hawse in the sort of tone that brooks no argument. "It serves no purpose other than to needlessly embarrass a large company that is doing its very best to improve everyone's lives."

"I agree," said Flanker. "And all references to Hades will have to be avoided. He is still listed as 'Missing, fervently hoped dead,' so any unauthorized speculation might have dangerous consequences."

"Okay," murmured Lush, scribbling a note. "Anything else?"

"Any reference to the Crimean War and the Plasma Rifle," said the colonel, "might be considered inappropriate. The peace talks at Budapest are still at a delicate stage; the Russians will make any excuse to leave the table. We know that your show is very popular in Moscow."

"The Brontë Federation is not keen for you to say the new ending is improved," put in the small and bespectacled Chesterman, "and talking about any of the characters you met within Jane Eyre might cause some viewers to suffer Xplkqulkiccasia." The condition was unknown before my jump into Eyre. It was so serious that the Medical Council were compelled to make up an especially unpronounceable word to describe it. Lush looked at them, looked at me and then looked at his script.

"How about if I just said her name?"

"That would be admirable," intoned Flanker, "except you might also want to assure the viewers that this interview is uncensored. Everyone else agree?" They all enthusiastically added their assent to Flanker's suggestion. I could see this was going to be a very long and tedious afternoon.

Lush's entourage came back on and made the tiniest adjustments, I was repositioned, and after waiting what seemed like another decade, Lush began again.

"Ladies and gentlemen, in a frank and open interview tonight, Thursday Next talks unhindered about her work at SpecOps."

No one said anything, so I entered, shook Lush's hand and took a seat on his sofa.

"Welcome to the show, Thursday."

"Thank you."

"We'll get on to your career in the Crimea in a moment, but I'd like to kick off by asking-" With a magician's flourish he pulled a serviette off the table in front of us, revealing a platter of toast with assorted toppings.

"-if you would care for some toast?"

"No, thanks."

"Tasty and nutritious!" He smiled, facing the camera.

"Perfect as a snack or even a light meal-good with eggs, sardines or even-"

"No, thank you."

Lush's smile froze on his face as he muttered through clenched teeth:

"Have ... some ... toast."

But it was too late. The floor manager came on the set and announced that the unseen director of the show had called cut. Lush's face dropped its permanent smile and his small army of beauticians came on and fussed over him once more. The floor manager had a one-way conversation into his headphones before turning to me with a concerned expression on his face.

"The Director of Placements wants to know if you would take a small bite of toast when offered."

"I've eaten already."

The floor manager turned and spoke into his headphones again.

"She says she's eaten already!... I know.... Yes.... What if... Yes.... Ah-ha.... What do you want me to do? Sit on her and force it down her throat!?!... Yesss.... Ah-ha.... I know.... Yes.... Yes.... Okay."

He turned back to me.

"How about jam instead of marmalade?"

"I don't really like toast," I told him-which was partly true, although to be honest I think I was just feeling a bit troublesome because of Braxton and his entourage.

"What?"

"I said I don't-"

"She says she doesn't like toast!" said the floor manager in an exasperated tone. "What in hell's name are we going to do!?!"

Flanker stood up.

"Next, eat the sodding toast will you? I've got a meeting in two hours."

"And I've a golf tournament," added Braxton.

I sighed. I thought perhaps I had a small amount of control on the show, but even that had vanished.

"Does marmalade fit in with your plans, sir?" I asked Braxton, who grunted in the affirmative and sat down again.

"Okay. Make it granary with marmalade, go easy on the butter."

The floor manager smiled as though I had just saved his job-which I probably had-and everything started over once again.

"Would you like some toast?" asked Lush.

"Thanks."

I took a small bite. Everyone was watching me, so I decided to make it easy for them. "Very good indeed."

I saw the floor manager giving me an enthusiastic thumbs-up as he dabbed his brow with a handkerchief.

"Right," sighed Lush. "Let's get on with it. First I would like to ask the question that everyone wants to know: How did you actually get into the book of Jane Eyre in the first place?"

"That's easily explained," I began. "You see, my uncle Mycroft invented a device called a Prose Portal-"

Flanker coughed. I could sense what he was going to say and I cursed myself for being so foolish as to believe The Adrian Lush Show would be uncensored. I was SpecOps, after all.

"Ms. Next," began Flanker, "perhaps you don't know it but your uncle is still the subject of a secrecy certificate dating back to 1934. It might be prudent if you didn't mention him-or the Prose Portal."

The floor manager yelled, "We've cut!" again and Lush thought for a moment.

"Can we talk about how Hades stole the manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit?"

"Let me think," replied Flanker, then after a tiny pause, said: "No."

"It's not something we want the citizenry to think is-" said Marat so suddenly that quite a few people jumped. Up until that moment he hadn't said a word.

"Sorry?" asked Flanker.

"Nothing," said the ChronoGuard operative, who was now in his mid-sixties. "I'm just getting a touch proleptic in my old age."

"Can we talk about the successful return of Jane to her book?" I asked wearily.

"I refer you to my previous answer," growled Flanker.

"How about the time my partner Bowden and I drove through a patch of bad time on the motorway?"

"It's not something we want the citizenry to think is easy," said Marat-who was now in his early twenties-with renewed enthusiasm. "If the public think that ChronoGuard work is straightforward, confidence might well be shaken."

"Quite correct," asserted Flanker.

"Perhaps you'd like to do this interview?" I asked him.

"Hey!" said Flanker, standing up and jabbing a finger in my direction. "There's no need to get snippy with us, Next. You're here to do a job in your capacity as a serving SpecOps officer. You are not here to tell the truth as you see it!" Lush looked uneasily at me; I raised my eyebrows and shrugged.

"Now look here," said Lush in a strident tone, "if I'm going to interview Ms. Next I must ask questions that the public want to hear!"

"Oh, you can!" said Flanker agreeably. "You can ask whatever you want. Free speech is enshrined in statute, and neither SpecOps nor Goliath have any business to coerce you in any way. We are just here to observe, comment, and enlighten." Lush knew what Flanker meant and Flanker knew that Lush knew. I knew that Flanker and Lush knew it and they both knew I knew it too. Lush looked nervous and fidgeted slightly. Flanker's assertion of Lush's independence was anything but. A word To NetworkToad from Goliath and Lush would end up presenting SheepWorld on Lerwick TV, and he didn't want that. Not one little bit.

We fell silent for a moment as Lush and I tried to figure out a topic that was outside their broad parameters.

"How about commenting on the ludicrously high tax on cheese?" I asked. It was a joke, but Flanker and Co. weren't terribly expert when it came to jokes.

"I have no objection," murmured Flanker. "Anyone else?"

"Not me," said Schitt-Hawse.

"Or me," added Rabone.

"I have an objection," said a woman who had been sitting quietly at the side of the studio. She spoke with a clipped home counties accent and was dressed in a tweed skirt, twinset and pearls.

"Allow me to introduce myself," she said in a loud and strident voice. "Mrs. Jolly Hilly, Governmental Representative to the Television Networks." She took a deep breath and carried on: "The so-called 'unfair cheese duty burden' is a very contentious subject at present. Any reference to it might be construed as an inflammatory act." "587% duty on hard cheeses and 620% on smelly?" I asked. "Cheddar Classic Gold Original at £9.32 a pound-Bodmin Molecular Unstable Brie at almost £10! What's going on?" The others, suddenly interested, all looked to Mrs. Hilly for an explanation. For a brief moment and probably the only moment ever, we were in agreement.

"I understand your concern," replied the trained apologist, "but I think you'll find that the price of cheese has, once adjusted for positive spin, actually gone down measured against the retail price index in recent years. Here, have a look at this."

She passed me a picture of a sweet little old lady on crutches.

"Old ladies who are not dissimilar to the actress in this picture will have to go without their hip replacements and suffer crippling pain if you selfishly demand cut-price cheese." She paused to let this sink in.

"The Master of the Sums feels that it is not for the public to dictate economic policy, but he is willing to make concessions for those who suffer particular hardship in the form of area-tactical needs-related cheese coupons."

"So," said Lush with a smile, "wheyving cheese tax is out of the question?"

"Or he could raise the custard duty," added Mrs. Hilly, missing the pun. "The pudding lobby is less-well-how should I put it-militant."

"Wheyving," said Lush again, for the benefit of anyone who had missed it. "Wheyve-oh, never mind. I've never heard a bigger load of crap in all my life. I aim to make the ludicrous price of cheese the subject of an Adrian Lush Special Report." Mrs. Hilly flushed slightly and chose her words carefully.

"If there were another cheese riot following your Special Report we might look very carefully as to where to place responsibility."

She looked at the Goliath representative as she said this. The implication wasn't lost on Schitt-Hawse or Lush. I had heard enough.

"So I won't talk about cheese either," I sighed. "What can I talk about?" The small group all looked at one another with perplexed expressions. Flanker clicked his fingers as an idea struck him.

"Don't you own a dodo?"

—from Lost in a Good Book: A Thursday Next Novel by Jasper Fforde, Copyright © 2003 Jasper Fforde, published by Viking Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“[A]n analogue of Harry Potter just for, adults…effortlessly readable and unashamedly escapist…. [A]n immensely enjoy able, almost compulsive experience.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Fforde [has a] head-spinning narrative agility. His novel is satire, fantasy, literary criticism, thriller, whodunit, game, puzzle, joke, postmodern prank and tilt-a-whirl. Okay, maybe Lost in a Good Book is a creature with more than the usual number of feet. But it’s exceptionally light on all of them…[Fforde] is irrepressible good company” —The Washington Post

“Enchanting…a tale to savor. Harry Potter fans outgrowing Hogwarts should dive in.” —People

“Lost [ in a Good Book] is even more richly crammed with jokes, ideas and action. Brainier silliness is hard to find. A-.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Car chases, missing husbands, evil villains, a plucky heroine, and the Cheshire Cat. Jasper Fforde’s latest is mystery at its most fun—with a sci-fi twist.” —Marie Claire

“A joyful read, full of puns, allusions, and sheer fun. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal

“Time flies—and leaps and zigzags—while reading this wickedly funny and clever fantasy. Would-be wordsmiths and mystery fans will find the surreal genre-buster irresistible.” —Publishers Weekly

“Just what the doctor ordered now, in a world under the shadow of war, at the tail end of a long, cold winter…Lost in a Good Book resembles whipped cream—as sweet and light as the promise of spring.” —Salon.com

“Entertainingly surreal. Perhaps even more clever than its predecessor [The Eyre Affair], the new story offers a plot stuffed with enough coincidences and characters to make Dickens proud.” —Orlando Sentinel

“The book-jumping high jinks continue in Fforde’s equally whimsical Lost in a Good Book… its mix of surrealism, satire and adventure proves to be totally absorbing.” —Time Out New York

“Fforde’s wicked sense of humor and wide-ranging intelligence make every page a joy.” —The New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Fforde packs Lost in a Good Book to the rafters with sophisticated literary allusions, numerous interweaving subplots and wildly imaginative details. It’s obvious from the way he leaves things that Fforde has many more adventures in mind for his heroine; and with so many classics to choose from, Thursday will certainly have plenty of allies on her side.” —The Seattle Times

Meet the Author

Jasper Fforde traded a varied career in the film industry for staring vacantly out of the window and arranging words on a page. He lives and writes in Wales. The Eyre Affair was his first novel in the bestselling "Thursday Next" series. He is also the author of the "Nursery Crime" series.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Brecon, Powys, Wales, United Kingdom
Date of Birth:
January 11, 1961
Place of Birth:
London, United Kingdom
Education:
Left school at 18

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Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next Series #2) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 89 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. I first read the Eyre Affair for my Literature class and I fell in love with it; so I had to get the second book in the series. I'm starting the third book in the series now!!!!!! Jasper Fforde is a genius!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You don't need to read the first in the series though. The author will have you caught up well in the first few pages. I enjoyed the series so much that I had to run out and get all the books. It's great reading for a summer day or just to escape the everyday. A great mixture of Sci-fi and mystery. The mystery's take place inside of books. But the book's characters are able to jump from their book world into the three-dimensional earth world. The earth world outside of the books is England but with a very different evolution than the England we know today. Alot of fun and very enjoyable reading.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in the Thursday Next series, and is every bit as good as the first. In Lost in a Good Book, Thursday Next must save the world while trying to rescue her eradicated husband Landen. Fforde’s writing is humorous, making for a quick, light read. Several reviewers said this book is darker than the first, which I suppose it is, though it never would have occurred to me. It has very little violence and given the nature of Fforde’s universe everything is reversible, so what does it matter if the attacks on Thursday are a little more personal in this book? I plan on reading the rest of the series, but I think I’ll take a break and clean the puns out of my brain before I start another one. Fforde’s humor is great, but I just can’t read punny humor continuously.
mobiusgrl More than 1 year ago
The Thursday Next series is great for anyone who loves literature, adventure, detective, British humor, etc. A great read!
ReaderVA More than 1 year ago
Book lovers will appreciate Fforde's many literary references. Great great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable book with a good mix of fun and danger. An unusual cast of characters with great names that will make you laugh. It is a fun trip through the past, present and future with all sorts of quirky adventures along the way. I am listening to this book on book tape, and the narrator has truly caught the personality of Thursday Next. What a great concept - to travel through books.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Love this book! Jasper Fforde is an exceptional writer. Thursday Next is the heroine for an alternate timeline!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just couldn't get into this book. It might make a much better movie than a read. I think it would help to understand it better had I read the first one.
amyisabel More than 1 year ago
For all you book lovers out there youwill never read a book the same after you read this series. It's terrific!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bur still a lovely continuation of one of my favorite series!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting concept & a great read. Definitely going to continue on in the series.
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