The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next Series #3)

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Overview

The third 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

Jasper Fforde has done it again in this genre-bending blend of crime fiction, fantasy, and top-drawer literary entertainment. After two rollicking New York Times bestselling adventures through Western literature, resourceful BookWorld literary detective Thursday Next definitely needs some ...

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Overview

The third 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

Jasper Fforde has done it again in this genre-bending blend of crime fiction, fantasy, and top-drawer literary entertainment. After two rollicking New York Times bestselling adventures through Western literature, resourceful BookWorld literary detective Thursday Next definitely needs some downtime. And what better place for a respite than in the hidden depths of the Well of Lost Plots, where all unpublished books reside? But peace and quiet remain elusive for Thursday, who soon discovers that the Well is a veritable linguistic free-for-all, where grammasites run rampant, plot devices are hawked on the black market, and lousy books—like the one she has taken up residence in—are scrapped for salvage. To make matters worse, a murderer is stalking the personnel of Jurisfiction and it’s up to Thursday to save the day. A brilliant feat of literary showmanship filled with wit, fantasy, and effervescent originality, this Ffordian tour de force will appeal to fans of Douglas Adams and P. G. Wodehouse. Thursday’s zany investigations continue with Something Rotten. 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!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
With New York Times–bestselling author Jasper Fforde as your guide, you're in for a wild and wonderful ride through The Well of Lost Plots, the third book in his hilarious, time-twisting, cross-genre series featuring literary sleuth Thursday Next. In the Nextian world, the borders of time and place, fact and fiction, are thinner than anyone imagined. For the past 100 years or more, there's been a lot of cross-fertilization between realities. As a Jurisfiction agent, Thursday has recently learned that the source of that creative wealth lies in the Well of Lost Plots, where writers' imaginations interface with characters and plots and nothing is impossible. Now, as the powers-that-be in the BookWorld prepare to release UltraWord, the ultimate reading experience, Thursday plans her own much-needed escape. Through the Character Exchange Program, she seeks refuge in an unpublished manuscript in the depths of the Well…and learns that in books, as in life, real change must come from within. Sue Stone
The Washington Post
It's a little difficult to describe the Thursday Next novels without making them sound precious and twee. In fact, they are somewhat precious and twee, but also great fun -- especially for those with a literary turn of mind and a taste for offbeat comedy in the tradition of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, Norton Juster and Lewis Carroll. Indeed, one of the pleasures in reading the three installments of the adventures of Thursday Next lies in recognizing the myriad bookish allusions, some obvious, some very sly indeed. — Michael Dirda
Publishers Weekly
In this delicious sequel to The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book, Fforde's redoubtable (and now throwing-up-pregnant) heroine Thursday Next once again does battle with philistine bibliophobes, taking a furlough from her duties as a SpecOps Literary Detective to vacation in the Well of Lost Plots, the 26 noisome sub-basements of the Great Library. Pursued by her memory-modifying nemesis Aornis Hades, Thursday joins Jurisfiction's Character Exchange Program, filling in for "Mary," sidekick to the world-weary detective hero of Caversham Heights, a hilariously awful police procedural. At the imminent launch of UltraWord, the vaunted "Last Word" in Story Operating Systems, Thursday's friend and mentor Miss Havisham is gruesomely killed, and Thursday gamely sets out to restore order to her underground world, where technophiles ruthlessly recycle unpublished books and sell plot devices and stock characters on the black market. Meanwhile, Aornis is doing her fiendish worst to make Thursday forget Landen, her missing husband and father of her child. If this all sounds a bit confusing, it is-until the reader gets the hang of Fforde's intricate mix of parody, social satire and sheer gut-busting fantasy. Marvelous creations like syntax-slaughtering grammasites and the murderous Minotaur roam this unusual novel's pages, and Fforde's fictional epigraphs, like his minihistory of "book operating systems," are worth the cover price in themselves. Fforde's sidesplitting sendup of an increasingly antibookish society is a sheer joy. (Feb.) Forecast: Despite the rarefied nature of his spoofing, Fforde has attracted a substantial and loyal readership. Expect fans to turn out in droves on the 20-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
To quote KLIATT's July 2004 review of the audiobook edition: Another deliciously involving tale about literary detective Thursday Next, who lives in a parallel universe where the Crimean War is still being fought in the 1980s and where literature is the most important thing in the universe. Thursday, as part of the Character Exchange Program, has gone to live and hide in a "routine detective thriller," an "unpublishable" book that is recommended to be "broken up for salvage at soonest available opportunity." This is the Well of Lost Plots, not far from the offices of Jurisfiction. The appeal is not just the plot; it's the imaginative flair of the author for invention of detail...A rare treat. (Thursday Next series). KLIATT Codes: JSA*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Penguin, 373p., Ages 12 to adult.
—Mary Purucker
Library Journal
Thursday Next (The Eyre Affair; Lost in a Good Book) needs a vacation. After saving Jane Eyre, stopping two criminal masterminds, and being hounded by the Goliath Corporation, she just wants to lie low until she can rescue her missing husband. Taking refuge in an unpublished police procedural, she continues working for Jurisfiction, investigating a murder that involves the highest levels of literary police. While Thursday learns the ropes of BookWorld, including managing nursery-rhyme characters on strike and conducting anger-management sessions for the protagonists of Wuthering Heights, she tries to keep her memories of Landen alive and her pulp novel from being stripped and thrown into the Text Sea. Fforde has settled comfortably into series mode, producing another fun romp in an alternate universe where books are more real than reality; there's a pun on every other page and a galaxy of literary and pop references to keep the reader's head spinning. Escaped minotaurs, spelling viruses, problems with software upgrades, and Spam for footnotes all contribute to the fun. This U.S. version includes a bonus chapter detailing yet another of Thursday's adventures. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/03.]-Devon Thomas, Hass MS&L, Ann Arbor, MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Fforde's third novel featuring English sleuth Thursday Next is an interesting, enjoyable mix of detective story, fantasy, and literature. Thursday works on cases involving the protection of the stories and characters of famous books, which can be affected and changed by people in the real world. In this installment, she enters the Book World itself. Fforde has a nice touch, never pressing on any one aspect of the story, but managing to interweave all of the elements, with a good deal of humor. The use of various literary characters means that it helps to be familiar with the works in which they appear, but, despite knowing very little about Anna Karenina, it is still very funny to read its plot written as a gossipy telephone conversation between two Russian noblewomen. It also helps to have read the first two books in the series, The Eyre Affair (2002) and Lost in a Good Book (2003, both Viking), but teens will want to read The Well of Lost Plots anyway.-Ted Westervelt, Library of Congress, Washington, DC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Third course in a feast of hyperliterary alternate-reality thrillers (The Eyre Affair, 2002, etc.) may prove too rich for some stomachs. Fforde's story takes place in several parallel universes that manage, against all laws of logic and geometry, to intersect at many, many points. Our heroine, literary detective Thursday Next, is the nexus of this strangely wired cosmos. Thursday has just returned from the pages of Jane Eyre, in which she foiled archvillain Acheron Hades' attempt to steal the ending. Now pregnant (by a dead veteran of the Crimean War) and badly in need of rest, she requests an assignment in the Character Exchange Program and is sent to fill in for Mary Jones, detective in a dreadful unpublished thriller. Like all unpublished books, Caversham Heights exists in a kind of limbo in the Well of Lost Plots, a warren of sub-basements in the Great Library where all books are born, but few see the light of day. Thursday works her way through Mary's role in the hopeless plot, glad of a safe job for change, but she soon finds plenty of extratextual distractions that hint at trouble ahead. Within the ranks of Jurisfiction (a kind of FBI of the text world), a string of murders begins to claim the lives of various authorities connected with a new process of plot development. Thursday learns that her late husband is not dead at all but was in fact "eradicated" at the behest of rogue elements within Jurisfiction. Between teaching her "generic" houseboys Ibb and Obb how to cook, fending off hostile grammasites (literary parasites that infest a plot with gerunds), and facing Jurisfiction charges that she changed the ending of Jane Eyre, Thursday still has to find the time to solve thevarious crimes now springing up within and without the text. For instance, who stole the commas from Joyce's Ulysses? Like anchovies, Wagner, and Helmut Newton: will greatly appeal to people with unusual tastes-and befuddle everyone else. Agents: Eric Simonoff & Tif Loehnis/Janklow & Nesbit. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143034353
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/27/2004
  • Series: Thursday Next Series , #3
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 165,242
  • Product dimensions: 5.23 (w) x 7.85 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Jasper Fforde

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 series of Thursday Next novels, which includes Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, First Among Sequels, One of Our Thursdays is Missing, and The Woman Who Died A Lot. The series has more than one million copies (and counting) in print. He is also the author of The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear of the Nursery Crime series, Shades of Grey, and books for young readers, including The Last Dragonslayer. Visit jasperfforde.com.

Biography

Jasper Fforde is the author of four previous Thursday Next novels: The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, and Something Rotten. He is also the author of the Nursery Crimes Series, featuring Big Over Easy and Fourth Bear. All of Jasper Fforde's books are available from Penguin. He lives in Wales.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

Good To Know

Fforde's first novel, The Eyre Affair, received 76 rejection letters before it was published.

Fforde tells us in our interview that he got the idea for Pickwick, Thursday's pet dodo, from a visit to the Oxford Natural History Museum. "There was a stuffed dodo there and a withered foot and beak -- the only physical evidence aside from bones that they were ever alive at all," Fforde recalls. "I wandered for a bit and then asked the woman at the museum shop if I could buy a dodo home-cloning kit. She told me to come back in 20 years. That weekend, I wrote in Pickwick."

Fforde continued to reveal another fun fact: "The name of Thursday's husband, Landen Parke-Laine, comes from what happens if you are playing Monopoly and land on the first of the blue set -- a U.S. translation might be 'Landen Boarde-Walke.' Hence, his parents' names, mentioned in Lost in a Good Book, are 'Houson Parke-Laine' and 'Billden Parke-Laine.' "

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

Read an Excerpt

1.
The Absence of Breakfast

The Well of Lost Plots. To understand the Well you have to have an idea of the layout of the Great Library. The library is where all published fiction is stored so it can be read by the readers in the Outland; there are twenty-six floors, one for each letter of the alphabet. The library is constructed in the layout of a cross with the four corridors radiating from the center point. On all the walls, end after end, shelf after shelf, are books. Hundreds, thousands, millions of books. Hardbacks, paperbacks, leatherbound, everything. But the similarity of all these books to the copies we read back home is no more than the similarity a photograph has to its subject; these books are alive.

Beneath the Great Library are twenty-six floors of dingy yet industrious subbasements known as the Well of Lost Plots. This is where books are constructed, honed and polished in readiness for a place in the library aboveóif they make it that far. The failure rate is high. Unpublished books outnumber published by an estimated eight to one.
THURSDAY NEXT,
The Jurisfiction Chronicles

MAKING ONEíS HOME in an unpublished novel wasnít without its compensations. All the boring day-to-day mundanities that we conduct in the real world get in the way of narrative flow and are thus generally avoided. The car didnít need refueling, there were never any wrong numbers, there was always enough hot water, and vacuum cleaner bags came in only two sizesóupright and pull along. There were other more subtle differences, too. For instance, no one ever needed to repeat themselves in case you didnít hear, no one shared the same name, talked at the same time or had a word annoyingly ìon the tip of their tongue.î Best of all, the bad guy was always someone you knew of, andóChaucer asideóthere wasnít much farting. But there were some downsides. The relative absence of breakfast was the first and most notable difference to my daily timetable. Inside books, dinners are often written about and therefore feature frequently, as do lunches and afternoon tea; probably because they offer more opportunities to further the story.

Breakfast wasnít all that was missing. There was a peculiar lack of cinemas, wallpaper, toilets, colors, books, animals, underwear, smells, haircuts, and strangely enough, minor illnesses. If someone was ill in a book, it was either terminal and dramatically unpleasant or a mild head coldóthere wasnít much in between.

I was able to take up residence inside fiction by virtue of a scheme entitled the Character Exchange Program. Due to a spate of bored and disgruntled bookpeople escaping from their novels and becoming what we called PageRunners, the authorities set up the scheme to allow characters a change of scenery. In any year there are close to ten thousand exchanges, few of which result in any major plot or dialogue infringementsóthe reader rarely suspects anything at all. Since I was from the real world and not actually a character at all, the Bellman and Miss Havisham had agreed to let me live inside the BookWorld in exchange for helping out at Jurisfictionóat least as long as my pregnancy would allow.

The choice of book for my self-enforced exile had not been arbitrary; when Miss Havisham asked me in which novel I would care to reside, I had thought long and hard. Robinson Crusoe would have been ideal considering the climate, but there was no one female to exchange with. I could have gone to Pride and Prejudice, but I wasnít wild about high collars, bonnets, corsetsóand delicate manners. No, to avoid any complications and reduce the possibility of having to move, I had decided to make my home in a book of such dubious and uneven quality that publication and my subsequent enforced ejection was unlikely in the extreme. I found just such a book deep within the Well of Lost Plots amongst failed attempts at prose and half-finished epics of such dazzling ineptness that they would never see the light of day. The book was a dreary crime thriller set in Reading entitled Caversham Heights. I had planned to stay there for only a year, but it didnít work out that way. Plans with me are like De Floss novelsótry as you might, you never know quite how they are going to turn out.

I read my way into Caversham Heights. The air felt warm after the wintry conditions back home, and I found myself standing on a wooden jetty at the edge of a lake. In front of me there was a large and seemingly derelict flying boat of the sort that still plied the coastal routes back home. I had flown on one myself not six months before on the trail of someone claiming to have found some unpublished Burns poetry. But that was another lifetime ago, when I was SpecOps in Swindon, the world I had temporarily left behind.

The ancient flying boat rocked gently in the breeze, tautening the mooring ropes and creaking gently, the water gently slapping against the hull. As I watched the old aircraft, wondering just how long something this decrepit could stay afloat, a well-dressed young woman stepped out of an oval-shaped door in the high- sided hull. She was carrying a suitcase. I had read the novel of Caversham Heights so I knew Mary well although she didnít know me.

ìHullo!î she shouted, trotting up and offering me a hand. ìIím Mary. You must be Thursday. My goodness! Whatís that?î

ìA dodo. Her nameís Pickwick.î

Pickwick plocked and stared at Mary suspiciously.

ìReally?î she replied, looking at the bird curiously. ìIím no expert of course butóI thought dodoes were extinct.î

ìWhere I come from, theyíre a bit of a pest.î

ìOh?î mused Mary. ìIím not sure Iíve heard of a book with live dodoes in it.î

ìIím not a bookperson,î I told her, ìIím real.î

ìOh!î exclaimed Mary, opening her eyes wide. ìAn Outlander.î

She touched me inquisitively with a slender index finger as though I might be made of glass.

ìIíve never seen someone from the other side before,î she announced, clearly relieved to find that I wasnít going to shatter into a thousand pieces. ìTell me, is it true you have to cut your hair on a regular basis? I mean, your hair actually grows?î

ìYesîóI smiledóìand my fingernails, too.î

ìReally?î mused Mary. ìIíve heard rumors about that but I thought it was just one of those Outlandish legends. I suppose you have to eat, too? To stay alive, I mean, not just when the story calls for it?î

ìOne of the great pleasures of life,î I assured her.

I didnít think Iíd tell her about real-world downsides such as tooth decay, incontinence, or old age. Mary lived in a three-year window and neither aged, died, married, had children, got sick or changed in any way. Although appearing resolute and strong-minded, she was only like this because she was written that way. For all her qualities, Mary was simply a foil to Jack Spratt, the detective in Caversham Heights, the loyal sergeant figure to whom Jack explained things so the readers knew what was going on. She was what writers called an expositional, but Iíd never be as impolite to say so to her face.

ìIs this where Iím going to live?î I was pointing at the shabby flying boat.

ìI know what youíre thinking.î Mary smiled proudly. ìIsnít she just the most beautiful thing ever? Sheís a Sunderland; built in 1943 but last flew in í68. Iím midway converting her to a houseboat, but donít feel shy if you want to help out. Just keep the bilges pumped out, and if you can run the number three engine once a month, Iíd be very gratefulóthe start-up checklist is on the flight deck.î

ìWellóokay,î I muttered.

ìGood. Iíve left a prÈcis of the story taped to the fridge and a rough idea of what you have to say, but donít worry about being word perfect; since weíre not published, you can say almost anything you wantówithin reason, of course.î

ìOf course.î I thought for a moment. ìIím new to the Character Exchange Program. When will I be called to do something?î

ìWyatt is the inbook exchange liaison officer; heíll let you know. Jack might seem gruff to begin with,î continued Mary, ìbut he has a heart of gold. If he asks you to drive his Austin Allegro, make sure you depress the clutch fully before changing gear. He takes his coffee black and the love interest between myself and DC Baker is strictly unrequited, is that clear?î

ìVery clear,î I returned, thankful I would not have to do any love scenes.

ìGood. Did they supply you with all the necessary paperwork, IDs, that sort of thing?î

I patted my pocket and she handed me a scrap of paper and a bunch of keys.

ìGood. This is my footnoterphone number in case of emergencies, these are the keys to the flying boat and my BMW. If a loser named Arnold calls, tell him I hope he rots in hell. Any questions?î

ìI donít think so.î

She smiled as a yellow cab with TransGenre Taxis painted on the side materialized in front of us. The cabbie looked bored and Mary opened the passenger door.

ìThen weíre done. Youíll like it here. Iíll see you in about a year. So long!î

She turned to the cabbie, muttered, ìGet me out of this book,î and she and the car faded out, leaving me alone on the dusty track.

I sat upon a rickety wooden seat next to a tub of long-dead flowers and let Pickwick out of her bag. She ruffled her feathers indignantly and blinked in the sunlight. I looked across the lake at the sailing dinghies that were little more than brightly colored triangles that tacked backwards and forwards in the distance. Nearer to shore a pair of swans beat their wings furiously and pedaled the water in an attempt to take off, landing almost as soon as they were airborne, throwing up a long streak of spray on the calm waters. It seemed a lot of effort to go a few hundred yards.

I turned my attention to the flying boat. The layers of paint that covered and protected the riveted hull had partly peeled off to reveal the colorful livery of long-forgotten airlines beneath. The Perspex windows had clouded with age, and high in the massive wing untidy cables hung lazily from the oil-stained cowlings of the three empty engine bays, their safe inaccessibility now a haven for nesting birds. Goliath, Aornis, and SpecOps seemed a million miles awayóbut then, so did Landen. Landen. Memories of my husband were never far away. I thought of all the times we had spent together that hadnít actually happened. All the places we hadnít visited, all the things we hadnít done. He might have been eradicated at the age of two, but I still had our memoriesójust no one to share them with.

I was interrupted from my thoughts by the sound of a motorcycle approaching. The rider didnít have much control of the vehicle; I was glad that he stopped short of the jettyóhis erratic riding might well have led him straight into the lake.

ìHullo!î he said cheerfully, removing his helmet to reveal a youngish man with a dark Mediterranean complexion and deep sunken eyes. ìMy nameís Arnold. I havenít seen you around here before, have I?î I got up and shook his hand.

ìThe nameís Next. Thursday Next. Character Exchange Program.î

ìOh, blast!î he muttered. ìBlast and double blast! I suppose that means Iíve missed her?î

I nodded and he shook his head sadly.

ìDid she leave a message for me?î

ìY-es,î I said uncertainly. ìShe said she would, um, see you when she gets back.î

ìShe did?î replied Arnold, brightening up. ìThatís a good sign. Normally she calls me a loser and tells me to go rot in hell.î

ìShe probably wonít be back for a while,î I added, trying to make up for not passing on Maryís message properly, ìmaybe a yearómaybe more.î

ìI see,î he murmured, sighing deeply and staring off across the lake. He caught sight of Pickwick, who was attempting to outstare a strange aquatic bird with a rounded bill.

ìWhatís that?î he asked suddenly.

ìI think itís a duck, although I canít be sureówe donít have any where I come from.î

ìNo, the other thing.î

ìA dodo.î1

ìWhatís the matter?î asked Arnold.

I was getting a footnoterphone signal; in the BookWorld people generally communicated like this.

ìA footnoterphone call,î I replied, ìbut itís not a messageóitís like the wireless back home.î2

Arnold stared at me. ìYouíre not from around here, are you?î

ìIím from the other side of the page. What you call the Outland.î3

He opened his eyes wide. ìYou meanóyouíre real?î

ìIím afraid so,î I replied, slightly bemused.

ìGoodness! Is it true that Outlanders canít say ëred-Buick-blue-Buickí many times quickly?î

ìItís true. We call it a tongue twister.î

ìFascinating! Thereís nothing like that here, you know. I can say ëThe sixth sheikhís sixth sheepís sickí over and over as many times as I want!î

1. ì... This is WOLP-12 on the Well of Lost Plotsí own footnoterphone station, transmitting live on the hour every hour to keep you up-to-date with news in the Fiction Factory...î

2. ì... After the headlines you can hear our weekly documentary show WellSpeak, where today we will discuss hiding exposition; following that there will be a WellNews special on the launch of the new Book Operating System, UltraWordô, featuring a live studio debate with WordMaster Xavier Libris of Text Grand Central...î

3. ì... here are the main points of the news. Prices of semicolons, plot devices, prologues and inciting incidents continued to fall yesterday, lopping twenty-eight points off the TomJones Index. The Council of Genres has announced the nominations for the 923rd annual BookWorld Awards; Heathcliff is once again to head the Most Troubled Romantic Lead category, for the seventy-eighth year running...î

And he did, three times.

ìNow you try.î

I took a deep breath. ìThe sixth spleeps sics sleeks... sick.î

Arnold laughed like a drain. I donít think heíd come across anything quite so funny in his life. I smiled.

ìDo it again!î

ìNo thanks.4 How do I stop this footnoterphone blabbering inside my skull?î

ìJust think Off very strongly.î

I did, and the footnoterphone stopped.

ìBetter?î

I nodded.

ìYouíll get the hang of it.î

He thought for a minute, looked up and down the lake in an overtly innocent manner, then said, ìDo you want to buy some verbs? Not any of your rubbish, either. Good, strong, healthy regularsóstraight from the Text SeaóI have a friend on a scrawltrawler.î

I smiled. ìI donít think so, Arnoldóand I donít think you should ask meóIím Jurisfiction.î

ìOh,î said Arnold, looking pale all of a sudden. He bit his lip and gave such an imploring look that I almost laughed.

ìDonít sweat,î I told him, ìI wonít report it.î

He sighed a deep sigh of relief, muttered his thanks, remounted his motorbike and drove off in a jerky fashion, narrowly missing the mailboxes at the top of the track.

The interior of the flying boat was lighter and more airy than I had imagined, but it smelt a bit musty. Mary was mistaken; she had not been halfway through the craftís conversionóit was more like one-tenth. The walls were half-paneled with pine tongue-

4. ì... A new epic poem is to be constructed for the first time in eighty-seven years. Title and subject to be announced, but pundits reckon that itís a pointless exercise: skills have all but died out. Next week will also see the launch of a new shopping chain offering off-the-peg narrative requisites. It will be called PrÍt-ý-?crire...î

and-groove, and rock-wool insulation stuck out untidily along with unused electrical cables. There was room for two floors within the boatís cavernous hull, the downstairs a large, open-plan living room with a couple of old sofas pointing towards a television set. I tried to switch it on but it was deadóthere was no TV in the BookWorld unless called for in the narrative. Much of what I could see around me were merely props, necessary for the chapter in which Jack Spratt visits the Sunderland to discuss the case. On the mantelpiece above a small wood-burning stove were pictures of Mary from her days at the police training college, and another from when she was promoted to detective sergeant.

I opened a door that led into a small kitchenette. Attached to the fridge was the prÈcis of Caversham Heights. I flicked through it. The sequence of events was pretty much as I remembered from my first reading in the Well, although it seemed that Mary had overstated her role in some of the puzzle-solving areas. I put the prÈcis down, found a bowl and filled it with water for Pickwick, took her egg from my bag and laid it on the sofa, where she quickly set about turning it over and tapping it gently with her beak. I went forward and discovered a bedroom where the nose turret would have been and climbed a narrow aluminum ladder to the flight deck directly above. This was the best view in the house, the large greenhouselike Perspex windows affording a vista of the lake. The massive control wheels were set in front of two comfortable chairs, and facing them and ahead of a tangled mass of engine control levers was a complex panel of broken and faded instruments. To my right I could see the one remaining engine, looking forlorn, the propeller blades streaked with bird droppings.

Behind the pilotsí seats, where the flight engineer would have sat, there was a desk with reading lamp, footnoterphone and typewriter. On the bookshelf were mainly magazines of a police nature and lots of forensic textbooks. I walked through a narrow doorway and found a pleasant bedroom. The headroom was not overgenerous, but it was cozy and dry and was paneled in pine with a porthole above the double bed. Behind the bedroom was a storeroom, a hot-water boiler, stacks of wood and a spiral staircase. I was just about to go downstairs when I heard someone speak from the living room below.

ìWhat do you think that is?î

The voice had an empty ring to it and was neuter in its inflectionóI couldnít tell if it was male or female.

I stopped and instinctively pulled my automatic from my shoulder holster. Mary lived aloneóor so it had said in the book. As I moved slowly downstairs, I heard another voice answer the first: ìI think itís a bird of some sort.î

The second voice was no more distinctive than the first, and indeed, if the second voice had not been answering the first, I might have thought they belonged to the same person.

As I rounded the staircase, I saw two figures standing in the middle of the room staring at Pickwick, who stared back, courageously protecting her egg from behind a sofa.

ìHey!î I said, pointing my gun in their direction. ìHold it right there!î

The two figures looked up and stared at me without expression from features that were as insipid and muted as their voices. Because of their equal blandness it was impossible to tell them apart. Their arms hung limply by their sides, exhibiting no body language. They might have been angry or curious or worried or elatedóbut I couldnít tell.

ìWho are you?î I asked.

ìWe are nobody,î replied the one on the left.

ìEveryone is someone,î I replied.

ìNot altogether correct,î said the one on the right. ìWe have a code number but nothing more. I am TSI- 1404912-A and this is TSI-1404912-C.î

ìWhat happened to B?î

ìTaken by a grammasite last Tuesday.î

I lowered my gun. Miss Havisham had told me about Generics. They were created here in the Well to populate the books that were to be written. At the point of creation they were simply a human canvas without paintóblank like a coin, ready to be stamped with individualism. They had no history, no conflicts, no foiblesónothing that might make them either readable or interesting in any way. It was up to various institutions to teach them to be useful members of fiction. They were graded, too. A to D, one through ten. Any that were D-graded were like worker bees in crowds and busy streets. Small speaking parts were C-grades; B-grades usually made up the bulk of featured but not leading characters. These parts usuallyóbut not alwaysówent to the A-grades, handpicked for their skills at character projection and multidimensionality. Huckleberry Finn, Tess and Anna Karenina were all A-grades, but then so were Mr. Hyde, Hannibal Lecter and Professor Moriarty. I looked at the ungraded Generics again. Murderers or heroes? It was impossible to tell how they would turn out. Still, at this stage of their development they would be harmless. I reholstered my automatic.

ìYouíre Generics, right?î

ìIndeed,î they said in unison.

ìWhat are you doing here?î

ìYou remember the craze for minimalism?î asked the one on the right.

ìYes?î I replied, moving closer to stare at their blank faces curiously. There was a lot about the Well that I was going to have to get used to. They were harmless enoughóbut decidedly creepy. Pickwick was still hiding behind the sofa.

ìIt was caused by the 1982 character shortage,î said the one on the left. ìVikram Seth is planning a large book in the next few years and I donít think the Well wants to be caught out againóweíre being manufactured and then sent to stay in unpublished novels until we are called into service.î

ìSort of stockpiled, you mean?î

ìIíd prefer the word billeted,î replied the one on the left, the slight indignation indicating that it wouldnít be without a personality forever.

ìHow long have you been here?î

ìTwo months,î replied the one on the right. ìWe are awaiting placement at St. Tabularasaís Generic College for basic character training. I live in the spare bedroom in the tail.î

ìSo do I,î added the one on the left. ìLikewise.î

I paused for a moment. ìO-kay. Since we all have to live together, I had better give you names. You,î I said, pointing a finger at the one on the right, ìare henceforth called ibb. YouîóI pointed to the otheró ìare called obb.î

I pointed at them again in case they had missed it as neither made any sign of comprehending what Iíd saidóor even hearing it.

ìYou are ibb, and you are obb.î

I paused. Something didnít sound right about their names but I couldnít place it.

ìibb,î I said to myself, then: ìobb. ibb. ibb-obb. Does that sound strange to you?î

ìNo capitals,î said obb. ìWe donít get capitalized until we start schoolówe didnít expect a name so soon, either. Can we keep it?î

ìItís a gift from me,î I told them.

ìI am ibb,î said ibb, as if to make the point.

ìAnd I am obb,î said obb.

ìAnd Iím Thursday,î I told them, offering my hand. They shook it in turn slowly and without emotion. I could see that this pair werenít going to be a huge bundle of fun.

ìAnd thatís Pickwick.î

They looked at Pickwick, who plocked quietly, came out from behind the sofa, settled herself on her egg and pretended to go to sleep.

ìWell,î I announced, clapping my hands together, ìdoes anyone know how to cook? Iím not very good at it and if you donít want to eat beans on toast for the next year, you had better start to learn. Iím standing in for Mary, and if you donít get in my way, I wonít get in yours. I go to bed late and wake up early. I have a husband who doesnít exist and Iím going to have a baby later this year so I might get a little crankyóand overweight. Any questions?î

ìYes,î said the one on the left. ìWhich one of us is obb, did you say?î

I unpacked my few things in the small room behind the flight deck. I had sketched a picture of Landen from memory and I placed it on the bedside table, staring at it for a moment. I missed him dreadfully and wondered, for the umpteenth time, whether perhaps I shouldnít be here hiding, but out there, in my own world, trying to get him back. Trouble was, Iíd tried that and made a complete pigís ear of itóif it hadnít have been for Miss Havishamís timely rescue, I would still be locked up in a Goliath vault somewhere. With our child growing within me I had decided that flight was not a cowardís option but a sensible oneóI would stay here until the baby was born. I could then plan my return, and following that, Landenís.

I went downstairs and explained to obb the rudiments of cooking, which were as alien to it as having a name. Fortunately I found an old copy of Mrs. Beetonís Complete Housekeeper, which I told obb to study, half-jokingly, as research. Three hours later it had roasted a perfect leg of lamb with all the trimmings. I had discovered one thing about Generics already: dull and uninteresting they may beóbut they learn fast.

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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Jasper Fforde

Barnes & Noble.com: The Thursday Next series blends so many elements -- humor, mystery, alternate reality, time-travel, literary allusions, romance, and more. When you talk to people who haven't read the books, what elements do you think are the most descriptive of the series?

Jasper Fforde: It's difficult to say. Most people I find have very clear feelings on what they like to read, so my opening question would be: "What sort of books do you like?" and then pretty much whatever they answer I can, as often as not, pinpoint a plot device that covers their particular interest. romance, SF, thriller, crime, horror, classical, juvenilia -- but not western. To deal with this woeful omission I have book four open with Thursday and Commander Bradshaw hunting the Minotaur in a '30s pulp western. I called the chapter: "A Cretan Minotaur in Nebraska." My books are very cross genre. Something for everyone. A sort of Swiss Army Book, really.

B&N.com: In previous interviews you've said that finding the right publisher was tough, and freedom to take your story in virtually any direction is great fun. What do you think has been the biggest advantage, and the biggest disadvantage, for you as a writer of a cross genre work?

JF: Finding any publisher was tough! The biggest advantage, clearly, is that there are few restraints -- if any -- as to what my stories can contain. If I decide I want to have Thursday battle zombies or teach developing characters the meaning of subtext, then it is so. It's a very broad canvas. Disadvantages? For me, the series is very idea hungry. The conceptual pace I have set I feel I need to continue, which can be hard work and a little frustrating when the ideas aren't coming as quickly as I feel they should. Most of my books contain enough concepts (such as the Neanderthals) for half a dozen books or more.

B&N.com: What do you like best about writing stories with a continuing main character? And what's the downside? Have you considered using the Nextian universe in projects featuring any other main character?

JF: The upside is that I get to know the characters and they tend to write themselves. I like to string an individual's story over several novels, taking my time, as there is no great hurry to bring everything to a neat conclusion with every book. I can also reintroduce characters from earlier books which I always enjoy. Felix8 vanished in book one but he's still out there, awaiting a possible return. There isn't really too much of a downside. I can write other books and return to Thursday when I wish. The Nextian universe will always be there, and because the canvas is so broad, it would be relatively easy to write spin-off novels about Nextian characters -- Mycroft & Polly, for instance, or Spike.

B&N.com: You've included many characters from literature in the series as significant secondary characters. Who is your favorite so far? Is there any character (from the public domain, of course) you'd really like to include in future books? Any character you think it wouldn't be a good idea to include?

JF:The Cheshire Cat has to rank as my favorite, although I never really penetrate his bizarre nonsequitous exterior. He's a constant reminder of the huge debt we all owe to Lewis Carroll, the Patron Saint of Nonsense. The cat's alternative title of "The Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat" (because they moved the county boundaries) and subsequently "The Cat formerly known as Cheshire" ranks as one of my favorite little idea-ettes. I'll get around to including all my favorite fictional characters eventually -- Hamlet pops up in book four, where he learns a little bit about conflict resolution. Characters who I wouldn't use are probably the better ones, to whom inclusion in my books might be slightly undignified -- a bit like Nelson Mandela doing sherry adverts. It's not by chance that Jane Eyre in The Eyre Affair has so little to do and I only give her two lines -- she's kinda special and should be given the respect a fictioneer in her position demands. I wouldn't use Scout Finch for the same reason, or Yossarian, Billy Pilgrim, or Alice.

B&N.com: What did you like best about introducing the generics (characters in training)? What do you think they added to the book?

JF: Ibb and Obb. Yes, I liked these two. Since much of The Well of Lost Plots is about lifting the curtain on the story-writing process, a little bit about characters-in-waiting would seem fitting. The way that writers create characters is very similar to the way that Ibb and Obb progress through the book. From unnamed, genderless blanks all the way through to living, breathing people with their own failings and uncertainties. Even if a writer doesn't use a character in one book, they often keep them for another. Lola and Randolph (the people Ibb and Obb become) themselves appear in an (unpublished) novel of my own entitled Who Killed Humpty Dumpty -- a novel whose being is explained within subplots in WOLP. My books interlock quite a lot.…

B&N.com: What made you decide to set the bulk of this volume of the series in the Well of Lost Plots, as opposed to the primarily "real"-world setting (with excursions to fictional settings) of The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book?

I love concepts. Ideas are like seams of coal -- some of them are quite narrow and are mined out relatively quickly. The "Bookworld" idea was such a rich seam I thought I would devote an entire book to setting up the logic of this bizarre world. You might view it as a large digression, perhaps, but these books do trace Thursday's life, so I can always argue that the story goes where she goes. People often ask me why I do the things I do, but I'm not sure there is a positive answer. I do things because I think either they're fun and I enjoy them or they just seem right. Too much self-questioning can be unhealthy. I usually navigate a book through the narrative typhoon to Port Deadline with Captain Intuition at the helm.

B&N.com: Is there anything from your personal experiences that inspired your choices of settings or situations to explore in the Thursday Next series?

JF: I was always a big-time daydreamer and still am, only now I do it with ink -- and get paid. My life is strongly reflected in Thursday's but only in the flavor, never the fact, which is just as well, really. Certainly the sometimes strange occurrences that happen to her reflect my sense of humor and how I see the silliness of the world about me, or how I might like to see it. I guess that's where much of the satire in the stories come from. I tend to look at politics and history and people more like live cabaret -- a good form of entertainment but nothing that should be taken too seriously.

B&N.com: What were the greatest literary influences on you as a writer? Monty Python? Charles Dickens? Film noir? The Bröntes? Shakespeare?

JF: Probably the Alice books by Lewis Carroll, as they were the first books I remember choosing to read of my own volition. (Important, I think; the first 50 or so dowdy reading primers are chosen for us. It is a "learning to walk" moment when you have the power to read, and, critically, choose to do so.) I must have been seven years old at the time and was swept away by Alice's madcap escapades and respectful irreverence of established nursery characters and situations.

On subsequent readings I enjoyed it even more -- truly a multilayered book from which you can either just enjoy the story or, on a deeper level, understand the subtleties of the White Knight's "names of names" metalanguage. It is no accident that many of the characters in my books originally appear in Alice: the Ceshire Cat, the Red Queen, the King and Queen of Hearts. I think the mix of highbrow and nonsense greatly appeals to me; Lewis Carroll was an extremely intelligent man and could make humorous connections in his writings that are as fresh, full of genuine charm, and as delightful now as they were in the late 19th century.

But for all that Grade-A nonsense there is a strong and very logical construction of Alice's world. Everything that happens is entirely reasonable given the framework that Carroll creates. Alice herself is only mildly curious about growing larger or smaller, feels only timidity meeting Humpty Dumpty, and will quite happily assist Tweedledee and Tweedledum to do battle. This "compassionate observer" of all that is weird and wonderful and unexpected is something that I try to reflect upon Thursday. There is little that surprises or fazes her; she just shrugs and gets on with the job in hand, an unflappable guide to lead us about a fantastic place.

I think it would be fair to say that I am influenced by almost everything I see and read or hear. All writers are. I just tend to take life's rich tapestry and wring it out into a bucket, distil the contents, and spread it thickly on paper.

B&N.com: What would you say are the biggest differences between the alternate England Thursday lives in and the one where you live? What are the biggest differences readers will see between literature as she knows (and experiences) it, and what is (hopefully) familiar to us?

JF: Thursday's England is a satirical take on the England I know. Clearly, Thursday lives in a totalitarian regime, where almost everything is policed, from the books you buy to the clothes you wear and even the plants in your garden and the taste you display in your own homes. The thing is, no one in Thursday's world seems to notice or make any complaint about it. It's all very much like our world, just more so. Politicians and multinationals are infinitely less subtle about what they do and equally corrupt. But for all this, Thursday's world does have benefits -- for a start, almost everyone is extremely well educated and has a great love of the arts and literature. Not that it makes it any less violent, of course: Football hooliganism in our world is replaced by Elizabethan playwright hooliganism in Thursday's. Her world is arguably no better -- just different.

B&N.com: What do you like best about linking past and present, and factual and fictional elements in the series? Is it the chance to play with characters and situations from some of your favorite (or least favorite) books?

JF: The fun of playing with elements of fact and fiction is really so I can make Thursday's world recognizable. Despite the obvious fictional elements, the Nextian universe has disturbingly familiar elements: bureaucracy gone insane, self-serving corporations, duty on cheese, pointless secrecy, Neanderthals with no rights, political and corporate double-talk, wars fought for the purposes of weapons sales, you name it.

The inclusion of familiar plots and characters helps me to explain away some of the stranger occurrences in classical fiction. I've always wanted to know how Magwich swam from the prison hulk with a "great iron" on his leg at the beginning of Great Expectations, and what was the mysterious and unprecedented "Jane, Jane, Jane!" at Jane Eyre's window that brought Jane and Rochester back together? And how did Shadow the Sheepdog miraculously regain his sight? And what was the truth about Robinson Crusoe's mysterious reappearing trousers? How did Sherlock Holmes survive the fall at Rheinbeck? And why does Hamlet dither so much? It's all good clean honest fun and assumes that all the characters in these books are real, live people acting out the story for our benefit -- but not without their own problems, indiscretions, foibles and adventures of their own, acted out behind the main narrative thread.

B&N.com: Since you use both, how would you compare and contrast foreshadowing and time-travel as literary techniques?

JF: Time-travel. Hmm. Given the chance I probably wouldn't use it again, and what started as a throwaway secondary plot device suddenly became rather more important than I wanted it to. Time-travel, with its hard-wired propensity to paradox, automatically tends to change a once-neat narrative into something resembling a ball of wool a kitten has played with. I have tried to get away from the usual grammar of time-travel, but even so it can get pretty complex. Foreshadowing happens in subtle ways in my books. With a bit of luck the reader won't know they are there before the denouement. Since the books are told from Thursday's perspective, I can't really foreshadow that much.

B&N.com: How do you think your experience in the film industry has influenced your writing most?

JF: Quite strongly, I believe. I spent 19 years in the industry, so I tend to look at things in a very visual way. My love of a large cast and multiple subplots does tend to point toward a movie format, but I'm not wholly convinced they are really very different at all -- after all, movies are closer to novels than novels are to poetry, and radio is closer to theater than movies. But they are all branches of the same "Storytelling" tree, which encompasses everything from jokes through poetry, songs and opera to novels, movies, and theater. Entwining its roots beneath the ground and mutually supporting one another is the "Visual Arts" tree next door in whose branches can be found painting, sculpture, dance, gardens…. Moving from film to novels was not a huge leap, really.

B&N.com: How would you describe the role of the Goliath Corporation in the Thursday Next series? What do you think is the biggest difference between the menace of an evil corporation and an evil individual in fact and fiction?

JF: Goliath is the omnipresent corporation whose servants cause Thursday so much grief. The useful thing for me is that, rightly or wrongly, a faceless multinational has an inbuilt reader's perception of the small guy's helplessness against the machine. Somehow vanquishing bureaucracy has a greater difficulty to it than just shooting it out with a bad guy. The David-and-Goliath plot device is one of the eight main plots. It's "Jack and the Beanstalk" and The Mighty Ducks and The Verdict and The Trial and Lord knows what else. The fun thing about Goliath is that it is entirely shameless about what it does and, in that respect, is actually a great deal more honest than some corporations. Using reader's preconceived notions about subjects is a lazy writer's gift. With Goliath I really don't have to do a lot of work to make it real. In many ways this touches upon a recurrent theme in my work. I contend that reading is a far more complex process than we realize, an imagino-transference technology whereby a writer merely throws up mnemonic flags as a guide -- the reader creates the images and the emotion to go with it. Once a reader has lived for 20 years or so and has experienced the basics of human needs and emotions, most of my work is already done. When a reader credits an author with a fine work, they should reserve as much credit for themselves.

B&N.com: The galley mentioned you're working on another Thursday Next book. Can you tell us anything more about it?

JF: Thursday Next Book Four, Something Rotten, will be released simultaneously in the U.K. and USA on August 1, 2004. I don't want to give too much away, but Thursday returns to England two years later to find that much has changed...

B&N.com: Would you like to hear from readers? If so, how would you like them to contact you, through your publisher, your web site, or by some other method?

JF: I am already receiving more emails than I can answer. I replied to all of them up until about six months ago, when I found I could no longer keep up with it. I'm always on the lookout for Nextian-related oddities, though…

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 67 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 21, 2014

    Borderline Bad

    I put this aside after 50 pages as not worth the time to read. Silly plot and inane childlike dialogue. Was supposed to be erudite but mostly dull and plotless. Maybe if i get the flu or something and there is nothing in the house to read, i'll pick it up again.

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  • Posted November 2, 2012

    Great Fun for Bibliophiles

    I find the Thursday Next books delightful. Fforde has produced a true tour de force in these books, weaving erudite book references into a light-weight dystopian world in which it is possible to wander between our reality (Outland) and the reality of fiction (the Bookworld). Testing one's recognition of the fictional allusions is very entertaining. There are some glitches -- occasional lapses of grammar are very distracting and would not have been tolerated in Thursday's milieu. But a book in which the protagonist is mentored by Miss Havisham and the landscape is policed by battalions of Mrs. Danverses can't be all bad!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    Completely fuu Completely funny

    An unbeliveably good book!!!!!!!

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    Hang On For a Wonderful Ride

    This may be one of my favorites. Thursday does what many of us wish we could do. She moves into the fiction realm for a sabbatical while awaiting the birth of her child. What a world, what a great idea, what enormous possibilities for intrigue, adventure, distortion! Fforde has me tight in his grip. The puns come at you thick and fast. The literary allusions spin through the very air. It's quite a ride.

    The world-building here has been masterful, and explains many of the details of my own life. Now I know why a wonderful read will suddenly lose interest for a while - temporary story-engine shutdown.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2004

    An entertaining read

    Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series astonishes the reader with its sheer creativity and delights with its brilliant wordplay and wry, tongue-in-cheek literary allusions. This, the third installment of the series, takes place almost entirely within the confines of the Bookworld and delves much deeper into the secrets of the Great Library. Thursday's many capers, as usual, make for a funny and entertaining time, and new characters develop alongside returning Bookworld personalities. Unfortunately, we never visit the real world or interact with Bowden, Victor Analogy, and other 'real' characters...but I suppose you can't put everything in one book. I would encourage anyone who enjoys literature to read this book...and pre-order the fourth while you're at it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2004

    Jasper does it again!

    The third installment of the Thursday Next series is as good or better than the first two, which are brilliant. Jasper's ability to beg, borrow, and steal from all literature genres keeps the book moving smoothly and provides funny tidbits for aficionados of classic literature (and not-so-classic literature in some cases). The appearance of the gingham bedecked Granny Next to keep Thursday company is quite funny and Pickwick is good for a laugh, as always. I was lucky enough to meet Jasper at a book signing in Iowa City - he quite funny, humble, and promises more fun in the fourth book later this year!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2004

    Salivating for book four

    While I simply ate up all three Thursday Next novels, I must admit I was a bit disappointed with 'The Well of Lost Plots.' I'd hoped that Landen would be found and Thursday's pregnancy would become more than morning sickness and slightly tight trousers. Fforde's play on grammar, semantics, and all aspects of literature is as brilliant as ever; however, nothing truly important happened in this novel. It appears that one could read 'The Eyre Affair' and 'Lost in a Good Book,' and then simply wait for the fourth Next installment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2004

    LAUGH-OUT-LOUD LISTENING

    Those who have read Fforde's 'The Eyre Affair' (2002) and 'Lost In A Good Book' (2003) have already been won over by his playful pranks and prose. Now, listeners will be enthralled by Elizabeth Sastre's performance of his third venture into the real/fantasy book world. At times dramatic, at other times ditzy Ms. Sastre is our heroine, Thursday Next, come to amazing, stupefying, and, yes, silly life. All in good fun, friends, all in good fun. For those who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting her Thursday is a bit of a literary detective. As it happens, she is now a very pregnant literary detective looking forward to taking her ease for a while. Hopefully, she can find r&r in the character Exchange Program located deep down in the Great Library. However, there's no rest for the well read and Thursday is up to her britches in murder and mayhem. Her hideout in the B' novel has not proven to be a restful retreat. Shockingly she's awash in plots too contrived to be set down on page and surrounded by wooden characters who are being recycled by the dozen. It's up to our girl to solve not only mysteries but to return to her 'real' life. This is a laugh-out-loud lark for all who listen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2004

    Fun and Fabulous!

    I bought the British release and I adored this book. It was better than the second and helps elaborate the first two. It delves even further into the book world and and its politics. Great Read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2004

    Great satire

    Literary detective Thursday Next requests R&R not to recover from assignments like saving the ending of Jane Eyre, but suffers from morning sickness having become pregnant by a dead Crimean War veteran. Thursday applies for a vacation assignment in the Character Exchange Program, which is approved. She travels to THE WELL OF LOST PLOTS, the sub-basements beneath the Great Library. There she will replace Mary Jones, a detective¿s Friday in the unpublished police procedural Caversham Heights........................................... Thursday feels she has a quest when she learns how much plot and character selling goes on in the black market beneath the Great Library. While she tries to do the right thing and assist her Noir-like partner without landing in the Text Sea, UltraWord is launched as the 'Last Word' in Story Operating Systems. Here in the subterranean world of terrible plotting, pathetic characters, and stolen dreams, the idealistic Thursday realizes that the book world and its anti-matter opponents are as ruthless as the recycled protagonists sold on the black market............................. Although not for everybody, the third Thursday Next tale is a delightful satirical fantasy that tears into anything and everything. The story line is the usual bewildering confusion that is so much fun to follow. The side plots add irony as wrong turns might be sold on the literary black market. Jasper Fforde is at his lampooning best as nothing is sacred for readers who appreciate sharp slapstick syntax-slaughtering stories snd will want to get LOST IN A GOOD BOOK................................... Harriet Klausner

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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