Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
"Umberto Eco meets Harry Potter," is the way Randolph, one of our Discover readers, described this imaginative first novel. The two may be an unlikely pair, but in many ways they serve up an apt description of this highly original work, which examines what might happen if the barriers between fiction and reality disappeared and made it possible to share, or even alter, an important moment in classic literary history.
In Jasper Fforde's hilarious romp through time and space, heroine Thursday Next -- an agent with the secretive Special Operations Network, Literary Detective Division -- is sent to investigate the theft of Dickens's original manuscript for Martin Chuzzlewit by a diabolical archvillain. What really happened to the elusive character Mr. Quaverly in Dickens's book? Or for that matter, to the drunken tinker Christopher Sly from Shakespeare's play The Taming of the Shrew? Why do these characters appear once, only to play no further role in the stories? Is it possible that their disappearances were not the result of innocent editorial decisions by Dickens and Shakespeare but were instead due to devilish doings? Thursday's resolute pursuit of literary truth and justice takes her and an extended cast of ingenious characters on a convoluted historical caper, including a wild and crazy performance of Richard III that takes many of its theatrical cues from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Fforde's first fiction foray will delight a broad spectrum of intrepid readers, including aficionados of science fiction, history, British humor, and classic literature alike.
(Winter 2002 Selection)
A combination of fantasy, comedy, science fiction, Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, Lewis Carroll, Monty Python and even 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'.
Lovers of great literature with a fondness for light genre fiction...will feel instantly at home in The Eyre Affair...
The Eyre Affair is a delightful rabbit hole of a read: once you fall in you may never come back. All this reality-twisting action is set against a, well, rather reality-twisting backdrop.
...a highly inventive, frequently hilarious and occasionally poignant tale.
For sheer inventiveness [The Eyre Affair] is hard to beat.
The place is England and the year is 1985, but it's not any version of 1985 that you or I would recognize. Sure, some aspects of everyday life are familiar enoughpeople drive Datsuns and watch television, for example. But microchips haven't been invented, so there are no computers, and people make long trips by dirigible rather than jet plane. Time travel, on the other hand, is possible, although highly regulated. The Russian Revolution never happened, but for 131 years Britain and Czarist Russia have been fighting the Crimean War, a conflict in which long, relatively inactive periods are punctuated by episodes of horrendous carnage.
Oh, and art and literature are popularvery popular. In fact, they share about the same cultural import that movies, professional sports and pop musiccombineddo in our world. Hardcore fans change their names to John Milton or go around dressed like Shakespeare, and gangs of surrealists get into lethal rumbles with French impressionists.
This is the 1985 inhabited by Thursday Next, intrepid Special Operative in literary detection, veteran of a particularly bloody Crimean campaign (where she lost a brother) and the kind of tough, self-reliant heroine that fans of Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski series will recognize even if Welsh author Jasper Fforde's alternate history high jinks set their heads spinning. And since Fforde drops a sly hint that "The Eyre Affair" is intended to launch a new series, readers who take a liking to Thursday will no doubt find more where that came from.
Thursday's job is to track down stolen original manuscripts and spot forgeries, but in "The Eyre Affair" she getsrecruited by another department in SpecOps, which is trying to capture the world's Third Most Wanted criminal, Acheron Hades. It turns out Thursday is one of the few people able to resist the hypnotic effect of Hades' infernally persuasive voice. Hades steals a device that allows people to enter into literary works, and he begins kidnapping characters from great novels, starting with a minor figure from "Martin Chuzzlewit" and moving on to Jane Eyre.
There's a bit of back story about Thursday's dead brother, her burgeoning pacificism and a lost love she encounters when she transfers back to her hometown, Swindon, but "The Eyre Affair" is mostly a collection of jokes, conceits and puzzles. It's smart, frisky and sheer catnip for former English majors, a cross between Douglas Adams' "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and Jonathan Lethem's "Gun, With Occasional Music," with a big chunk of "The Norton Anthology of English Literature" tossed in. And some of the jokes are clever indeed. There's an ongoing production of "Richard III" done with boisterous audience participation à la "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"surprisingly plausible and, if you know your theatrical history, not that far off from the spirit of the original performances. Then there's Thursday's father, a former colonel in the ChronoGuard gone rogue, who travels back and forth in time, tweaking history in "a one-man war against the bureaucrats within the Office of Temporal Stability." He stops by to visit Thursday on a trip back to the 10th millennium where he plans to introduce a fruit genetically engineered in 2055. As soon as he vanishes again, Thursday instantly recognizes the formerly unfamiliar "yellow curved thing" as a banana. Her father decides to name it after the engineer who sequenced the plant, Anna Bannona nod to Ann Bannon, the legendary author of 1950s lesbian pulp novels.
It's not just the past that's in a state of constant revision in "The Eyre Affair"; when Hades kidnaps Jane Eyre from Charlotte Bront&emu's original manuscript, all editions of the novel suddenly peter out about a third of the way throughit can't go on without its first-person narrator. By the time Thursday manages to thwart Hades' evil scheme with the help of no less than Mr. Rochester himself, the novel will have a new and much more satisfying ending (the one, in fact, that it has in our world). I imagine that "The Eyre Affair" began as a riff on that seminal dream of every passionate reader, the desire to step into the universe of a favorite book, but given Fforde's prodigious powers of invention, where Thursday's further adventures will take her is anybody's guess.
The Eyre Affair is too special to be abandoned when the back cover closes.
...enough to entertain even the most dour lover of the classics.
The Eyre Affair promises to be the start of a funny, entertaining series that combines high-brow knowledge with low-brow humor...
The Eyre Affair is a wonderfully absurd fantasy about time travel and a 1985 alternate Earth that is seriously and emotionally involved with its literary classics.
Simultaneously erudite and quirky, highbrow and playful, It's a loving, offbeat homage to European literary history, but it's still accessible to readers who haven't read Jane Eyre or cracked a Shakespeare play since high school. The plot deftly addresses literary mysteries and questions, making the dessicated field of classic English literature come alive with puzzles and controversies, yet remaining lighthearted and entertaining throughout.
Jasper Fforde's first novel spins a gnarly, surreal yarn about an alternative British universe where a Special Ops literary agent by the name of Thursday Next finds herself embroiled in a search for a "Dr. Evil" badguy by the name of Acheron Hades. Fforde's fictional world is so devoid of anchors that it's almost impossible to even attempt a willing suspension of disbelief. You're either going along for the ride or jumping off right away.
Head spinning yet? It's a jumbled mess, to be sure. Time, history, and literature all get leveled and seriously destabilized in what amounts to a postmodern riot where literary trivia rubs against stock pot boiler plot devices and TV show suspense. But it's all good rollicking fun; there are no attempts to strike weighty points about sliding signifiers or relativity. Fforde keeps the touch decidedly light and plays consistently for laughs. A playful, jangling funhouse ride for the literary geek in all of us.
The best way to describe Jasper Fforde's debut novel The Eyre Affair is as a James Bond-style melodrama set in an alternative world which was designed by the lovers of English literature. It is a diverting read which should be taken at face value.
This novel might be called "James Bond Meets Harry Potter in the Twilight Zone." In fact, the reader plays "name that literary reference" through most of this zany work, where characters wander around in time from the Crimean War through the present and into the future, and in and out of novels including, of course, Jane Eyre. The narrator, Tuesday Next, is a tough, gun-totin' heart-of-gold heroine with a pet dodo, a true love she has refused to acknowledge and a brilliant, dotty scientist uncle named Mycroft. Her job is to rescue literary characters kidnapped out of books from being wiped off the face of every copy of a work by tracking down and outwitting the purely evil Asheron Hades and Goliath Corporation greedyman Jack Shit. Throughout, discussions of who really wrote Shakespeare's plays abound, along with send-ups of every literary genre from the highest to the lowest brow. Sastre's reading works particularly well because she's good at the straight narrative, while the nature of the book's language makes melodramatic voices for the other bizarre characters. Simultaneous release with the Viking hardcover (Forecasts, Dec. 17, 2001). (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
In an alternate 1985 London, Richard III is performed in a Rocky Horror Picture Show fashion in a very literature-centric time. Baconians go door-to-door to convince Shakespeare fans that Will did not in fact pen his plays, and thousands of men have changed their names to John Milton-so many that the police have forced them to tattoo numbers behind their ears to keep them straight. Thursday Next is a SpecOps agent-one of the LiteraTecs, a group whose job is to protect original literary manuscripts from being harmed. The LiteraTecs face a new challenge in Acheron Hades, a supercriminal thought to be long dead. Hades has taken possession of a prose portal device and has made his way into the original manuscript of Jane Eyre. He has kidnapped Jane, and all copies of the novel have abruptly gone blank. It is up to Thursday to rescue Jane, catch Hades, destroy the prose portal, and restore the story. Will she be able to do all of that without changing Brontë's ending? This fabulous mystery for literature readers might have a decidedly limited teen audience. Older teens who might have read many of the mentioned works will appreciate this book's amazing wit and tongue-in-cheek humor. Only the first of Thursday Next's adventures, this book will be followed by Lost in a Good Book, due this year. Readers can also visit the author's Web site at http://www.thursdaynext.com. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2002, Viking, 374p, Paone
"So unusual you've got to read it to believe it; and please do," trumpets London's Bookseller. Unusual, indeed; in Fforde's debut, set in 1985 in an alternate London, literature is (refreshingly) so important that you can get punished for forging Byronic verses. Then someone starts kidnapping literary characters Jane Eyre's disappearance is particularly traumatic and Special Operative Thursday Next must stop this before it's too late. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Adult/High School-A delightful first book in a proposed series set in an alternative and offbeat Britain of 1985 and featuring Literary Detective Thursday Next. England is still fighting the Crimean War with Imperialist Russia, and the prevailing culture is based on literature. When the original manuscript of Charles Dickens's Martin Chuzzlewit is stolen, it is a high crime indeed, and Next is called in to help catch the culprit. To make matters worse, her "mad as pants" but brilliant uncle has created a machine that could cause all kinds of literary mayhem. This title has a cast of complete nutters. Acheron Hades, the world's third most wanted villain, has just the right mix of evil and charm to make readers look forward to meeting the first and second most wanted. Be warned that minor passersby may come round again in this "mad tea party" of a story. The novel has the surrealism and satire of Douglas Adams, the nonsense and wordplay of Lewis Carroll, and the descriptive detail of Connie Willis. What sets Fforde's work apart, however, is its winsome heroine. This is a highly entertaining mystery with social satire, time travel, fantasy, science fiction, and romance thrown in to the well-written mix.-Jane Halsall, McHenry Public Library District, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
It's 1985 in England, at least on the calendar; the Crimean War is in its hundred-and-thirty-first year; time travel is nothing new; Japanese tourists slip in and out of Victorian novels; and the literary branch of the special police, led gamely by the beguiling Thursday Next, are pursuing Acheron Hades, who has stolen the manuscript of "Martin Chuzzlewit" and set his sights on kidnapping the character Jane Eyre, a theft that could have disastrous consequences for Brontë lovers who like their story straight. This rambunctious caper could be taken as a warning about what might happen if society considered literature really important -- like, say, energy futures or accounting.
If you have read any of the classics of English Literature, you will feel strangely at home in the action-packed alternative universe of Thursday next.... Hectic, humorous ... and most satisfying.
An unusually sure-footed first novel, this literary folly serves up a generally unique stew of fantasy, science fiction, procedural, and cozy literary mystery-but in the end is more dancing bear than ballet.
"[Thursday Next is] part Bridget Jones, part Nancy Drew, and part Dirty Harry." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Neatly delivers alternate history, Monty Pythonesque comedy skits, Grand Guignol supervillains, thwarted lovers, po-mo intertextuality, political commentary, time travel, vampires, absent-minded inventors, a hard-boiled narrator, and lots, lots more.... Suspend your disbelief, find a quiet corner and just surrender to the storytelling voice of the unstoppable, ever-resourceful Thursday Next." —The Washington Post
"Fforde's imaginative novel will satiate readers looking for a Harry Potter-esque tale.... The Eyre Affair's literary wonderland recalls Douglas Adams's Hitchhikers series, the works of Lewis Carroll and Woody Allen's The Kugelmass Episode." —USA Today
"Filled with clever wordplay, literary allusion and bibliowit, The Eyre Affair combines elements of Monty Python, Harry Potter, Stephen Hawking and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but its quirky charm is all its own." —The Wall Street Journal
"Jasper Fforde's first novel, The Eyre Affair, is a spirited sendup of genre fiction—it's part hardboiled mystery, part time-machine caper—that features a sassy, well-read 'Special Operative in literary detection' named Thursday Next, who will put you more in mind of Bridget Jones than Miss Marple. Fforde delivers almost every sentence with a sly wink, and he's got an easy way with wordplay, trivia, and inside jokes.... Fforde's verve is rarely less than infectious." —The New York Times Book Review
"[Fforde] delivers multiple plot twists, rampant literary references and streams of wild metafictional invention in a novel that places literature at the center of the pop-cultural universe.... It all adds up to a brainy, cheerfully twisted adventure." —Time Out New York
"[The Eyre Affair] is a blend of suspense and silliness, two parts fantasy (think Alice in Wonderland meets Superman), two parts absurdity (think Carl Hiaasen) and one part mystery (Agatha Christie meets Sue Grafton)." —St. Louis Post-Dispatch