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eyre affairEnjoyability:       smile transpsmile transpsmile transpsmile transpsmile transp gray

Deep Thoughts: brain2brain2brain2half brain outlinebrain outline transp 2

Pages: 374   Copyright: 2001

The blurb: “Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.”

My own blurb is five words: hardboiled detective for literature geeks. Oh, and also she’s a woman.

                That pretty much sums it up; and yeah, it was about as cool as it sounds. For me, The Eyre Affair wasn’t the kind of book you whip through large sections of at a time, but more one that you read over a long period in short sessions. It wasn’t a page turner, but it was thick with dry humor and subtle intelligent references. (Definitely worth a read for fans of Douglas Adams– it actually had a lot of similarities to Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.) A mature thematic backbone of war, grief, and moral crossroads served as the support for an endlessly towering supply of silliness. Characters had goofy names like Victor Analogy, Continued Overleaf, and Jack Schitt. Occasionally Fforde’s love of comedy strained at the limits of the story and overstepped its place (like a gag, in one of the most intense scenes of the book, which led the sentences and words of the story to be peppered with random apostrophes and hyphens. People were negotiating with a madman! People were shooting at each other! I wanted to get into the scene, and tripping over punctuation stumbling blocks was nothing but frustrating.) More often, though, things stayed on the classier side of comedy, and it was my favorite kind of witty.

                I loved Thursday. She wasn’t perfect, but she almost always thought rationally and made the best decision available, and I liked that about her. I never had to be frustrated by watching the heroes create unnecessary conflict with their refusal to see reason, thank goodness. That’s a kind of artificial plot building that often turns me off to an entire book. I also liked that at first, Thursday seems to be all steely business, but as you follow her, you suddenly start to see lots of emotions, and as you learn to read her (no pun intended) better and better, you realize that those emotions were there from the beginning. It was a very organic process of getting to know a reserved person.

                As for the minor characters, a lot of them started to blend together. For example, Thursday had a lot of bosses at different levels in SpecOps, and I could never really keep them straight. The same goes for the various henchmen of the main villain. The men that Thursday was more fond of were more defined. Maybe we were just seeing Thursday’s perspective; as far as it concerns her, I guess the various bosses and henchmen are fairly interchangeable.

                The more you know about literature, the more enjoyable The Eyre Affair will probably be for you. There were many ongoing references to Dickens and Shakespeare, various poets, and of course, the Bröntes. There were also a number of history references/jokes that sort of went over my head. I liked the intellectual atmosphere, though.

                  The Eyre Affair was very British, very nerdy, and full of heart. It’s worth noting that this was Jasper Fforde’s first published novel; he may not have ironed out all his editing skills yet (not that a writer ever really irons out all their editing skills). But I don’t think there’s any other book out there quite like this one, and I think that alone makes it worth the read.


Here it is, folks. Another TBR post.

The last time I formalized a list of to-be-reads was back in March, but I’m happy to say that I’ve successfully read– and enjoyed!– all but one of those. So, along with that straggler, Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, here are four new additions to the queue this fall.

1.) Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Westerfeld’s Uglies series was one of the absolute staples of my tween readerhood, and a major gateway to the dystopia scene. I know he’s been writing since then, but somehow he hasn’t been in my life for a long while. Afterworlds is getting a whole lot of hype, though, and it sounds like it might be just the thing to reunite us. It’s a rather sprawling novel that tells a duel story: a young woman debuting as a published novelist, and the girl who stars in her book. Their stories interweave and complement each other and it’s supposed to be really graceful and immersive and I want it.

2.) Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger. Steampunk. Steampunk. STEAMPUNK. STEAMPUNK. STEAMPUNK. STEAMPUNK.

Okay, confession, I haven’t actually read any steampunk. But I have spent a LOT of time looking at steampunk-style fashion. And I basically love it so much that my body could explode into a cloud of rainbow butterflies, and each individual butterfly would be weeping tears of pure light, and each tear would have a single glitter gleaming in the radiant sun of my love for steampunk. So why I have not officially read steampunk fiction, I just don’t know.

Etiquette & Espionage is set at a boarding school, and it’s becoming almost cliché for book bloggers to love boarding school books, but what’s not to love? I’m a tiny bit nervous because this is a “girl’s parents want her to sew and wear dresses but girl isn’t like other girls and rebels” story, and that’s a formula I’m getting a little bored with, to be honest. But there’s enough in this one’s favor that I want to give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, tumblr has supplied me with this list of other steampunk possibilities! (Granted, those were chosen based on cover aesthetics, but I’m sure at least some of them are good.)

3.) Something by David Sedaris. I don’t know what, I just know I’ve been interested in creative nonfiction lately, and I’ve heard that David Sedaris has a dry, witty sense of humor, which is right up my alley. I started flipping through Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls at a bookstore the other day (actually it was the Strand in NYC, which is literally paradise, but that’s another story), but there seemed to be a lot of scary medical stories in there, which I can’t stomach to save my life. So possibly not the best choice for me, although I love owls.

4.) Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman. This is the one I’m least positive I’m going to read, but I’ve joined the massive following of the Netflix series, and it would be cool to hear the true story in Kerman’s own words. Plus, like I said, I want to read more creative nonfiction. We’ll see.

I’m currently reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, and hopefully I’ll have it finished and ready to discuss next week. It’s a pretty unique book, so stay tuned. What to-reads are banging around your vague consciousness? Take it to the comments.