Reviews & Overviews by Rod Cameron
        
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
The Eyre Affair is Jasper Fforde's first novel. On the basis of this book, Terry Pratchett, the late Douglas Adams & Tom Holt at their very best, have a serious rival for the crown of SF & F Humour. The story is set in an alternate universe where Wales is a soviet republic, Dodos are available in home-cloning kits, the Crimean War is 131 years old, and the ending of Jane Eyre is less than satisfactory (she goes off to India with the missionary St John Rivers).
The heroine of the Eyre Affair is Thursday Next, who works for Special Operations Dept 27 (SO-27) the Literacy Detectives whose task is to chase criminals who steal or forge first editions of famous works. "The Special Operations Network was instigated to handle policing duties considered either too unusual or too specialised to be tackled by the regular force. There were 30 departments in all, starting at the more mundane Neighbourly Disputes (SO-30), and going on to Literacy Detectives (SO-27) and Art Crime (SO-24) ... The Chronoguard were SO-12 and Counterterrorism SO-9."
Thursday Next has an eccentric family, to say the least. Her disgraced father who works for the Chronoguard has been edited out of existence. Her uncle is an inventor, of note are his inventions of the 2B pencil with a built in spell checker, and the Retinal Screen Saver - very useful for boring jobs. However, his greatest claim to fame is the Prose Portal which enables people to step into poetry, for example the Wordsworth poems and talk to the great man. This invention is driven by Hyperbookworms. He has bred these with a few 100 strands of DNA encoding all the finest dictionaries, lexicons and thesauri. Thursday's job is to bring to justice men like the fiendish Acheron Styx who enters Dickens manuscripts, and abducts minor characters for ransom, and ultimately for execution and extinction - because in this world, if you alter the original manuscript you alter every copy of the book.
You don't have to know Jane Eyre intimately (the book that is) to enjoy The Eyre Affair, but it does help to show how clever this book is. Needless to say, the climax (of both books) occurs on the roof of Mr Rochester's Thornfield Hall amid the flames. An excellent ingenious first novel, buy it immediately.
Publisher: NEL
Date: 2001
Pages: 262 Pages
Price: 6.99
Format: Paperback
Reviewed by: Rod Cameron
Date Reviewed: August 2001

 

Copyright : Roderick Alasdair Cameron 2001 - 2012                   rod@rodcameron.co.uk

Copyright : Roderick Alasdair Cameron 2001 - 2015                   rod@rodcameron.co.uk

Copyright : Roderick Alasdair Cameron 2001 - 2015                   rod@rodcameron.co.uk