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“Want to read a good book?”

October 11th, 2003 · No Comments

So my neighbor asked me as he walked across the street to our home, novel in hand.

“Sure,” I said. I’m always eager to read a good book. And so my entrance into The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde began.

Now those of you who know me, know I would never choose this book on my own. I am far too Serious. Capital S. While I like fiction, I rarely read anything that has a hint of frivolity, fantasy or fun. Usually literary and tragic is what I choose. Recent reads have included homeschooling books and the philosophy of the Matrix. Years ago a friend, hearing that Ted and I were dating, exclaimed how “too serious” we were: “Your home will be like a funeral parlor.”

The Eyre Affair would not belong in a funeral parlor. There would be too much laughter. I laughed a lot while reading it. But I also thought a bit too. It’s detective-adventure with romance and lots of history and literature in the mix. Fast-paced and suspenseful (but a bit predictable too). The novel takes place in England in 1985, but it is a different England, one where cloned Dodos are pets, and the Crimean war has continued. Time is plastic, like playdough. Shakespeare is attended and performed the way Rocky Horror Picture Show is now, and also Shakespeare is spouted by mechanical boxes on streets. Heroine Thursday Next, a secret agent in “literary detection”, has an inventor for an uncle who makes some wondrous and valuable creations: the flying toaster Retinal Screen saver had me giggling. My serious side had to disappear while reading about Miss Next’s adventures. Sci-Fi and Fantasy fans may not be pleased at the lack of explanations and background, although science, such as cloning, fits into the story. Reading it requires suspending one’s skepticism and going along for the roller coaster ride.It is wacky and witty. It’s an English major’s escape. It is clever and creative. It is good clean literary fun.

The Thursday Next web site is a blast to read too, with Pete & Dave’s Dodo Emporium (Dodos for sale) and other intriguing tidbits, even a poster of Thursday herself and her colorful Porsche.

It is a good book, not the kind of good book I am used to reading, but a good one nonetheless. It even got me to take out my old Macbeth (even inspired a bit of blogging) and read it again. It got me thinking about history and poetry, literature and the liquidity of life. If you’ve ever wanted to live inside a book (hope I’m not giving too much away here….) and play with the plasticity of writing, or if you’ve ever wondered what happens inside a piece of poetry, or where characters go when they’re not on the page….this book is one you will enjoy too…

Apparently Jasper Fforde has two other books out in England. Only the second one is available in the U.S. Lost in a Good Book . I hope to get lost in it sometime soon….

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