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CR3 #14: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

It has been three days since I finished this book, and I am still not entirely sure whether I liked it or not. The story is of Thursday Next, a "Literary Special Ops" agent who lives in an alternate universe version of 1985 England (a place where the Crimean war continues, reincarnated dodos walk the earth, and Jane Eyre ends with Jane marrying St. John.) After a mission goes disastrously wrong, Thursday heads back to her hometown to recuperate. However, it turns out that her past is not really past (how can it be, when her father is a time-traveller who occasionally stops time for a short chat?) and that dangerous arch-villain Acheron Hades is still a hazard. When her Uncle Mycroft's new invention comes into the mix, it's a race to see who will end up with a potentially world-changing technology.

Does that explanation make any sense? I didn't think so. I was trying to write without spoilers, but the plot is so twisty and convoluted that I just wind up tying myself in knots trying to explain. Perhaps I should make a list of pros and cons for this book and leave you all to make your own devices.

Pros:
1. Thursday is a smart, interesting, and tough heroine. I enjoyed her voice through the book.
2. The idea that in the alternate universe Richard III gets the live Rocky Horror treatment.
3. The plot becomes interesting and I kept wondering what the villain's next move would be.
4. Some of the side characters were very quirky and interesting.

Cons:
1. The plot was at some points so convoluted and buried in tangents and exposition that it was almost impossible to keep up. During the first two-thirds of the book I found myself several times considering not finishing it.
2. Sometimes the alternate universe was too much. It was difficult figuring what had changed and why. Plus, sometimes it seemed the author was going off on long descriptions of the changes (Baconists -- people who believe Shakespeare did not write the Shakespearean works and go door to door advocating that it was Sir Francis Bacon--for example) just for his own amusement.
3. The romantic subplot was rather stupid and badly done.

By the time I got to the end of the book, I think that I liked it, but as I said, the first bits were so exhausting that I'm not it averages out. There are several other books in the Thursday Next series, but I am not entirely sure I'm interested in reading them.

Comments

Jen K said…
I liked this first one, but the weaknesses you describe just get more pronounced with each one - he starts spending too much time on the quirkiness of it all, and the plot becomes almost secondary. Glad to see I'm not the only one since everyone else raves about this series, not just the first novel.

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