Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde


Never did I suspect the first book from the Hodderscape Review Project would be such a blast from the past. The cover of Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair is rather whacky with a brightly painted car bursting through the scene, tearing it like paper. I knew I was up for a joy ride, but I should have fastened my seatbelt before taking off.

The Eyre Affair is the first out of nine books about literary agent Thursday Next. What makes her different from the literary agents I know is that she is allowed to carry a gun and investigates literature related crime. I wonder if Jasper Fforde realised how much of a prediction his book would be when it was published in 2001. Copyright violations and torrent site blocking is all over the news, which granted is not quite the same back-alley deals with Keats collected works which Thursday Next investigates.

Thursday Next is a level-headed protagonist whose greatest skill must surely be the ability to remain sane in spite of all the weird shit happening. She is a tough cookie who can look after herself without it turning into an over the top Trinity clone. A modern femme fatale who can save the world but still have time for her love life.

Not sure how the best describe how wonderful and weird the book is. If you have read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams or The Laundry books by Charles Stross you might have an idea. Basically, anything could happen, and the least plausible outcome has the greatest chance of happening especially if it's funny.

It's a mad world with a mad story with an evil genius who takes fictional characters as hostage and demands a ransom. It's a world where said evil genius has a younger brother whose evil is not quite as developed and settles for placing fake bids on cars for sale. It's a mad world worth spending hours reading about.

I shall leave you with the first two sentences of the book:
My father had a face that could stop a clock. I don't mean he was ugly or anything; it was a phrase the ChronoGuard used to describe someone who had the power to reduce time to an ultra-slow trickle. 
The Eyre Affair weighs in at 374 pages and is published by Hodder & Stoughton.