Reviewed By: Sarah - RAM
What a delightful book! I haven’t read anything with such a pure sense of fun and whimsy since, well, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, perhaps. It was certainly a change of pace from the noir-und -drang books that inhabit most of my reading diet. So kick back, relax, suspend your disbelief and be carried along by the high -spirited adventures of Thursday Next and all the other lively folk that inhabit Jasper Fforde’s world.
It’s 1985, but not in the universe we’re accustomed to. Rather, Britain is some kind of dictatorial state, with the vast majority of life run by a shadowy corporation known as Goliath. Winston Churchill died in battle as a teen, time travel is old-hat, and dodo cloning is all the rage. Most importantly, literature has been elevated to a pedestal so high that any crime associated with all things bookish leads to severe punishment, as meted out by Special Operatives in Literary Detection, or LiteraTecs. Our heroine, Thursday Next, is a very accomplished LiteraTec who, after years at the London outpost, hightails it to her former stomping grounds of Swindon after tragedy and mayhem ensues. The original manuscript of Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit has been purloined, and the culprit is one Acheron Hades, whose grand plan is to alter the course of literary history forever by kidnapping characters for personal gain. Eventually, after l’affaire Chuzzlewit backfires in spectacular fashion, Hades reaches for an even bigger prizeplucking Jane Eyre from the confines of Charlotte Bronte’s original work.
It’s up to Thursday, along with her new cohorts in Swindon, to save the day. Naturally, there are plenty of complications. First and foremost, there’s Goliath’s unctuous, sneering Jack Schitt, who seeks to thwart Thursday’s mission while fulfilling an agenda of his own. Then there’s the Next family, a motley crew of Spec Ops, absent -minded professors and mother hens who only want the best for Thursday. The best being Landen Park-Laine, noted author and the love of Thursday’s life; their relationship had ended rather badly ten years prior. Can it be saved? Naturally the course of love can’t run smooth either...
What really came across is how Fforde took the conventions of mystery, adventure, and literature and turned them on its ear in a convincing fashion. Because he fashioned a new world, the book could have been easily bogged down in exposition, but it’s to Fforde’s credit that we’re plunged right in and the action isn’t compromised. Then, there’s Thursday herselfintrepid, resourceful, but certainly very flawed. She’s got a lot of grit and a lot of moxie, and I look forward to future appearances.
In short, an intelligent, light-hearted read that’s suitable for nearly everybody. The next installment, Lost in a Good Book, will be out soon, and that’s exactly what I plan to do. Kudos to Jasper Fforde for a fine and very different kind of debut novel.
Sarah - RAM
Reprinted with permission. Do Not repost without permission from the author, Sarah - RAM