Thursday Next

Once upon a time… a friend of mine thrust a book by some guy with an odd name into my hands saying “Read this. You’ll love it!” The author was Jasper Fforde, and book was The Eyre Affair. As it happens, I didn’t love the book. But I did like it enough to read the next book in the series, and then the next, and then the next. I thought it was about time I told you about these books.

The Eyre Affair is the first book in a series about literary detective Thursday Next. It is set in 1985 in an alternative universe where history has progressed rather differently than in our world. England is a republic, Wales is a socialist republic, Russian remains under the rule of a Czar and the Crimean War is still going strong. Genetic engineering is quite advanced in this world, and so our lead character can have a pet Dodo named Pickwick. But there is a lot more to this novel than just the alternative history setting…

Due to the invention of a Prose Portal, it is now possible for people to enter a work of literary fiction. In The Eyre Affair Thursday is trying to stop a master criminal from entering the original manuscript of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and changing the story. A weird concept… but somehow Fforde makes it work.

Fforde has created a truly bizarre and fascinating world in this novel, but seems to have gotten carried away with his own inventiveness. He gives so much attention to the world, that the plot occasionally suffers and the characters rarely rise above being two-dimensional. And this is why I liked the book rather than loved it. But as I said at the start, I did like it enough to seek out the next one…

Lost in a Good Book gets even more bizarre and fascinating as Fforde expands on the world he has created, and takes Thursday into new uncharted waters. Thursday’s new husband is eradicated from history, the original manuscript of Shakespear’s lost play Cardenio is discovered, we meet Thursday’s father (a renegade ChronoGuard who travels through time) and we find out about Jurisfiction — a police force within literature that employs fictional characters to ensure that things remain orderly and that plots remains as their authors intended. I enjoyed this book more than the first. Characterisation and plotting are a lot better. So I had to go on…

In The Well of Lost Plots Thursday is now a Jurisfiction apprentice studying under Miss Havesham from Dickens’s Great Expectations. Pregnant with the child of her non-existent husband, she takes a holiday in an unpublished detective novel. Could things get any more bizarre than in this novel. Yes they can…

Something Rotten is the most bizarre and, frankly, the plot defies description. But by this book, I had grown to love the characters and become totally immersed in Fforde’s universe. Things are definitely wrapped up at the end of this novel, and we have a fitting end to the adventures of Thursday Next. Or so I thought…

I’ve now discovered that there are a further two books I was not aware of. They form a second series of adventure for Thursday — First Among Sequels and One of our Thursdays is Missing. I shall have to seek them out.

Has anyone else read the Thursday Next novels? What did you think of them? Leave a comment!

Catch ya later,  George

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George Ivanoff

LITERARY CLUTTER: Bookish bloggings from the cluttered mind and bookshelf of Melbourne author, George Ivanoff. George is the author of the YOU CHOOSE books, the OTHER WORLDS series, the RFDS Adventures and the GAMERS trilogy.

6 thoughts on “Thursday Next”

  1. I’ve just been introduced to the Eyre Affair, which I did thoroughly enjoy and which made me giggle a lot (“you have a face longer than a Dickens novel”) He is a clever bugger no doubt about that, love the puns (eg there’s a character called Paige Turner somewhere) – even in your review you mention ‘jurisfiction’ – just seems like he’s got everything perfectly figured out! But my question for you is: buy or borrow? Although it was great fun, I don’t know if I care enough to read Eyre Affair again…but I do want to know what happens next…What do you think?

  2. Lots of clever snippets in these books, great one liners and just full of imagination, twists and turns which make them quite unlike any other book I have read.

    Like you, I haven’t quite made my way through the entire series – but thanks for the reminder, think I may just have to locate the next one!

  3. Oooh there’s six of them? I must find out how many we have to see if we are missing any.

    Or in other words, yes I have read (some of) them and enjoyed them. My biggest problem was probably that I haven’t read all the relevant books that are mentioned or used as back grounds. Although I think my general knowledge got me by, I probably missed some stuff having not read them (e.g. Pride & Prejudice)

  4. Sophia… I borrowed them, rather than buying them. But I ended up liking each successive novel better than its predecessor. Not sure I would re-read then. As for names.. Jack Schitt is my fav.

    Emma… yes, they are rather unique.

    Fraser… I confess that I probably missed a lot of the references. Thankfully I had read some of the novels he refers to, allowing me to really enjoy those references. I particularly love Miss Havisham from Great Expectation.

  5. I thoroughly enjoy all the novels. They have not been uniformly good, and I suspect he took the opportunity to publish some that had previously been rejected. But so what?
    A newer series starts with Shades of Grey. This is (a bit) more straightforward, and is about a world of the future where people are only allowed to see a narrow bit of the spectrum. So not entirely straightforward…

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