Thursday, July 07, 2011

Review: The Eyre Affair

The Erye Affair is a refreshing read, clever in its premise and well done to be pulled off at all. Fforde immediately demands that you suspend your disbelief by informing the reader that the Crimean War (1853-1856) was actually still ongoing, as the Treaty of Paris was never signed. And so the reader immediate realizes that British history needs a quick review (thank you Wikipedia). We follow heroine Thursday Next in her pursuit of literary criminals, in her profession as literary detective (“LiteraTecs”), investigating crimes against literature: “It’s way less flash than it sounds... It was under Boswell that we arrested the gang who were stealing and selling Samuel Johnson first editions; on another occasion we uncovered an attempt to authenticate a flagrantly unrealistic version of Shakespeare’s Cardenio. Fun while it lasted, but only small islands of excitement among the ocean of day-to-day mundanities that is SO-27: we spent most of our time dealing with illegal traders, copyright infringements and fraud”

Fforde’s London is a literary society, with classic literature and its authors holding high value in all parts of society. Thursday Next deals with the criminal element, and she meets an arch-villain appropriately named Acheron Hades (his brother’s name is, you guessed it, Styx). Hades is a worthy foe, and the two meet numerous times as she seeks to foil his plots to subvert society by abducting first editions and altering key events in literature. And he does it all for fun. The Eyre affair refers to one such attempt to alter literature, and Fforde deftly navigates the complicated details of the world he created in order to pull it off.

The Eyre Affair is an amusing and satisfying read, and is perfect for summer. You can escape into literature while Thursday may or may not be literally doing the same thing. Five stars!

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