Set in an alternate reality during the 1980s, Thursday Next , is part of the government’s Literatec SpecOps team. You see in this version of England, literature is not just admired by a few, but fought over. Hordes of Baconists, those who believe Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s plays, act like Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on people’s doors to promote their cause. Criminals attempt to reproduce original copies of works or forge never before released poems by Byron and Shelly on a daily basis. Baroque-ists, Reformists, and Renaissance-ians fight against modernists. Thursday is part of the unit protecting literature and keeping counterfeits off the street.
A mass murderer, thief and most wanted criminal with unknown powers, Acheron Hades, decides not only to steal original manuscripts of revered English literature, but also use a newly invented Prose Portal to travel into the books, steal characters and change the narratives forever. Thursday is recruited by a higher level team to help catch him because she’s the only person who knows what he looks like. Way leads to way, and Thursday ends up chasing Acheron across England and Wales, through time, and into novels.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde is a crossover novel; it spans genes, as a lot of novels tend to do. This one is very intriguing to me, however. At my library, it is in the mystery section. The novel is a police procedural with a detective at its heart, but in my humble opinion, the Sci-Fi aspect trumps the mystery aspect. Without the science fiction aspects, this novel would not exist. Time travel, strange powers, and an alternate reality are essential to the life of this novel. You could take out Thursday being a detective, and the novel could still stand on its own two legs.
Being that I’m not much of a Sci-Fi kind of person, I did not stumble upon this title on my own. It was on the top of a Sci-Fi booklist (another one of the lists my coworkers and I competed over, I lost) and it was about Jane Eyre and literature. I was immediately intrigued. Let me tell you right off the bat that this is not for everyone. It’s not a beginner’s novel. One needs some prior knowledge and tastes to appreciate it. First, you should at least tolerate science fiction. Second, you need to appreciate police procedurals. Lastly, you need to have an understanding of English literature. At the very least know a bit about Shakespeare and Jane Eyre. See?! It’s a bit demanding.
Personally I was a bit confused by some of the time travel aspects. Other than that I followed along and found it enjoyable. Thursday is a fun character. She’s tough, but personable. The master criminal, Hades, is decidedly evil, but very fun to watch in action. There’s action, a love interest, and intrigue outside of the main plot. Everything a good novel needs. I found myself reading this at a leisurely pace. It wasn’t my favorite mostly because of the sci-fi aspects, but I’m also not huge into police procedurals.
This is a novel I would suggest, but the crowd I’d give this to is a rather defined group (see list above). This is the first in The “ThursdayNext” series.