The Eyre Affair

August 21, 2016

the eyre affair elitereWe all have certain books we love and stories we remember fondly. Have you ever wanted to meet the characters you came to love? How would you plan that encounter? How would you imagine a world where the line between fantasy and reality was sometimes blurred, where characters and real people could travel from one universe to another? Jasper Fforde creates such a delightfully strange world in his first published novel, The Eyre Affair.

The book was released in the UK in 2001 and it is the first one in the Thursday Next series. The action takes place in a parallel universe, in 1985 England, where Thursday Next, a literary detective, must face the villain Acheron Hades, following him in Jane Eyre’s world. There are 36 chapters in this novel (35, actually, the 13th chapter is missing), the story is generally told in first person, and the narrator is the heroine herself. Thursday is an intelligent woman who fought in the Crimean War, a conflict which went on for more than a century (131 years, to be precise).

You’ll find everything and anything you want in The Eyre Affair: GSD (Global Standard Deity, a sum of bits and pieces taken from all kinds of religions in an attempt to put an end to religious wars), time travel, dodo birds, parallel worlds, vampires, werewolves, and so on. Nothing is impossible in this universe, even a love story found its place here. With every page you turn, you realize that imagination knows no bounds, although jumping from one topic to another can become tiresome and annoying.

There are many characters that appear and disappear when you least expect it: Thursday Next (Wednesday’s daughter), uncle Mycroft, Landen Parke-Laine (Thursday’s husband… eventually), Paige Turner, Stoker (his nickname’s Spike), Jack Schitt, Acheron Hades etc. Lovely names, right!? But they all lack depth, even the main character and the villain. Thursday and Hades are symbols for the conflict between good and evil and, obviously, the “forces” of evil are defeated in the end.

Next is trying to save her aunt and uncle, but also her favourite novel, Jane Eyre. As for Hades, he is pure evil, appreciating well-executed crimes, torture and floral arrangements. He is stronger than anybody else, always willing to use his abilities to create chaos. Stealing two important manuscripts (Martin Chuzzlewit and Jane Eyre) is not an issue for him. The actions of these enemies are rather predictable, but this doesn’t change the fact that reading the story is a nice experience.

The novel is full of puns, humour, irony, but we’ll also stumble upon details which are apparently forgotten and questions that will find their answers in the following books (which I haven’t read yet). There is an open ending, preparing the path for brand new adventures.

We can label The Eyre Affair as a metatext, since there are literary allusions everywhere. But the author offers only general, recognizable pieces of information. We’ll see names like Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Shakespeare, Swift, Milton, Wordsworth and Poe. Those of you who haven’t read Jane Eyre shouldn’t be worried about understanding the plot. Thursday will speak of the book for her colleague, Bowden Cable, so you will get the general idea then. Unfortunately, the action becomes more complex and it actually reaches the climax starting with chapter 27. This is the point when Next steps into the world imagined by Charlote Brontë, where she must save Jane.

Fforde comes to us with an original story, both dynamic and seductive, which will make it difficult for you to part with it. I recommend you read the novel in a comfortable place, somewhere quiet, where you can truly enjoy Thursday’s story.

by Elena Atudosiei

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One Response to The Eyre Affair

  1. cazul jane eyre | eLitere on August 21, 2016 at 7:01 am

    […] The Eyre Affair August 21, 2016 […]

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