The Eyre Affair ~ Jasper Fforde

  • Title:  The Eyre Affair
  • Author:  Jasper Fforde
  • Series:  Thursday Next, #1
  • Genre:  Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction
  • Format:  Audio Book
  • Source:  Overdrive Library
  • Reviewed by:  Sonja
  • Rating:  3 out of 5

Description:  Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.

Review:  Well, wasn’t this one a nice kettle of fish. I must have listened to beginning of ‘The Eyre Affair’ a thousand times before I finally moved forward. Seriously. I counted. The beginning, as is so often the case especially in the case of books first in a series, is a bit of an info dump. What kept me going you ask? The reader: Susan Duerdan. Ms. Duerdan does such an amazing job, her voice is just mesmerizing. Simply mesmerizing. She gets everything exactly right, the tone, the expressions, the laughter, the concern, the humor – simply everything. She made me wish to listen to this book.

But, other than the narration, I was not taken with this book. Maybe it is all the time travel. . .  are you now, are you later, or are you way in the past? Maybe it was just the information overload. Maybe it is just all that doggone literature – literature which, I might add, I actually love. Maybe, it is just that there are too many ideas, amazing though they may be, competing for attention here. It may have been the lack of any real mystery – we know who the bad guy is almost immediately. Or, more probably, it is the political commentary happening.

The breadth of the story is about different literature books, especially, as you can tell by the title, Jane Eyre. It seems that if you time travel into a novel, you can change the way it turns out – at least from that publishing forward. This makes, as you can imagine, the original manuscripts of great literature extremely valuable and important. However, the only constant in this mash-up of time and literature is the constant referral to the War in the Crimea. Which, according to my research (and, I actually researched, I couldn’t believe I had missed such a politically charged war) happened over 100 years ago. So, I can only assume it is some oblique reference to current warlike conditions and many a political statement was being made. Or, at least the same statement – over and over again. And, it grew tiresome.

One of the reasons I listened to this novel was that I read many review that reference the humor in it. Sadly, I found it devoid of humor other than a wry smile a time or two. I don’t know if it was the British influence, the fact that I listened instead of read, I zoned out during those parts, or it just wasn’t funny. But, I was sorely disappointed.

Ultimately, I reluctantly give this one 2.5 stars. I really wanted to like it more. I really did. I am upgrading it to 3 stars because Ms. Duerdan made me want to hear more.

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