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By the Chapter, Day 1 | The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel by Jasper Fforde

February 16, 2009

theeyreaffairWelcome to By the Chapter. This week’s featured book is The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel by Jasper Fforde. Sharing hosting duties with me this week is Jeanne from Necromancy Never Pays.

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If you’re not familiar with The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel here’s a little background on the book from Fantastic Fiction:

In Jasper Fforde’s Great Britain, circa 1985, 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 and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career. Fforde’s ingenious fantasy-enhanced by a Web site that re-creates the world of the novel–unites intrigue with English literature in a delightfully witty mix.

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I’ve read the first 5 chapters of this 36 chapter book. So far…
We’ve been introduced to our main character, Thursday Next, a Special Operative in the Literary detection. Her current case is the theft of a manuscript from the Charles Dickens museum. The manuscript is protected better than all the gold stored at Fort Knox (a US military base). What makes Ms. Next especially uneasy about this theft is that she advised the museum on what security measures to put in place. Another troubling aspect is the ‘how’ of this disappearance as none of the usual telltale clues have been left behind. No fingerprints, no video images, no point of entry or exit, no witnesses, no anything. It appears that the manuscript has simply vanished into thin air.

While working her current case which has her chasing non-existent clues Thursday is approached by a department head from another unit. Unbeknownest to Thursday an alleged suspect has been identified and Tamworth wants her help capturing this man. Why you ask? Because Ms. Next has a prior close relationship with the suspect and can identify him when others can’t. You see our suspect has some very unique abilities such as you can’t mention his name as he senses it having been spoken. Once spoken he uses it to track the presence of his pursuers making sneaking up on him rather hard to do. You also can’t believe a thing he says or does such are his abilities to fool those around him. Thursday accepts her new assignment and becomes involved in a stakeout of said suspect that goes disastrously wrong with dire consequences. Once she recovers from her injuries she decides not to return her previous assignment but to be take a new one. This assignment will have her returning home. And how exactly did she decide that this was the assignment she should take? She appears, as herself to herself, in a vision while recuperating in the hospital.

While packing to leave the hospital more mysterious things start happening. A package is delivered containing a man’s overcoat and milliner’s bill from another century. Who should these items belong to but one Edward Fairfax Rochester, Esq. from Jane Eyre. Adding to the mystery – Thursday and Mr. Rochester have meet before and I think she means literally.

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I can’t decide what to make of this book so far. It’s a little ‘out there’, being as it’s set in an alternate type universe, compared to my usual reading but still has some basis in reality. I think one of the handicaps for me will be I’m not overly familiar with the literary characters or stories referenced in this book. I haven’t read any classic literature as it doesn’t hold any appeal for me. I’m betting I’ll miss literary references important to this story that others would pick up on simply because of their own familiarity with those works. Also I don’t usually read for detail and this storyline appears to need that. I don’t skim when I read but I also don’t pay a lot of the attention to the finer points either.

It’s doing a fair job of holding my interest so far as I’ve read the first 5 chapters without tossing it aside. We’ll have to see how things progress as the week goes on. I think it’ll be an interesting whodunit kind of the story.

I’m expecting that Jeanne will have a very different perspective as this is a re-read for her and she knows what’s coming. Be sure and stop by her blog, Necromancy Never Pays, on Tuesday for the continuation of By the Chapter

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If you’ve read, or are currently reading, The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel please share your thoughts with us.

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This week’s reading scheduling:
Monday: The Printed Page
Tuesday: Jeanne from Necromancy Never Pays
Wednesday: The Printed Page
Thursday: Jeanne from Necromancy Never Pays
Friday: The Printed Page/Jeanne from Necromancy Never Pays
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4 Comments
  1. February 16, 2009 6:41 am

    I will be talking more about the details, but when you read this book for the first time, they’re only important if they amuse you, so don’t worry. You can read The Eyre Affair as a mystery novel and have fun with it, and if you know the literary works, then you can have more fun, but either way, it’s a romp.
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    That’s good to know. I am looking forward to reading more of this book as I find the concept intriguing.

  2. February 16, 2009 8:01 am

    I was a bit unsure of this novel at first, also, but by the end I was sold. I hope you decide you like it!
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    Incentive to keep me plugging away at it.

  3. February 17, 2009 7:53 pm

    I absolutely love this series of books. I loved the alternate world that Fforde makes for Thursday. The literary aspect is what caught my interest to first buy this book but I ended up enjoying the mystery and the humour as well. It is a fun book that I should reread soon. Wish I could take the time to do that now.

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  1. By the Chapter, Day 4 | The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel by Jasper Fforde « The Printed Page

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