I don’t usually use the book-jacket description, but in this case, I couldn’t explain the essence of this followup to The Eyre Affair better:
If Thursday thought she could avoid the spotlight after her heroic escapades in the pages of Jane Eyre, she was sorely mistaken. The unforgettable literary detective…has another think [sic] coming.
The love of her life has been eradicated by the corrupt multinational Goliath, and to rescue him Thursday must retrieve a supposedly vanquished enemy from the pages of “The Raven.” But Poe is off-limits to even the most seasoned literary interloper. Enter a professional: the man-hating Miss Havisham from Dickens’s Great Expectations. As Miss H’s new apprentice, Thursday keeps her motives secret as she learns the ropes of Jurisfiction, where she moonlights as a Prose Resource Operative inside books. As if jumping into the works of Kafka and Austen, and even Beatrix Potter’s Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, weren’t enough, Thursday finds herself the target of a series of potentially lethal coincidences, the authenticator of a newly discovered play by the Bard himself and the only one who can prevent an unidentifiable pink sludge from engulfing all life on Earth.
Whew. See why I couldn’t sum that up any better? Ironically, this even leaves out a couple of the plotlines, including a major one about Neanderthals – which was one of my favorites.
I liked this book better than The Eyre Affair. Maybe it was because I knew exactly what to expect this time, and I didn’t worry about the book’s structure or the insane number of various intertwined plots. I relaxed and just took it at face value, not bothering to figure out how something like a “footnoterphone” would work/look like in real life. It’s a book. And a funny one at that.
My favorite scene was Thursday’s trial, which followed Joseph K’s trial from Kafka’s The Trial. (How’s that for using the word “trial” three times in one sentence??) Jasper Fforde has amazing talent, being able to replicate the tone and feel in classic literature with a precision that’s scary. From Kafka’s surrealist absurdity to Poe-esque poetry filled with Jack Schitt’s obscenities, he gets it right every time. I’ve never even read Great Expectations, and yet I don’t doubt that when I do, I will recognize Miss Havisham’s speech and mannerisms.
And in all this, Fforde still manages to create something that isn’t just a 400-page literary play on words. There are actually moments of sadness in this book, as well as a fairly strong stance on evolution, unethical science, and corporate profit. One of my favorite lines was: “Growth purely for its own sake is the philosophy of cancer.”
I can’t describe how good this series is. It’s hysterical. It’s fun. It’s a literary explosion. I can’t wait to read the next book, and recommend this series to everyone.