Tuesday, 28 November 2006

The Eyre affair

Listening to:

Mozart, piano concerto no. 20 in D minor, K.466. Kathryn Stott (piano), and the Manchester Camerata conducted by Douglas Boyd.

Just read:

Jasper Fforde, The Eyre Affair.

This is a very entertaining comic novel, set in 1985, but on an Earth with an alternative history. The main character is a detective called Thursday Next. Just this name suggests that the novel is not going to be taking itself entirely seriously. Plenty of details in the alternative history support this: Wales is a rigid socialist republic in the vein of North Korea, and England and Russia have been fighting the Crimean War for over a century.

Perhaps more importantly, the metaphysics of the setup allows people (or at least, Thursday’s father) to travel in time, and to move in and out of fiction. Thus, this book is the Eyre Affair because it features a villain who messes about with the novel Jane Eyre, as well as conducting all of his other nefarious plots. One of the many amusing touches is that when Thursday enters the novel to catch the bad guy, she ends up altering the ending so that it ends the way the way it does in “our world”. Up until that point, everyone in Thursday Next’s world agreed that Jane Eyre ended rather insipidly.

It’s all very clever, and amusing with it. What’s not to like?