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The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde


The premise behind this book is fascinating. A detective in a special unit called the LiterTecs (Literary Detectives) is called in when the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit is stolen, assumedly for nefarious purposes. Her rival, Acheron Hades, has learned how to enter books and change them from the inside, and his next goal is to kidnap Jane Eyre, something our heroine, Tuesday Next, must stop.

I really loved this basis for the story, and how important literature is to these people. In this world, the authorship of Shakespeare's plays is a constant topic of discussion, even among ordinary, everyday people. The theft of Martin Chuzzlewit, a lesser-known Dickens work, is an outrage not only to the literary community, but to the world at large. It made me happy to even dream that such a world exists.

However, the book didn't follow through on its premise. It kept my interest, and I intend to read the next one in the series, but I have several difficulties with this one. The most major thing was it was inconsistent in its use of person. Warning, spoilers for the end follow. *g* The signal that Tuesday is ready to leave Jane Eyre is a certain phrase that, when said, will be written into Jane Eyre, thus letting her partners know she is ready. But it doesn't work because they have waited until Jane has left for the Rivers' before destroying Acheron, and since Jane Eyre is written in first person, anything said outside of Jane's presence will not affect the book. Well, The Eyre Affair is written in first person, but there are several places where we read about things for which Tuesday was not present. Now, if Fforde had made clear that Tuesday heard about these things later, and thus could include them in her report, I would have no problem with it. It annoyed me even before I got to the end--this switching from limited first-person view to omniscient third-person--but when the climax of the whole book turned out to hinge on the fact that the first-person narrative of Jane Eyre prevented Tuesday's signal from appearing in the text, it really showed itself to be a huge inconsistency.