I'd heard about The Eyre Affair before – something about an agent named Thursday Next and being able to hop into a book and meet the characters and possibly change the outcome of the book's story. I was sort of "meh" over this idea. I've read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke where someone has the ability to make pieces of the book they're reading appear just by reading aloud, and someone in the real world disappears into the book world as well. This wasn't done in a fun way though, it was a sinister talent. I had a hard time imagining visiting a book in the flesh to be "fun" because of it – more like a horrible trap. Anyway, I saw this book at my FOL bookstore for 25 cents, picked it up, then later that day I was stuck in a traffic jam. I was the passenger so I started reading a little bit, and I was surprised – hey, this book is kind of good. And it IS a fun to read book too. wow.. a couple of days later and this book was done.
I highly recommend this to literature fans. If you are a Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Bronte, Dickens or english history fan there are lots of little inside jokes going on here. Even if you aren't so into these things, this book is still enjoyable. A rudimentary knowledge of the basic plot of Jane Eyre helps though. The parallel world described here is surprising and refreshing – its 1985, London, and highbrow art and literature is very important to the masses and a part of everyday life. Richard III is treated like a Rocky Horror Picture show production – complete with audience participation and people who have been to over 30 showings, and little boys trade Henry Fielding cards. Gangs of students backing certain artistic movements riot against other conflicting movements. Compared to our values, everybody in this book seems a little on the nutty side.
Thursday Next is a Crimean War veteran, ex-police officer and now agent in Special Ops 27 – the literary division – they solve crimes like forgeries of famous manuscripts. Usually this is a pencil pushing type of job, but it's getting more dangerous every year as organized crime gets more and more involved with literature crimes. Thursday is after a master criminal who has stolen the original Martin Chuzzlewit manuscript. This criminal is number 3 on the most wanted list, has special powers and has killed 42 people. Peppering this story all is Thursday's odd family and coworkers - her father a rogue ChronoGuard (time travel police) agent, her aunt and uncle – math genius and genius inventor, her pet dodo (created with a cloning kit, version 1.2), Spike the cheerful vampire/werewolf hunter…the list goes on and on.