The Eyre Affair
Jasper Fforde

Review by Mary Matus

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde is a funny and compelling novel that will suck you into a world where time travel is possible, vampires exist and you can actually get sucked inside a book.

Although the story takes place in 1985, Fforde's world is nothing like the 1985 that we remember. England has been involved in the Crimean War with Russia for more than 100 years. England is enforced by a government agency known as Spec Ops, which has departments dealing with such things as time travel, vampires, weird things and weirder things, and literature.

Protagonist Thursday Next is a "Literatec," a detective in the literature division of Spec Ops. Thursday first investigates a missing manuscript. The case becomes more complicated when Eyre is pulled out of the novel, and Thursday must try to find her and return her before the novel is changed forever.

Fforde's love for literature is apparent from his many literary references and his portrayal of a world where literature is a national obsession. A production of Richard III seems more like a showing of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," as the audience shouts comments and participates in the production.

The novel showcases Fforde's talent for humor. It is full of examples of Fforde's wit, from the subtle to the absurd. One early chapter shows several inventions of Thursday's eccentric uncle Mycroft, including a Rolls Royce that changes colors and a way to deliver pizzas by fax.

The only weakness in the novel comes toward the end. As the book closes, Fforde seems a little too anxious to finish the various story lines. Although the reader wants these characters to have a happy ending, too much happens too quickly in the final chapters.

Overall, The Eyre Affair is an excellent first attempt for new novelist Jasper Fforde. The Eyre Affair contains elements of humor, fantasy and mystery that will delight readers.

Viking Press; ISBN: 0670030643.

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