February 2012

This is the first in a series of books which create the idea that literature is real – that the characters in books do exist, albeit in a sort of parallel universe. It is a world where literature is central to life, people call the police because they don’t like ‘Titus Andronicus’ and where people riot because they disagree with the legalisation of surrealism. This world is policed by Jurisfiction and the books feature the adventures of one of their operatives, Thursday Next.

The Eyre Affair begins with the theft of the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit, and Thursday soon finds herself approached by those trying to locate it as she has previous knowledge of the suspected perpetrator, Acheron Hades. A confrontation with him goes horribly wrong and Thursday finds herself in hospital. After her recovery, Thursday takes a job in Swindon which puts her back near her family. Her uncle Mycroft shows her a device her has perfected, the Prose Portal, which allows you to physically enter a book or a poem. However, Hades strikes again, kidnapping Mycroft and stealing the portal. He first shows his intent by removing and killing a minor character from Martin Chuzzlewit, and then, when the ransom hand-over fails, kidnapping Jane Eyre from the original manuscript. This causes copies of the story all over the world to go blank – because the novel is written in the first person, without Jane, there is no story. It is up to Thursday to track down Hades, rescue Jane Eyre and return her to the manuscript.

This a very clever piece of story-telling, which crosses many genres. The majority of the group enjoyed it, picking out highlights like the clever naming of characters (Millon de Floss, Landen Parke-Laine). However, the alternative version of reality, including the controversial, on-going Crimean War, of which Thursday is a veteran and which cost the life of her much-loved brother, meant that some members of the group struggled with it. Overall though, although a few people had some trouble getting in to it, the book was very popular with some laugh out loud moments.

The book for next month is The Winter Ghosts, by Kate Mosse. We will meet on Thursday 15th March.


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