Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jasper Fforde AND Charlotte Bronte

Many ask me, “What are you reading?” At this time I must answer that I am not reading something I have never read before, but that I am re-reading a book by an author introduced to me a couple years ago by one of my fellow co-workers.

The book? – The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. In fact I have almost finished the re-reading but have now paused to pick up a book (also one I have previously read) which is frequently referred to in Mr. Fforde’s work – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. In fact, I plan on reading other books referred to within the spell-binding plot of Mr. Fforde’s Sci-Fi/Mystery work (which is filled with literary allusions, puns and twists) – especially Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens.

The Eyre Affair is the first in a series starring Thursday Next, a woman employed by the LiteraTec division of Spec Ops in an England not exactly the same as the England of our world. History has been changed (the Crimean War still goes on, Wales is a separate Republic, and Zeppelins are the usual mode of air-transport) and people can change the great classics of literature by erasing lines or characters from the original manuscript thereby causing all copies and versions of the same title to be affected world-wide –hence the need for the LiteraTec Operatives.

Why read Jane Eyre before finishing The Eyre Affair? Well, first of all remember this is a re-reading of both for me. Then consider that in Jasper Fforde’s novel, Miss Bronte’s novel is slightly different from our true Jane Eyre. Also things start happening to it and within it that, well, suffice it to say I just wanted to see the differences and make comparisons between the two books. Since I don’t have a copy of Jane Eyre, though, I am reading it online from the Project Gutenberg free access. ( or just Google any classic title and look for the listing for your title with the Gutenberg URL.)

While you are online and after you have enjoyed reading The Eyre Affair or any of the subsequent books by Jasper Fforde, I highly recommend checking out his website. You will find a whole realm of interesting tidbits including supposedly deleted scenes, Goliath Corporation ads (inside joke), etc. to tickle your grey cells. How he finds time to create a website as complex as his books and still write is beyond me.

I really enjoy Jasper Fforde’s style of writing. His wit combined with his amazing imagination makes it difficult to stop anywhere while reading – in other words he writes a real page-turner. I do strongly recommend that you either read Jane Eyre or view one of the many film versions of this great classic novel before reading The Eyre Affair. But -if you enjoy British authors, their humor and style; if you have read any of the classics; or if you just enjoy a good alternative history, Sci-Fi Mystery you ought to try The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. It will certainly make you smile if not laugh out loud.

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