The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde

Several people have recommended in the past that I read this, but I never got round to it quite simply because I’d never read Jane Eyre. I am aware this is a shocking lapse on my part, but meh. It never really appealed. I saw the film when it came out a couple of yearse ago, so I sort of know the story, and that didn’t really do much to encourage my Bronte readings either. Then I saw the Eyre Affair for super cheaps and I figured why not. I was waiting for my next review (Red Seas Over Red Skies) to arrive.

As it turned out, a lack of Bronte-knowledge was not a massive hindrance. The book uses Jane Eyre more as a maguffin than anything else (though what little knowledge I did have of Eyre nudged me into noticing some – fairly obvious – plot parallels between it and The Eyre Affair).

Ok, I think I may have to abbreviate the books for ease of reference now; typing them both out in full is irritating me.

It’s not glaringly obvious from the outset (or, as far as I recall, the blurb) but tEA is set in a parallel universe whose varying differences are suggested slowly throughout the course of the plot. You quickly pick up on this fact, however, and to be honest, playing spot the difference between the tEA world and the real world is about half of the fun of the book. I’m well aware that tEA is meant to be fantastic and wondrous and brilliant but I really couldn’t see it, so I had to find other ways to amuse myself as I pottered through. I’m not saying it’s terrible, honest I’m not, but it’s not mind-shatteringly excellent either… which rather goes against a lot of what people have told me about it in the past. The puns (of which there are a good many) I found lame or just a bit awkward, and the literary name dropping fell flat. A character named “Landen Park-Lane” is not my idea of witty or hilarious. It’s probably meant to be ironic humour or something. I don’t know. Not sure I care, really.

Anyway, sorry, I digressed a little there. The actual plotting of the book is both fine and clever. It’s a good story and it’s not badly written. The details just let it down though, at least for me. There’s a terrible sense of the author trying too hard, especially with the humour. It’s dad-jokes, but worse because they don’t have nostalgia value. I’d be interested to see if that alters in his other books, but I imagine it’s part of the style and that it hangs around throughout. Oh well. We shall see, anyway. The books are very cheap and I am often lacking in reading material. I sort of enjoyed it too, in a mindless way. It’s an ideal train book, really. Something you don’t have to concentrate on very hard, but it distracts you just enough from the real world to be worth the effort.

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About readerofelse

A student of a redundant, useless and thoroughly interesting subject and reader of many books, particularly fantasy, science fiction and plenty else besides.
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