Title: The Eyre Affair
Author: Jasper Fforde
Narrator: Susan Duerdan
Length of Audiobook: 12 hours, 14 minutes
Synopsis (Courtesy of IndieBound):
“In Jasper Fforde’s Great Britain, circa 1985, time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career.”
Thoughts: Audiobooks, for me, need to be fun and engaging without requiring my undivided attention. I tend to listen while at work and need to be able to work and listen at the same time. Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair fit perfectly into this criteria.
Fforde’s version of Great Britain and the world is unique and quirky. For the bibliophiles among us, a world in which literature is serious business, where people debate the true author of Shakespeare’s plays and hold Milton conventions, is like a dream come true! In addition, he excels at showcasing the ripple effect of events. How would the world be different if the Crimean War had not ended in 1856? What if time travel were possible? Fforde’s world is both fascinating and scary in how one simple change to real-life events can have lasting effects.
Thursday Next is a formidable heroine, intelligent and tough with a sensitive side that has never reconciled itself to the loss of her fiance. She proves that one can be bookish and still kick butt. On the surface, Thursday is not what one would call fragile, but her fragility shines through as she discusses her absent father, her brother, and her desire to catch the bad guy. This balance between frailty and doggedness makes Thursday a fascinating character and one that requires further reading to uncover all of her mysteries.
Susan Duerdan is a fantastic narrator. She excels at portraying the nuances of Thursday’s character in such a way that enhances the story. Her ability to distinguish between the multiple characters makes it very easy for the listener to quickly determine which character is speaking at a given time. In addition, Ms. Duerdan has found a way to instill a sense of the cheekiness and fun that is such a highlight of the novel. The listener can tell that she enjoyed reading the novel aloud as much as the listener enjoys listening to it.
After rapidly finished The Eyre Affair, one understands why it would be considered among the top addicting series. While the story itself does close nicely with no loose ends, a reader is left wanting to explore this unusual but fascinating world of Fforde’s in further detail. What other literary figures will make their appearance in future novels? I can’t wait to find out!