Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

Book Cover Image: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper FfordeTitle: Lost in a Good Book

Author: Jasper Fforde

Narrator: Emily Gray

Audiobook Length: 12 hours, 59 minutes

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):

“If Thursday thought she could avoid the spotlight after her heroic escapades in the pages of Jane Eyre, she was sorely mistaken. The unforgettable literary detective whom Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times calls “part Bridget Jones, part Nancy Drew and part Dirty Harry” had another think coming. The love of her life has been eradicated by Goliath, everyone’s favorite corrupt multinational. To rescue him Thursday must retrieve a supposedly vanquished enemy from the pages of “The Raven.” But Poe is off-limits to even the most seasoned literary interloper. Enter a professional: the man-hating Miss Havisham from Dickens’s Great Expectations. As her new apprentice, Thursday keeps her motives secret as she learns the ropes of Jurisfiction, where she moonlights as a Prose Resource Operative inside books. As if jumping into the likes of Kafka, Austen, and Beatrix Potter’s Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies weren’t enough, Thursday finds herself the target of a series of potentially lethal coincidences, the authenticator of a newly discovered play by the Bard himself, and the only one who can prevent an unidentifiable pink sludge from engulfing all life on Earth.”

Thoughts: Lost in a Good Book continues where the first novel ends and ends with a nice lead-in to the third novel in the series. The entire world created by Jasper Fforde remains surprising, as Fforde shares more details of his version of England in the mid-1980s with his typical tongue-in-cheek methodology. All of the characters, in addition to the various subplots, are as quirky as one would expect of a Fforde novel. It makes for an engaging, enjoyable story that is, unfortunately, not quite as good as the first novel.

Thursday Next is such a great female heroine. She is erudite and well-read. She is tough and more than capable of holding her own against anyone. It is refreshing to read of a female main character that does not need a man for happiness or success but rather chooses one out of mutual respect and love. Her relationship with Landon is touching and yet very modern in the independence granted to each. Even better, she seriously kicks butt when it comes to her moral compass, fortitude and capabilities in combat. Thursday is truly a role model for women everywhere.

While the idea of literature as being more popular than anything else is intriguing, the idea of literary characters able to move into and out of their books brings the idea of realistic characters to an entirely new level. Thursday’s foray in Jurisfiction is as interesting as it is fantastic. Any bibliophile will get a kick out of seeing Miss Havisham brought to life outside of the pages of Great Expectations.

The first narrator, Susan Duerdan, was excellent. Her voice was pleasant and soothing to the ear. She moved between female and male characters with ease, distinguishing among them all very well. The latest narrator, Emily Gray, is not quite as enjoyable. While her voice is pleasant, I was turned off by her characterization of all of the male characters within the novel. She makes them all sound slightly mentally challenged and slow. It is a personification that bothered me quite a bit and did detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. As she is the narrator for the rest of the series, I will have to think twice about continuing the series via audiobook versus in print.

In this second of the Thursday Next series, I want to say I loved it as much as I did the first one. There is a lot to love – same quirky humor, same fascinating “alternative” history, same lovely literary references. It is so easy to get excited about a society that is passionate about books…and dodos. However, due to a change in narrator, I was not as engaged as I was with the previous book. There were times I was considering fast-forwarding through a section or two, thinking how unnecessary it is for the overall story. This is not a reaction I want to have with this series, and I hope that it is evidence of Lost in a Good Book just being a weaker story rather than a trend for the series.

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