Title: The Well of Lost Plots
Author: Jasper Fforde
Narrator: Elizabeth Sastre
Audiobook Length: 12 hours, 12 minutes
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“Thursday Next definitely needs some down time. After two rollicking New York Times bestselling adventures through the Western literary canon, Britain’s Prose-Op is literally and literaturally at her wits’ end — not to mention pregnant. Her job as Miss Havisham’s apprentice at Jurisfiction is as hectic as ever — and not just because she has to moderate rage counseling sessions in Wuthering Heights. So what could be more welcome than a restful stint in the Character Exchange Program down in the hidden depths of the Well of Lost Plots?
She’s supposed to relax while filling in for a sidekick in an unpublished (and unpublishable) detective procedural socked away below the Great Library in the Well of Lost Plots. But a vacation remains elusive. In no time, Thursday discovers that the Well of Lost Plots is a veritable linguistic free-for-all where grammasites run rampant, plot devices are hawked on the black market, and lousy books (like the one she has taken up residence in) are scrapped for salvage. To top it off, a murderer is stalking Jurisfiction personnel and nobody is safe, least of all Thursday herself.”
Thoughts: The Well of Lost Plots continues the tongue-in-cheek adventures of Thursday Next and her foray into the world of Jurisfiction. This time, she is fully immersed in the book world, hiding from Golaith Corporation and the Hades family while she regains her strength and nurtures her growing belly. Next has lost none of her feistiness though, which means that hijinks ensue as she uncovers an insidious plot designed to change the book world forever.
More so than the previous two novels, The Well of Lost Plots offers pure enjoyment for true bibliophiles. The jumps into various books, a trial held by the King and Queen of Hearts, the methodology in which novels are “written” is truly ingenious and absolutely hilarious. There is so much to love, whether it is seeing the inner workings of Wuthering Heights, the passing mentions of high literature, or the darker nature of children’s novels. As I was listening at work, as always, this got me in trouble several times as I had to stop myself from laughing out loud in a completely silent and studious office setting.
The story does tie the first two books together quite nicely but does it in such a way that new readers should have very little difficulty picking up the key plot lines. For those readers who are continuing the story, Mr. Fforde explains these previous key plot points without being redundant or dragging down the current plot. Better yet, Mr. Fforde is able to continue to surprise and engage the reader in such a way that the reader cannot wait for more adventures.
What continues to amaze and delight me is how well this story translates to audio productions. If one didn’t know any better, one would suspect that Mr. Fforde wrote them with audiobooks in mind. The entire scene with the “Misspelling Virus” is supremely effective as the characters do battle with this insidious virus that threatens the plot continuity of any given novel. Audibly, it was a powerful scene; the comedy really shines as a result of the mispronunciations that occur because of the virus. Visually, the reader misses those mispronunciations and must glean them for himself; it is just not as effective a medium to portray the humor in that scene. There are many other scenes – asides, sentences or even simple descriptions, that are much more powerful when heard rather than read, for which it is well worth experiencing at least one of these stories audibly to hear the difference.
Elizabeth Sastre is the third narrator for this series. Her voice is surprisingly similar to the previous two narrators, Susan Duerdin and Emily Gray, which helps with the continuity of the story. There were some interesting differences though, especially with her pronunciation of various names of characters and places. Ms. Sastre was not quite as good at differentiating between the characters as Ms. Duerdin, but she was much better than Ms. Gray, especially among the male voices. Where she excels above the other two, however, is in her ability to capture the sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek portions of the story with the earnestness the character of Thursday Next requires.
Mr. Fforde’s words with Ms. Sastre’s performance combines to make The Well of Lost Plots my favorite Thursday Next novel yet. It continues the brilliantly original and funny story of Thursday Next without growing stale or rehashing previously used jokes. Ms. Sastre is an excellent voice for Thursday, matter-of-fact and honest in her delivery. I had my doubts with the second novel in the series, but after reading this third one, I am definitely ready to continue the series.