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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Eyre Affair

Reviewed: March 12, 2006
By: Jasper Fforde
Publisher: New English Library
373 pages, $14.99

Thursday Next is the unlikely name of the heroine and narrator of The Eyre Affair. The Special Operations Network deals with many arcane types of crime. Thursday’s father used to be a member of the Chronoguard before he adopted radical views and became an outlaw. Thursday herself is an operative in the Literary Detective Division.

Litratecs are in charge of preserving the literary heritage by making sure that nothing happens to change the original manuscripts from which they were propagated. Imagine what it would be like if Robinson Crusoe drowned before he got to the island, or if Watson never met Holmes and the adventures were narrated by Holmes’ housekeeper instead?

A bad man named Acheron Hades has been kidnapping characters from works of fiction and holding them for ransom. He has found a means of actually extracting people from their stories and translating them to the real world, as well as a method, actually perfected by a relative of Thursday’s, of inserting himself into stories and messing up their plot lines.

Acheron is the most dangerous man in this or any other world. He has the uncanny ability to make people do his bidding, and seems impervious to all manner of injury. Thursday has to track him down, find a way to hold him, rescue Jane Eyre from his meddling and bring her aunt back from the pages of Wordworth’s Lake Poems, and figure out who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays.

Thursday’s world is not ours. It’s 1985 and the Crimean War is still in progress. The Jane Eyre that she knows doesn’t end the way ours does - not at first anyway, and it appears that that her time travelling father is trying to get our realities to line up a little better, though he does seem to like the version of reality in which the Beatles are still recording together in 1978.

The Eyre Affair is a great introduction to a series which seems have a lot of potential for fun and literary hi-jinx. I’ll keep you posted.

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