An alternate version of Swindon in the 1980’s doesn’t seem the obvious place to set a book, but that’s exactly what Jasper Fforde did with his Thursday Next series.
The Eyre Affair is the first book in one of my favourite series, but one I haven’t read for a long time. Going back to the very beginning, I was surprised to discover how simple it all was.
The world of Thursday Next is one where Wales is its own republic, cheese is smuggled across the borders, England is at war with Russia over the Crimea and literature is the dominant cultural force.
There us uproar when Archeron Hades steals the original Martin Chuzzlewit manuscript and threatens to destroy its characters.
This is a fantasy series, akin to Pratchett’s Discworld – though with far fewer books – and as such by the end, it became complex and self-referential. Even the above summary seems a complicated – though is nothing like how it ends up.
I was surprised to discover how simple it was. Fforde manages to ease the reader in to this strange new world, one step at a time, so that as more and more bizarre things happen, they don’t seem that unusual.
I have to confess, I’ve never read any of Pratchett’s Discworld series – it always seemed a bit daunting, the sheer number of books incomprehensible and impenetrable, but now seeing how simple the Thursday Next series starts I’m tempted to give it a go.
On the flip side, If you’re a Pratchett fan and you’re looking for an easy, escapist read filled with bad puns, then The Eyre Affair – and the rest of the Thursday Next series – is a very good place to start.