The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde

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.



A(nother) Review: This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

This Is Going to Hurt is an unexpectedly politically charged memoir from Dr Adam Kay. It starts with Kay being struck off the medical register – this is the story as to why he’s being struck off.[1]


Kay tells his story in diary form, all entries from his diaries at the time – although I suspect some entries have been omitted – with footnotes[2] added for context. [3]


Each section of the book takes us through Kay’s career in obs and gynae[4] job by job and brings us stories that are touching, bizzare and sometimes downright hilarious.


Some of the entries are only a few lines long, but often hysterical, others are longer but all of them are illuminating peeks into medical life that the likes of Holby City and Casualty[5] can’t quite deliver.


When I say hysterical, I cannot express how much I laughed at this – from the mildly amusing game of spotting the minor Harry Potter characters[6] to the exploration – literally! – of the different objects that people insist on inserting into themselves.[7]


There is only one problem I have with this book.[8] But I can see the reason why, I can begrudgingly accept their use here.[9]


Sadly, there is a reason why – other than sheer exhaustion – that Kay decided to leave the profession and the book gets less and less funny as we start to move through the years. I won’t spoil anything, but the book ends with an open letter addressed directly to Jeremy Hunt.


As a layman, this book seriously brings into focus the challenges our medics face, and how much we as a society take for advantage.


I was going to say that next time they go on strike, they would get my full support[10] but actually they shouldn’t have to go on strike. They shouldn’t be working 90+ hours. We should be spending more money on our NHS to help support these people. These heroes.


Sorry[11] for getting all political on there, but you should count yourselves lucky, the first version of this blog was mostly a political rant.


This Is Going to Hurt is published by Picador on 7th September 2017[12]

[1] The truth is, he resigned back in 2011, he hasn’t practiced for six years and his qualifications have lapsed. All of that is revealed in the opening paragraphs, so no spoilers, I was just trying to create a sense of intrigue.

[2] That’s these things at the bottom of the page

[3] Something I’m experimenting with on this blog post – and for this blog post only. Don’t worry.

[4] Vagina doctor

[5] Don’t get me wrong, I love the ‘Holby Cinematic Universe’ – a phrase that Marvel uses, and that I have borrowed – but they don’t quite always ring true. There can’t be THAT many gay doctors. Can there?

[6] A trick Kay uses to avoid mentioning real names, thereby avoiding lawsuits

[7] My favourite the person who put a condom on a remote control.

[8] The footnotes. I hate them. In most books. I mean they’re seriously distracting, I tend to lose track of what I’m reading each time I turn the page and see there are footnotes – because I’m then skimming ahead to see where the footnotes appear.

[9] The only use of footnotes, I actually liked were in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde – a series set in an alternate version of Swindon (really) in the 1980’s, where literature is alive. Thursday Next ends up using a device called a footnote-phone to have conversations. In this instance, the footnotes actually progress the story.

[10] Not that they didn’t last time, but I’ll mean it more this time.

[11] Not sorry.

[12] Buy it.