The Eyre Affair by Jasper Ffrode
In books and movies, I have always come across how paintings contain a whole new world inside. It's just a matter of hopping in and out of the frames. But with Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair, you can actually go inside a literary work via an invention involving bookworms (the larvae not the people). For book geeks, this would be the best thing since, well books.
Summary from Goodreads:
Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality, (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë's novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.
Thursday Next, the protagonist, is an operative of the Literary Detective Division of the Special Operations Network, a police division responsible for protecting literary works from corruption, fraud, illegal traders, and copyright infringements. It all started as a "ho-hum" job for Thursday up until the theft of Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit original manuscript. What follows is the recruitment of Thursday to SO-5, a division shrouded in mystery, in order to catch the one responsible for the said thievery: Acheron Hades. He is the most villanous criminal with shape shifting and mind controlling powers, as well as immunity to most weapons. When the stake out for Hades resulted in a huge mess, Thursday decided to head back to Swindon, her hometown to take a job as a LiteraTec which is actually due to a tip she got from her future self. There she witnesses the power of the Prose Portal invented by her uncle, Mycroft Next. This device enables anyone to enter a literary work. Unfortunately, Hades has gotten hold of the invention and is holding Next's Aunt and Uncle hostage and is using the machine to commit literary crime of the most heinous kind, such as murder and abduction of literary characters. Resulting in the alteration of the beloved classics. Not only that, the invention also attracted the attention of the Goliath Corporation, a multi-national company that has much influence not only in economic affairs but in the government as well who wishes to use the machine for self-serving purposes. Throw in some ex-fiance issues and family drama and you have got yourself one unique and amazing novel.
I was thrown in a bit of a loop at first because of the fact that the book was set in the past, 1985 to be exact, where air travel was still via a dirigible. But then, elements which I consider futuristic, were also present in that circa as well, such as time travelling and cloning of the now extinct dodos for pets. It seems weird but it works in this novel.
Thursday Next makes for a great strong female character. she is smart and tough. She is one of those heroines whose stubbornness works to her advantage.
The language is witty and makes for an excellent English Lit and History lesson without it being dismal. I found myself getting curious and researching literary works and authors and certain historical events. Jasper Fforde's witty lines and puns add much enjoyment to the book as well.
All I can say is....
You Should Read This!