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vendredi 8 avril 2011

Books Part 2

OK, enough of films (though I could bang on about films I've loved/hated all day, despite having rarely been in a cinema since my elder daughter was born in December 2001), and back to books.

One of my very, very favourite current, living authors (though admittedly there aren't many DEAD ones I like to be honest) is Jasper Fforde.

But where to start if you don't know his work? It sounds ghastly and pretentious and silly and, while it most definitely IS the last of those adjectives, it most vehemently ISN'T the first two. In a nutshell (if you've ever read through any of my previous posts, you'll know this "nutshell" idea isn't going to end well), his heroine is a detective called Thursday Next. She lives in a town in England - Swindon - in a sort of parallel 1980s - by parallel I mean that it's not science fiction (I hate science fiction apart from The Hitchhikers's Guide, strangely enough by a dead author, disproving my previous point) but that it's a 1980s Swindon that only partially existed. In Thursday's Swindon, people commonly have dodos as pets, the Crimean War is still raging, England and Wales are also at loggerheads, croquet is a national sport, etc.

Thursday works for Spec Ops 27, which is the literary detectives branch. She deals with bogus original manuscripts, etc. The main event in this book is Thursday's battle with the evil Acheron, who kidnaps Jane Eyre (I knew this was going to be difficult to describe). Forays inside the plot are necessary to save Jane and the national treasure that the book represents. This first book (The Eyre Affair) is hilarious and clever at the same time. There are so many details that catch your eye...

Subsequent adventures see Thursday have her husband's existence eradicated from everyone's memory, be employed by Jurisfiction (INSIDE book world - her mentor is Miss Havisham who is a great fan of motor car racing. You will learn all about how books are REALLY written (none of this "author" rubbish!) and meet a wealth of amazing, sometimes vaguely familiar, characters...) and oh, so much more (did you know that in Bookworld all the characters in Wuthering Heights are forced to go to anger management counselling, with sessions held in one of the rooms not mentioned in the novel? Or that Jurisfiction have a headquarters set up in the ballroom of Northanger Abbey?...).

I have loved every book in the series and can only recommend that you dig in... I would recommend that you read the books in order: it's hard enough as it is to keep track of who's who! I particularly liked Something Rotten, the 4th book in the series - in which, amongst other things, Hamlet is revealed to be a Mel Gibson fan and Ophelia mounts a coup to take over the play... but truly enjoyed them all and am eagerly awaiting my birthday (18 May if anyone's interested) when my dad has promised to buy me the newest one, One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing.

So go on, get out there and start reading Jasper Fforde!

By the way, he has also written other novels, though I've only read the two "Nursery Crimes" novels: The Big Over Easy (about Humpty Dumpty: did he fall or WAS HE PUSHED?) and The Fourth Bear, featuring a unique villain in the shape of the Gingerbread Man - "psychopath, sadist, convicted murderer and cake/biscuit". Both were good, and definitely amusing, but not as good as the Thursday Next series...

This must be the biggest nutshell in history...

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