I’m late with today’s post, because I was in a quandary. I wanted to write about the “fun” reading I had just started, and that I plan to continue through Christmas. But I had a problem: my first fun read was turning out to be not-so-fun. I picked up a copy of The Eyre Affair three years ago in a used bookstore. I finally decided to read it, thinking it would be the perfect read for a week when I’m off work and looking for some mindless fun. I made it halfway through, but couldn’t get into the story.
This book is one acquired in my early years as a blogger and LibraryThing member. It’s a “popular” sort of book with broad appeal. But my reading tastes have evolved since then, and I don’t often go for the “popular” books. With The Eyre Affair, the concept was cute, but way overdone. Read on for my review. And now I’m off to read something fun!
The Eyre Affair‘s premise had great potential: a mystery set in England c. 1985, involving time travel and a society obsessed with literature. The protagonist, Thursday Next, is a Special Operative in a government agency devoted to “literary detection.” Thursday has had a long, successful career as a Special Operative, and hopes to move up in the service. She’s unmarried, much to her parents’ disappointment. But it’s not for lack of opportunity; she still harbors feelings for an old flame, Landen Parke-Laine.
When Thursday is called out on a special assignment that results in fatalities, she accepts a post in Swindon, her hometown, to get away from the pressure and visibility of London. But of course she can’t really escape, and the “baddies” turn up in Swindon. Corporations battle with the government for control, people disappear, Thursday’s father shows up occasionally to report on his time travels, and elaborate contraptions often come into play.
The characters have “clever” names: Thursday Next, Millon de Floss, Jack Schitt, and so on. Each short chapter tossed out new characters, new situations, and new stunts. But there was also a fair amount of violence. Now I’m not the sort who prefers to read about kittens in baskets, but the violence juxtaposed with wordplay and cleverness just didn’t work for me. And I just got tired of the cleverness.
On top of all this, the mystery was slow to develop. The “blurb” on my edition states, “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.” After 175 pages, this storyline had yet to develop, and I was no longer willing to wait for it.