Midweek @ Musings: Abandoning “The Eyre Affair”

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.


8 thoughts on “Midweek @ Musings: Abandoning “The Eyre Affair”

  1. Oh no! And I raved so much about this one. Different strokes, etc, etc, on to the next one!

    (did you like the Baconians, who came door to door proletyzing that Francis Bacon wrote the plays, not Shakespeare? I laughed everytime they appeared)

    • Raidergirl, you’re right about “different strokes”; this one just didn’t work for me. Even the Baconians couldn’t salvage it for me. I was amused, but ultimately felt like each chapter was one gimmick after another. Oh well, as you say, on to the next!

  2. I read to the end of this book, but didn’t fall in love with it in the way others have. I thought the concept was fantastic, but I also thought it was trying too hard at times. I haven’t gone on to read the rest of the series.

    • Jackie, I agree completely about a fantastic concept, trying too hard. And it’s funny, 100+ pages in when I realized it just wasn’t grabbing me and reading was becoming a chore, I actually asked myself, “what would Jackie do?” So your diligence this year in abandoning books you don’t care for has rubbed off on me!

  3. I did like The Eyre Affair, but it was a few years ago and now this kind of things appeal much less. I suspect there’s more to be gained by reading the works that inspired the author.

    • Fleur, I remember being excited to find this book because so many people had raved about it. But like you, I think something changed in me between acquisition and reading, and this is not the type of book I would choose in a shop today.

  4. I’ve been meaning to read this for ages, and borrowed it from a friend months ago, but I keep coming across negative reviews… a lot of people say the subsequent books in the series are better.

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