“My father had a face that could stop a clock.”
Somewhere in the heart of every reader lies the desire to write a series of time-travelling mystery novels in which, among other things, famous books and certainly puns about books, play significant roles. It helps if you’re English like Jasper Fforde or Jodi Taylor, but you can be an Anglophiliac like Connie Stevens, or just you’re own thing like Tim Powers if need be.
This one in particular is quite famous and I think beloved, and involves Thursday Next, who begins working with the Special Operations Network in part because her father was an agent, and then gets put on special assignment to work with the time travelling division because the figure they’re trying to get may be coming for her next but also because as his former student she is primed to recognize him if she sees him. The plan goes awry and she’s gravely injured and apparently her target dies. So that all seems great. Well, there’s still 80% more of the novel.
She moves to her hometown where a regional branch of her agency is, that and her ex-boyfriend, who also happens to work for the agency. So why is this called the Eyre Affair? Well, part of the crime or time crime involves the possession and theft of original manuscripts. Fforde weaves little historical inconsistencies throughout the novel like that no one knows who Winston Churchill is and that every agrees that Jane Eyre is a wonderful novel with a terrible ending. In this world Jane goes off to the colonies with St John and not Rochester. So it turns out that maybe her old enemy is not dead, and meddling with time (he is not; he is). And so there we get the plot.
I wish this novel were funnier, but it’s somewhat funny. I ended up possessing the first several of these, so I guess I will find out.