Book Discussion: The Eyre Affair ~CAUTION ~ Contains SPOILERS

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Book Discussion: The Eyre Affair ~CAUTION ~ Contains SPOILERS

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Feb 19, 2009, 10:06am

Have it at!

Feb 19, 2009, 10:24am

I read It and It was good.

Feb 19, 2009, 10:26am

There are a lot of wonderful things about this book, but for me, the best was the idea that the book as originally written had Jane going off with St. Jean*. I laughed so hard when I read that part that my wife called up the stairs, and finally came up, to see if I was OK. The idea that Thursday changed the ending to the one found in our current libraries is brilliant.

* Am I the only one who, whenever I encounter this name, "see" Rowan Atkinson mangling it in "Four Weddings"?

Feb 19, 2009, 10:30am

I never read Jane Eyre, nor even known the plot, so I was wondering if that was the case. I think if I had read Jane first the book would have been much funnier yet.

Feb 19, 2009, 10:45am

The Eyre Affair just to get the touchstone in.

First off, a serious fan, has got most of the references to obscure UKisms pinned down at Jasper's website Eyre here. This includes history, and airoplane links! If you've got any remaining UK related questions ask away.

Feb 19, 2009, 11:19am

I like how popular culture is based not on bad musicians with worse clothing, but on classic literature. Punks discussing the bard, now that is cool.

Feb 19, 2009, 11:29am

^That's what drew me in, too. Plus, all the literary references made me want to delve into the classics.

Feb 19, 2009, 1:41pm

I had a hard time getting into the story. I think it can be difficult for me to wrap my head around alternate realities. Fantasies in other worlds are fine, but when our world is tweaked it takes my brain a bit to enjoy the story rather than analyze all the differences. By the middle of the book though, I was captured.

It really does help to have read a lot of the classics. I truly enjoyed the idea of jumping into poems, Wordsworth being a bit of a lech and just how unnerving it would be to be stuck in Poe's poetry.

I'm a huge Jane Eyer fan, so I wallowed in that bit of the story.

How do you all feel about Thursday Next? I think alongside of Susan, in the Pratchett novels, she may be one of my favorite females, and certainly my favorite female detective.

Feb 19, 2009, 2:05pm

#8 Probably I shouldn't comment, as Eyre Affair is the only Thursday Next book I know of that I haven't read (hope the library can find a copy!). That said, from the other books she comes across as someone I'd really like to get to know in RL. So I'll agree with MrsLee's last sentence.

Feb 19, 2009, 2:09pm

After rereading my sentence, I possibly should have said "literary" females. This group can be so literal at times. ;)

Feb 19, 2009, 2:12pm

Oh, I personally loved the way Mr. Rochester came across in "real life" and all the discussion about just what sort of man was he, anyway. The whole crazy wife in the attic thing.

Feb 19, 2009, 2:25pm

I love the group therapy scene.

Feb 19, 2009, 2:29pm

Read this one .....several years ago and loved it. but i love alternate takes on the Classics...on Fairy name it...provided the alternate is well-written and holds its own...this one does. alas, i have read no more Fford....;-(

and i am abig Thursday Next fan, solely on word of mouth...i admit it....

Feb 19, 2009, 2:40pm

jdthloue - "provided the alternate is well-written and holds its own"

That is key for me, also that it keeps the spirit of the original, which this absolutely does. It doesn't have a problem bringing up the problems people have with Jane Eyre, but it isn't disrespectful (is that the right word?) to the original. That's a key point for me in movies as well. I don't mind if certain details are changed, but please don't change the motivations of the characters or the spirit of the book.

*goes to find group therapy scene to refresh my memory.*

Feb 19, 2009, 2:48pm

I like that it examines the cultural differences across time periods. Like how modern people often see Rochester as pathological, but back in the day he was a tortured hero type. Putting those characters in a modern setting like group therapy is an amusing way to do that, imo.

Feb 21, 2009, 6:02pm

Great book. When I read it a couple of years ago and people would ask me what it was about I would say "Its a book about a book". LOL.

Feb 23, 2009, 6:52am

How does the Major Phelps come across to USians? I imagine the return of troops from Iraq and Afganistan (and memories of Vietnam?) might provoke more sympathey with Phelps than Thursday?

Feb 23, 2009, 1:18pm

Done! Loved it!

Damn... now I'm going to have to get my hands on more of these Thursday next books.

I'm with Jim53 in #3, when I read the whining about the ending to Jane Eyre, and how she runs off with 'Sinjin' my eyes popped. I love how the ending we know turned out to be the altered version. And that bit about no one having actually written Shakespeare's plays during the Elizabethan era was a hoot as well.

Now I have this inexplicable urge to read Martin Chuzzlewit!

Feb 23, 2009, 4:00pm

reading_fox - I'm not quite sure what you're after here? I suppose he could be found in any group of veterans. Hoping desperately that it all meant something, that those who sent their comrades to their deaths knew what they were doing and that it was all needed.

I thought his portrayal of the different reactions of individual vets was very good. Some disgusted, some desperate to cling to rhetoric and some just shrug and get on with life. Of course this observation is from a woman who has had little to no experience with military individuals in a close and personal way.

Feb 23, 2009, 4:05pm

I just finished it too - it's wonderful!

I laughed 'til I cried at the Richard III part. Fforde is a genius for thinking of a Shakespearean play - especially Richard III as Rocky Horror Picture Show format? Absolutely hilarious.

And when Hobbes goes into Jane Eyre to kidnap her and turns to see Grace Poole and says "I want Jane Eyre" and she says "So does Mr. Rochester...But he doesn't even kiss her until page one hundred and eighty-one." Oh! So funny!!

These wonderful creative people who think outside the box like Jasper Fforde and Cornelia Funke, bringing books to RL and RL into books. I love the concept - like the Japanese tourists!

I'll never read Jane Eyre again without picturing Thursday crouching below the window calling out Jane's name.

Feb 23, 2009, 4:17pm

#20 - That is something I've been meaning to do, read Jane Eyre again since I've read this. I believe it would have a whole different mood for me. :)

Feb 23, 2009, 4:23pm

Yes, Richard III as an audience participation thing! Bwaa haa haa. I loved that part. I just put the second book in the series on hold at my library. I'll read something in between, just so I don't overdose.


Did anyone else love seeing Rochester call St. John Rivers a 'gutless pantaloon?' *giggle*

Feb 23, 2009, 5:03pm

#22 I forgot about the Richard III as Rocky Horror thing. lol

Feb 23, 2009, 5:04pm

I read the first three Next books. Didn't care much for #3, but I hear #4 is pretty good. I own it, haven't got around to it.

Feb 23, 2009, 8:09pm

I once saw a really bizarre performance of Richard III -- the director referred to his concept as "Edwardian Gothic," and it was all very reminiscent of Edward Gorey. I loved it! That's what came to mind, for me, at the Richard III part.

Feb 23, 2009, 8:34pm

Does anyone remember the version of Richard III that Richard Dreyfus was acting in during the film The Good-Bye Girl?

Feb 24, 2009, 10:50am

Well, I finished it.

I had the feeling some of the humor went over my head, and some of the allegory didn't quite fit. That could be cultural. I'm not much of a fad follower, so the Rocky Horror Picture reference just clean missed.

The biggest laugh I had over this story, perhaps, was the thought that arose, post facto - WHAT would Charlotte Bronte have thought about the completely lame duck ending for Jane Eyre she was theoretically supposed to have written - until 'corrected' by the meddling efforts of Fforde's character to 'fix' the story?

(Jane whimpering into obscurity, unmarried in INDIA, for gosh sake??? What would have happened to all that unrequited plucky female heroine spirit? The author would have to be brain dead to their own character. Jane in India would have become Something Else, I do suspect, and it would not have been meek.)

That bit had me rolling. Then I wondered how a living Charlotte would have responded to a reading of Fforde's work...a spark for a story, there, to bend the imagination in interesting directions, I suspect.

Feb 25, 2009, 12:09pm

Read it.

I have a bit of a dislike for the parallel worlds-concept, but with parallel words it seems OK, now. But it didn't start to roll until about halfway into the story.

Sometimes I do think the funny bits hides the parts relevant to our own world. I for one don't draw a parallel between music and literature, here, but between zealous sectarianism and literature.

I loved how it played with the James Bond/secret agent versus the super-villain trope. Had Hades carried a white Angora cat I'd laughed out loud. As it was I thought the story funny but not hilariously so.

I was a wee bit disappointed by the 'happy' ending. It felt false to the 'successful detective/unsuccessful private life' trope ;-)

Feb 25, 2009, 12:19pm

Ah, Busifer, there are sequels. Trust me, "happy" doesn't endure. Also, I think Fforde is not unaware of the parallel to zealous sectarianism--I would argue that that IS his main target of satire in his elaboration of the society, along with corporate greed.

Feb 25, 2009, 12:24pm

I think so too, and I understood happiness would not endure. But true to the trope happiness should even never be there in the first place.

And. I think you just posted a spoiler. Don't like that. I don't even read the back covers... A spoiler warning should had been appreciated. Or a more ambiguous wording.

Feb 25, 2009, 12:26pm

This is the Spoiler thread. If you mean a spoiler for the sequel, I don't think my comment qualifies. If happy endured, there would be no story and thus no sequel.

Feb 25, 2009, 12:50pm

It's the SPOILER thread, but not to the whole series. In other instances we have started separate threads for sequels or series, for those who want to discuss those.
A matter of form.

Anyway, I think the parallel to sectarianism is VERY conscious. I just think it's well hidden behind the laughter, so most people may well not reflect on it at all, only seeing the obvious cover story.
Of course this is part of Fforde's success - different people see different things, and here people of different convictions can laugh together but at different things.

Edited: Feb 25, 2009, 1:02pm

Not to worry. With the first sequel that particular spoiler is pretty much unavoidable. In fact it popped up next to the book title when I clicked on the book to put it on hold at my library. LOL

Feb 25, 2009, 1:02pm

I thought the "happy" ending was a shoutout to Jane Eyre.

Busifer is right, there's lots of levels here, but I don't think of these books as serious social or political commentary. Poking gentle fun is more like it.

Feb 25, 2009, 1:43pm

Well, I think at least the one that I've read is both, but that's a matter of perspective or interest.

And yeah, I thought the 'happy ending' was a nod to Jane Eyre too, but still...
Comes with mixing a lot of tropes ;-)

Feb 25, 2009, 2:17pm

But the whole point of these novels is mixing tropes.

Feb 25, 2009, 2:28pm

Yes, but that's not to stop me from commenting the difficulties that it brings :D

Feb 25, 2009, 2:33pm

I enjoyed it. I really liked the Jane Eyre ending presented by Thursday before the changes that made it what it is today. I thought the changes being what made it the book we know was a clever twist. I enjoyed Hades as a character, the way he had powers they couldn't explain or understand. i was a little bit disappointed that his powers weren't explained before he left the story though. I would have liked to know why he could do things the others couldn't. Although, I guess he wasn't killed, just misplaced, so he could feasibly return in a later book, where his abilities might be justified in some fashion. I found Thursday herself very likable and, within her world, very believable. She stayed within what I deemed her character throughout. Well, except the sudden marriage, but that did follow Jane's sudden marriage, so even out-of-character, it was believable in-story. i LOVED the Richard III bit.

I babble, maybe i should stop for now :)

Feb 25, 2009, 2:37pm

#37 Bring it on, sister!

Edited: Feb 25, 2009, 2:39pm

Wait, wasn't Hades killed finally - with the silver bullet? Schitt was misplaced (another wonderful name) in the book, but I'm pretty sure Hades was killed - wasn't he? Did I miss something?

eta No!! sevedra you don't babble - just joining in the discussion - it's great :-)

Feb 25, 2009, 2:41pm

And I agree too that I wish Hades powers had been explained better.

Feb 25, 2009, 2:42pm

#40 > you are RIGHT. It was Schitt lost in a book. *sigh* Teach me to finish a week before I get around to joining the discussion.

Feb 25, 2009, 2:43pm

Of course, since it was Schitt misplaced and Hades is dead... there is unlikely to ever be an explanation of his abilities and their origin or extent. So, a big disappointment spot for me.

Feb 25, 2009, 2:47pm

BUT it was pretty clear at the end that Schitt was just as arch-villainous as Hades, so I guess he will find a way out.

I hope that Spike character will have some reason for being in the sequels - now his only reason for being was to be able to give Thursday the silver bullet.

Feb 25, 2009, 2:56pm

*biting her tongue so as not to reveal spoilage*

You people should keep reading more books in the series.

Feb 25, 2009, 3:00pm

I admire your self control littlegeek :-) I plan on getting more in the series very soon!

Feb 25, 2009, 3:07pm

I loved Spike. I thought, that aside from the silver bullet, Mr. Fforde was having a rollicking good time writing his bit.

I'm not sure I get everything Busifer is talking about in #32, but this author seems much like Pratchett to me in his way of observing and commenting on our foibles without harping upon them. Any sort of large organization will have foibles/weaknesses/faults which commentators and or comedians can poke fun at. It's a good time for self-examination, which is why I love Pratchett. He's really very unbiased about whose foibles he exposes. I haven't read enough of Fforde to know whether or not he is the same.

Feb 25, 2009, 3:17pm

I was under the impression that one of Hades parents or grandparents was a demon. That was where he got his powers.

Feb 25, 2009, 3:21pm

#48 where did you get this impression? I can't remember anything about that in the book... But i could have missed something or forgotten. My brain is so full of economics I can hardly recall my name, let alone details about a book I read a week ago.

Feb 25, 2009, 3:33pm

#47 - I agree. And I plan to read more from Fforde, to find out.

Feb 25, 2009, 3:34pm

#48/49 - I too got that impression. At some point this was hinted at rather overtly, but my memory is vague on where. Last half, anyway.

Feb 25, 2009, 3:50pm

I think just the name Hades would give that impression. (This is not a spoiler.)

Edited: Feb 25, 2009, 3:55pm

Yeah, but it's also more openly hinted at... if I only could remember where.

Feb 25, 2009, 3:58pm

I'm having a really hard time joining in since there's sooo much more in the rest of the series! Trust me, you want to keep reading...8^}

Feb 25, 2009, 4:07pm

I think it was in one of Hades inner musings, along with finding out bout why his current partner's name ends in a number.

Feb 26, 2009, 4:34am

Nope, pretty sure there's no demon. Or explanation even anywhere else in the series. But the rest of the family do get a look in. Hades isn't completely gone however, but I won't say where, when or how he comes back, only for a bit-part.

I like the way the ending "explains" what is otherwise a very very contrived piece of unexplained melodrama in the orginal - one of it's many failings. Other than Thursday's whisperings what is the source for that 'Jane, Jane' that she hears ?

I find Fforde's parody more obvious and less prevalent than pratchett's. Goliath and multinational corporations is pretty much his only target. A worthy target, but quite blatent. Some of the later ones pick on religion a bit too, but never quite as blatently.

Be reassured Spike continues to be around in Thursday's world.

Feb 26, 2009, 4:44am

How could I have missed this? An Eyre Affair reading group! I've been a big fan of fforde's books for a long time and have even managed to catch him a couple of times giving talks to promote new books, he's as funny in real life!

Are you now continuing through the series and onto the next book in this group?
Don't forget, once you've exhausted the thursday next series you have his nursery crimes books next the big over easy and the fourth bear :)

Feb 26, 2009, 9:09am

56> Now I have to find that passage and see what it actually says and find out why I am sure it said he was part demon. I'll try to find it tonight.

Feb 26, 2009, 7:08pm

>#58: It's been a while since i read it, but i had that impression too. Hades' superhuman capabilities were bugging me throughout the book, so i was looking for some sort of explanation. At best it was a passing reference/hint/allusion, though. Certainly no explanation.

Feb 27, 2009, 12:15pm

ronincats reminded me that one of my very favorite characters in these books is/are the dodos! I love the noise they make and the looks they give, just everything.

Feb 27, 2009, 12:17pm

(running after you) I have to agree. The whole concept of some years past the fad being to resurrect extinct species from DNA is funny, and then Pickwick the character is a hoot as well, and one of Thursday's closest relationships, actually.

Feb 27, 2009, 12:19pm

Such a nice change from the typical cat or dog. :)

Feb 27, 2009, 1:09pm

I want one. :o/

*wanders off to google for piccies*

Oh. They really aren't that cute. Maybe I want a genetically altered cute one. :oD

Feb 27, 2009, 1:15pm

Are you kidding me clamy? You don't call this cute?

Feb 27, 2009, 1:51pm

plock, plock!!!

Feb 27, 2009, 2:08pm

Well, they are a bit bigger than I was expecting!

Feb 27, 2009, 8:52pm

fforde has such a great sense of humor and timing with his writing. The Jane series is awesome, but I wish he'd write a new Nursery Crimes book too.

Feb 27, 2009, 8:56pm

However, his new book Shades of Grey, due out July 22, is a fantasy set in neither of those locales--a completely new setting, world, characters. A disappointment, but hopefully just as well done.

Feb 28, 2009, 8:36am

Feb 28, 2009, 8:59am

The W. C. Fields of Bird-dom.

Edited: Feb 28, 2009, 12:30pm

LOL!! O! that's good MerryMary, I was trying to think of who/what that dodo reminded me of and you hit it right on the nail! Just perfect *giggle*. Thanks Morphy, great picture :-D

Feb 28, 2009, 3:41pm

Found it! or at least one of them.

"To Hades, the loss of every Felix brought back the sadness of the first Felix's death. On that occasion it had been a terrible blow, not only the loss of a trusted friend and colleague in crime, but also the terrible realization that the alien emotions of loss he had felt betrayed his half-human ancestry, somthing he abhorred. It was little wonder that he and the first Felix had got on so well. Like Hades, Felix was truly debased and amoral. Sadly for Felix, he did not share any of Hades more demonic attributes and had stopped a bullet in the stomach the day that he and Hades attempted to rob the Goliath Bank in Hartlepool in 1975."

It DOES say he's half human, and it implies he's half demon, though doesn't explicitly state it. So how do you all read that?

Feb 28, 2009, 8:22pm

Well, I didn't catch that when I read that part of the book. i must read too fast. I am going to have to slow down.

I agree. It certainly says half-human and strongly implies demon as the other half. Thank you for finding this and clearing the confusion up for the rest of us.

Mar 1, 2009, 12:38am

Ahh, thanks readafew! That is very helpful. I remember reading that now, but I guess it just didn't register at the time or I didn't take it as literally as I should have. I agree, it definitely says he's half human and I'm take it to say that's he's half demon as well.

Mar 1, 2009, 12:57am

He could be half-god.

Mar 1, 2009, 8:35am

Isn't that to be a half-demon, anyway? ;-)

Mar 2, 2009, 4:31am

I must have read Eyre affair half a dozen times and never managed to retain that. Well found.

The dodo's certainly don't give the impression of being quite that big in the books!

Mar 2, 2009, 7:30am

Anyone catch the reference to Felix# being based on Duncan Idaho in God Emperor of Dune? I cracked up.

Mar 2, 2009, 6:36pm

Just finished the book and I really did enjoy it. I too loved the Richard III meets Rocky Horror bit -- how clever!

It was a bit disconcerting to read this after having read another novel later in the series (I stumbled upon The Well of Lost Plots in a mystery book store earlier this year. I kept getting some of the bureaucracy mixed up in my head.

I do highly recommend Well of Lost Plots though, for those who enjoyed this one. It takes things to an entirely different level in terms of how the characters interact with books. I don't think it's the next book in the series though, probably #3 at the earliest.

Mar 2, 2009, 7:37pm

I finished it yesterday and loved it. I'm with everyone else in loving the Richard III/Rocky Horror parts, (makes me wonder how long it will be before someone tries to get something like that started).

I would really have liked for Thursday's dad to have been in the book more, I really liked his character.

Mar 2, 2009, 7:37pm

77 > it was in that little piece of text before you start the chapter in Chapter 22. It's easily glossed over...

Mar 3, 2009, 4:42pm

79>Well of Lost Plots is actually my favorite of the Thursday Next books.

80>**mild spoiler**

If you liked her dad, keep reading the rest of the books!

Mar 3, 2009, 7:41pm

I got #2 from the library, but I have to finish the mini-read Star Trek book first before I allow myself to dive it...
*rubs hand greedily*

Mar 4, 2009, 2:17pm

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I loved it! Today I'm off to the library to get the sequel.

Mar 4, 2009, 2:27pm

#84 - Tigercane, on behalf of all of us, "You're welcome!" :oD

Apr 14, 2009, 9:33am

Over in Crimne and Mystery someone's asking who else to read that writes like fforde does - Especially the clever word play.

Anyone think of other suitable authors?

Rankin, Holt, Pratchett (which would have been my guess) and Willis have all be mentioned so far.

Apr 14, 2009, 11:00am

Piers Anthony packs more awful puns into one sentence that I'd believe possible. Unfortunately one feels a certain sameness when I read more than one Xanth book nose-to-tail. The Mode series, however, are good and leave me wanting more.

Apr 14, 2009, 11:53am

Dorothy L. Sayers and Rex Stout both write clever and humorous stories with some refined word play. Nothing as blatant as Fforde and Pratchett, they are classic mystery authors.

Apr 14, 2009, 1:30pm

Finished reading it last it solely because of LT chatter about it. Got about a third of the way thru when I realized I'd read it before (!) It must have been a long time ago, I didn't remember most of it, so I went ahead and finished it. I'll need to get the sequels now.

Apr 14, 2009, 5:00pm

I just finished Lost in a Good Book. It is as good as the first!

May 12, 2010, 12:44pm

Wow. Over a year late, but I'd forgotten about this group read until I went searching for the Wrinkle in Time thread. I actually read The Eyre Affair several weeks ago and had a lot of fun.

I love the idea of a world where literature is the bee's knees, gangs have developed to support their lit theory of choice and you have to watch out for black market knock offs purporting to be the lost original works of some great author. And wasn't there some kind of protest about the Renaissance? Can't quite remember.
Don't know if I'd like to live there though.

I loved that everyone knows Richard III so well that the actors are chosen from each night's audience and I loved the audience participation.

I loved the behind-the-scenes glimpses into Jane Eyre, the book. Made me think of The Truman Show.

Thursday's happy ending seemed forced to me as well but littlegeek's and sevedra's thoughts that it is to go along with Jane's happy ending helps me to accept it more. Still not happy with it though.

I've been meaning to read the next book, (Lost in a Good Book?) and this thread has reminded me why.

May 12, 2010, 4:32pm

Here's a question that occurred to me: we're all familiar (right?) with the key concept of the madwoman in the attic, who literally is Rochester's wife but metaphorically is something internal that Jane must overcome (her disapproval of his life?). Is Hades the madman in Thursday's attic?

Edited: May 12, 2010, 7:53pm

Action figures from Thursday's world?

eta: changed punctuation

May 12, 2010, 7:42pm

sandragon - At first I was disappointed, because, I really would like action figures from Thursday's world, especially some Grammasites. But then, I loved it!

Jim - I suppose that makes sense, but I don't read books on the metaphoric level very much; interesting thought.

May 13, 2010, 8:25am

#93 - Oh. My. Gawd.
I loved that, sandragon.
Will have to spam my little corner of the web with that!