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Lost in a Good Book (2002)

by Jasper Fforde

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Thursday Next (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,089234790 (4.07)494
Thursday Next, literary detective and newlywed, is back to embark on an adventure that begins, quite literally on her own doorstep. It seems that Landen, her husband of four weeks, actually drowned in an accident when he was two years old. Someone, somewhere, sometime, is responsible. The sinister Goliath Corporation wants its operative Jack Schitt out of the poem in which Thursday trapped him, and it will do almost anything to achieve this - but bribing the ChronoGuard? Is that possible? Having barely caught her breath after The Eyre Affair, Thursday must battle corrupt politicians, try to save the world from extinction, and help the Neanderthals to species self-determination. Mastadon migrations, journeys into Just William, a chance meeting with the Flopsy Bunnies, and violent life-and-death struggles in the summer sales are all part of a greater plan. But whose? and why?… (more)
Recently added byErina55, Beltannon, kristisan, rbennett15, Viralbyte, private library, LibraryNerdLou
  1. 10
    Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (changsbooks)
    changsbooks: If you loved the Wayside School series as a kid, it's time to graduate to Jasper Fforde's own brand of absurdism.
  2. 00
    The Rook by Daniel O'Malley (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Same kind of quirky humour and style
  3. 11
    Fables, Vol. 01: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (TomWaitsTables)
  4. 00
    Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines (TomWaitsTables)
  5. 00
    Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin (carlym)
  6. 01
    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Also featuring Miss Havisham.
  7. 02
    Who's Afraid of Beowulf? by Tom Holt (Dr.Science)
    Dr.Science: The English author Tom Holt is relatively unknown in America, but very popular in England. If you enjoy Jasper Fforde or Christopher Moore you will most certainly enjoy Tom Holt's wry sense of English humor and the absurd. He has written a number of excellent books including Expecting Someone Taller, and Flying Dutch, but they may be difficult to find at your library or bookstore.… (more)
  8. 05
    Franklyn [2008 film] by Gerald McMorrow (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For washing and washing machine directions.

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» See also 494 mentions

English (225)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (234)
Showing 1-5 of 225 (next | show all)
Did. Not. Finish.

The first chapter of this book, the first 18 pages, were absolutely dreadful; there was zero reason to read further. Glancing forward to pages and passages at random, just to give it a second, third, and forth chance... it was more of the same.

I did not "get it." And as much as I hate to say it, it used to be that picking up ANY Penguin book was worthwhile. This horrendous book in my opinion is a major black eye in the name of Penguin publishing. ( )
  Picathartes | Oct 28, 2022 |
ok...now I'm hooked...very good and love the characters.
  DarrinLett | Aug 14, 2022 |
review of
Jasper Fforde's Lost in a Good Book
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - August 7, 2017

You know me (well, actually, you probably don't), my review is "too long" so you have to read the full thing HERE: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/579876-mr-mrs-friday-next

I started off my February 27, 2017 review of Jay Russell's Brown Harvest ( "Diarrhea Harvest: Wet Fart": https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/527150-diarrhea-harvest?chapter=0 ) by writing:

"Having already reviewed Bruce Hale's The Malted Falcon (2003) ( http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3457691-the-malted-falcon ) & Anne Capeci's The Maltese Dog (1998) ( http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5078613-the-maltese-dog ) wch are both knock-offs of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon (1929) & Roy V. Young's Captains Outrageous Or, For Doom the Bell Tolls (1994) ( http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/416565.Captains_Outrageous ) w/ its at least titular references to both Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous & Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls I reckon I'm working toward becoming a minor 'expert' on this genre of derivative intertextual bks.

"Of the related bks in this genre (of sorts) in my personal collection I still have Ben H. Winters's Android Karenina (2010) & Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) (there's even a 2016 movie from this one!) & Regina Jeffers's Captain Wentworth's Persuasion to go.. AND the "Nancy Clue and the Hardly Boys in A Ghost in the Closet (1995) by Mabel Maney.. but I'm not in any hurry to read any of them. It's hard to believe that such bks have been around for at least 23 yrs now."

Jasper Fforde's Lost in a Good Book has enlivened this genre considerably by not being quite in it but still relying on & playing off of pre-existing literature. Fforde manages to up the ante considerably, though, & to make this a much more fun read by justifying the references by having a detective who actually somehow goes into the bks where the characters live & by having this cross-over between the fiction of the novel (posing as the 'real world') & the pre-existing fictions be all a part of a meta-narrative. I'm vaguely reminded of George Perec's utterly marvelous A Void - not because of any Oulipian formal similarities but because in the Perec the missing object is missing from the text describing the search for it.

""And this is Mr. Chesterman of the Bronte Federation."

"Chesterman blinked at me uncertainly. The changes I had wrought upon Jane Eyre had split the federation. I hoped he was one of the ones who preferred the happier ending." - pp 8-9

That bit just quoted refers to Fforde's previous novel in wch the bk detective protagonist (an ongoing character from bk to bk) had gone into Jane Eyre & changed the plot in the process of ferreting out a criminal there. One of Fforde's contributions to this rewritten bk genre is his integrating the rewriting into the storyline rather than using a rewriting as a new plot basis. To accomplish this, storywise, he introduces a "Prose Portal" for entering into bks:

"["]How did you actually get into the book of Jane Eyre in the first place?"

""That's easily explained," I began. "You see, my uncle Mycroft invented a device called a Prose Portal—"" - p 15

The 1st page visible when one opens the bk has pithy reviews of it. The 1st one, from the prestigious New York Times Book Review starts off w/:

""{A]n analogue of Harry Potter just for adults . . . effortlessly readable and unashamedly escapist"

I haven't read any Harry Potter bks & have no intention of doing so but I have seen most of the movies & I find the comparison to be stretching things. It seems to me that the reviewer is promoting the bk by associating it w/ a best-seller in hopes that it'll sell well.

On p v there's a "Goliath Book Rating" that only makes sense once one started reading the bk - since Goliath is the corporate villain. This rating has the following data:

"Content: Fiction/Thriller/Surreal/Comedic
Violence: Only on people who deserve it
Swearing: Occasional, mild
Nudity or sexual content: Implied only
Made-up words: 44
Page turnability: 7.26 GBI (adjusted)"

I found this amusing & liked that the author went to this level of detail. Of course, I'm just assuming that it was the author's idea, it might've been the idea of someone working for the publisher, eg. Fforde's good for detail: he uses the word "Docuganda" (p 1), eg, wch may be a neologism he coined. I've never seen it before at any rate & I find it potentially useful. There're plenty of propaganda documentaries out there - even ones that I agree w/ but still have some reservations about b/c of obviously manipulative techniques like the use of 'bad-guy music' at times when the (v)audience is expected to get upset.

At the same time that I read this I've been reading a great bk called They Have a Word for It. When I read this next part in Lost in a Good Book I thought of a word I'd just learned in the former bk. The 1st speaker is a PR person accustomed to constant schmoozing:

""Yes; I wish you and Landen both the best. Love what you've done with your hair!"

""My hair? I haven't done anything with my hair!"

""Exactly!" replied Flakk quickly. "It's so incredibly you. What do you think of the outfit?"

""One's attention is drawn straight to it," I replied ambiguously." - pp 3-4

Fforde's ability to have dialog be more than what meets the eye is a form of realism that endears itself to me. The PR schmoozer's 'compliment' is immediately exposed as a schmoozer's shot-in-the-dark & the protagonist's response to the PR person's fishing for a compliment is what they call in the Zande language in New Guinea a "sanza", a disguised insult. Fforde does love language play & even the obviousness of some of his puns doesn't really make me groan.. but, then, I'm a homonymphonemiac.

"Schitt-Hawse was a tall, thin man whose pinched features seemed to compete for position in the center of his face. His head tilted to the left in a manner that reminded me of an inquisitive budgerigar," [mighty good eating!] "and his dark hair was fastidiously combed back from his forehead. he put out his hand.

""Would it upset you if I didn't shake it?" I asked him.

""Well, yes," he replied, trying to be affable.


"The Goliath Corporation's pernicious hold over the nation was not universally appreciated, and I had a far greater reason to dislike them—the last Goliath employee I had dealt with was an odious character by the name of Jack Schitt." - p 8

Yep, Fforde loves language play, as do I:

"He stopped as two other LiteraTec agents walked close by, discussing the merits of a recently discovered seventy-eight-word palindrome that made sense." - p 30

One of the duties of a LiteraRec agent is to expose forgeries of bks, a potentially very lucrative business:

""Such authentication is notoriously difficult. I may have to seek a second opinion!"

""You are more than welcome to do that, ma'am," I replied slowly, "but they will say the same as I. It's not just the text. You see, Shakespeare never wrote on lined paper with a ballpoint, and even if he did, I doubt he would have had Cardenio seeking Lucinda in the Sierra Morena mountains driving an open-top Range Rover whilst playing 'It's the Same Old Song' by the Four Tops."" - p 36

Fforde has a fantastic sense of humor - as evidenced by both the above & the below:

""In years gone by the family were prodigious hunters," explained Volescamper. "But look here, I don't carry on that way myself. Father was heavily into killing and stuffing things. When he died he insisted on being stuffed himself. That's him over there."" - p 40

"["]What's the opposite of déjà vu, when you see something that hasn't happened yet?"

""I don't know—avant verrais?"

""That's it. Something's going to happen—and I'm part of it."" - p 47

The above passage sparked a discussion on Wordsmith Talk. The 1st poster quoted the passage & sd:

"Does this have any basis in anything?

"(besides, everyone knows that jamais vu is the opposite of déjà vu! : )"

That spawned a reply:

"does this have any basis in anything? - Who knows.. - but not in French.

"jamais vu is the opposite of déjà vu! - In this sense, I'd rather suggest "pas encore vu" (not yet seen).

"when you see something that hasn't happened yet - if it happens really afterwards, I'd call it a premonition."

Google Translate turns déjà vu into "already seen" & avant verrais into "before seeing". Of course, the term déjà vu is used to mean the uncanny feeling that one has already been in the situation that they're in now. What one considers to be the 'opposite' of that depends upon how one interprets "opposite": Google Translate renders jamais vu in English as "never seen". That cd be considered correct in the sense that it's the opposite feeling from déjà vu, the ordinary feeling that one is in a situation for the 1st time & is not somehow uncannily experiencing it again w/o such a repetition being possible in any ordinary time sense. I agree w/ the 2nd commentator that prémonition is both more accurate than avant verrais AND what was intended in the context of the story - however, I suspect that the author had fun throwing that unusual terminology in there.

The alternate world in wch the novel takes place has various common revivifications:

"The neanderthal experiment was conceived in order to create the euphemistically entitled "medical test vessels," living creatures that were as close as possible to humans without actually being human within the context of the law. Using cells reengineered from DNA discovered in a Homo Llsternef forearm preserved in a peat bog near Llysternef in Wales, the experiment was an unparalleled success. Sadly for Goliath, even the hardiest of medical technicians balked at experiments conducted upon intelligent and speaking entities, so the first batch of neanderthals were trained instead as "expendable combat units," a project that was shelved as soon as the lack of aggressive instincts in the neanderthal was noted. They were subsequently released into the community as cheap labor and became a celebrated tax write-off." - p 48

""Three down," exclaimed a squat woman who was staring at a folded-up newspaper, half to herself and half to the rest of us. "Well decorated for prying, perhaps? Ten letters."" - p 49

This was mysterious to me when I read it. It shd've been glaringly obvious.

""No, no. Ten letters, three down. Well decorated for prying. Meddlesome."

"Very good," muttered the lady as she scribbled in the answer." - p 50

Ha ha! A crossword w/ a pun for an answer that simultaneously serves the plot as a warning/coincidence. Nice.

Thursday Next is the name of our hero. That, in itself, is pleasing to me. Her father:

"I regarded my father as a sort of time-traveling knight errant, but to the ChronoGuard he was nothing less than a criminal. He threw in his badge and went rogue seventeen years ago when his "historical and moral" differences brought him into conflict with the ChronoGuard High Chamber. The downside of this was that he didn't really exist at all in any accepted terms of the definition; the ChronoGuard had interrupted his conception in 1917 by a well-timed knock on his parents' front door. But despite all this Dad was still around and I and my brothers had been born. "Things," Dad used to say, "are a whole lot weirder than we can know."" - p 59

Tell me about it. How many of you have seen the movie Anonymous (2011) by Roland Emmerich claiming that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, actually wrote Shakespeare's plays anonymously? Raise yr hand if you have. Now raise yr other hand! Gimme that laptop! I thought Fforde might've seen it but the bk was published 9 yrs before the movie so nix that theory.

""We found a thirty-third play by Shakespeare."

""Thirty-three?" echoed my father. "That's odd. When I took the entire works back to the actor Shakespeare to distribute there were only eighteen."

""Perhaps the actor Shakespeare started writing them himself?" I suggested." - p 60

Of course, references are fun for those of us who get them & opaque for those of us who don't.

"My mother was bustling around some chicken vol-au-vent. By some bizarre twist of fate the pastry had turned out not at all burned and actually quite tasty—it had thrown her into a bit of a panic. Most of her cooking ended up as the culinary equivalent of the Tunguska event." - p 82

Google translate rendered "vol-au-vent" from the French into English as "vol-au-vent" so apparently there's no English name for it. It's a pastry. "Vol-au-vent", literally translated, means "windblown" to describe the lightness of the pastry.

The "Tunguska event" was a mysterious explosion in Russia in 1908 that flattened 770 square miles of forest but caused no known human casualties. There've been many references to this in literature, esp SF, including in a Jasper Fforde novel called The Woman Who Died a Lot but, according to Wikipedia, the Strugatsky Brothers story that featured it was Monday Begins on Saturday & NOT 'Roadside Picnic" as I was remembering thusly proving that my memory's shot & that it's time to turn me into jello.. But I insist on being a flavor that doesn't already exist & that everyone loves & refuse to go until I'm satisfied w/ the taste. Who are you again?!

The connection between vol-au-vent (windblown) & the Tunguska event (in wch something like 80,000,000 trees are sd to've been knocked down in a more extreme version of windblown) is pretty damned funny there, Fforde old fella. It's no coincidence that Fforde's funny:

""It's farewell and so long, Thursday."

""Are you doing this on purpose?"

""Doing what? Isn't that Major Fairwelle and your old school chum Sue Long over there?"" - p 101

In fact, Fforde's trying to warn us that punchline's coming to town & we'd better watch out.

""Agent Durrel, SO-13," he announced breathlessly, showing my mother an ID. "Spank the mammoth and you're under arrest."

"My mother's fury switched to the SpecOps agent.

""So he eats my garden and I'm supposed to do nothing?"

""Her name is Buttercup," corrected Durrell. "The rest of the herd went to the west of Swindon as planned, but Buttercup here is a bit of a dreamer. And yes, you do nothing. Mammoths are a protected species."" - p 158

That reminds me of a joke: A mammoth & her friends are taking a walk in the woods & the mammoth needs to take a shit & she says: "I can't take a shit, I don't have any toilet paper" & her friends say: "Just use a dollar" so she goes off & takes a shit & comes back & says: That's no good, I have shit all over my foot & 4 quarters stuck up my ass!" That reminds me of another joke:

""I've just been informed that the reason for the excuse for the delay had been delayed itself. As soon as we find out why the reason for the excuse has been delayed we will tell you—in line with government guidelines. If you are at all unhappy with the speed at which the excuse has been delivered, you might be eligible for a 1% refund. Have a nice drop."" - p 160

I did, thank you.

""You'll be telling me that we'll fly to the moon next." I said.

""We already have," returned my technobore neighbor in a conspiratorial whisper. "Secret government experiments have already constructed a base on the far side of the moon where transmitters control our thoughts and actions from atop the Empire State Building using interstellar communications from extraterrestrial life forms intent on world domination with the express agreement of the Goliath Corporation and a secret cabal of world leaders known as SPORK" & led by Donald Trump. (p 165)

Now you're going too far! &, NO I don't have a copy of every bk ever written!

""You must have a copy of every book that's ever been written," I observed.

""Every book that will ever be written," corrected the Cat, "and a few others besides."

""How many?"

""Well, I've never counted them myself, but certainly more than twelve."

"As the Cat grinned and blinked at me with his large green eyes I suddenly realized where I had seen him before.

""You're the Cheshire Cat, aren't you?" I asked.

""I was the Cheshire Cat," he replied with a slightly aggrieved air. "But they moved the county boundaries, so technically speaking I'm now the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat, but it doesn't have the same ring to it.["]" - pp 178-179

Once Thursday Next gets into the world of bks the opportunities to introduce characters created by other writers is plundered beautifully by Fforde. Maybe Thursday's husband will die & she'll fall in love w/ Friday.

""I don't often take apprentices," she carried on, disregarding me completely, "but they were going to allocate you to the Red Queen. The Red Queen and I don't get along. I suppose you've heard that?"

""No, I've—"

""Half of all she says is nonsense and the other half is irrelevant. Mrs. Nakajima recommended you most highly, but she has been wrong before; cause any trouble and I'll bounce you out of Jurisfiction quicker than you can say ketchup. How are you at tying shoelaces?"" - p 188

So, there you have it. We're totally down the mammoth hole now. As if the Red Queen isn't bad enuf, Thursday Next has to endure a fate I wdn't wish on Furry Mason: The Trial:

""Herr Magistrate," said Snell as we took the last few paces to the dais, "my name is Akrid S., defending Thursday N in Jurisfiction v. The Law, case number 142857."

"The Magistrate looked at me, took out his watch and said:

""You should have been here an hour and five minutes ago."

"There was an excited murmur from the crowd. Snell opened his mouth to say something, but it was I that answered.

""I know," I said, having read a bit of Kafka in my youth and attempting a radical approach to the proceedings, "I am to blame. I beg the court's pardon."" - p 194

If only Cervantes had been so wily!

"Outside the room, Snell tipped his hat and vanished off to represent a client currently languishing in debtor's prison." - p 200

Personally, I'm tired of being in this review. Mammoths & toilet paper, my ass!

""Poor, dear, sweet Jane! I would so hate to be a first-person character! Always on your guard, always on your guard, always having people reading your thoughts! Here we do what we are told but think what we wish. It is a much happier circumstance, believe me!"" - p 280

tENT adjusted his scrotum, it had gotten tucked under him uncomfortably. Listening to the "Ö" CD-Rs that he'd burned he wondered what he cd possibly interject further into this excuse for a review that might be funny & disguise the fact that he'd just jump-cut 80 pp. Then he noticed that ""Ö"" looked like a portrait of a clown before he added the extra 2 quotation marks but that now it looked more like an obese thunderbird. The thunderbird was having a hard time staying aloft but not nearly as bad a time as that Romantic poet:

""Shelley's gone boating," said a voice at the back. "He'll be back in an hour if the weather holds."" - p 290 ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
I liked this one better than the first one, in spite of my general dislike of extortion plots. A large part of my enjoyment probably comes from knowing what was going on from page 1, as opposed to the half-book it took me to figure that out in Jane Eyre. This is an incredibly complicated universe Fforde has created and I can't imagine what the inside of his head must be like.

There's no way I can really adequately talk about this book, there's just too much going on, so I'll just say it's an incredibly fun read. It's funny, it's well-written and it celebrates the written word and language like no other book I've ever read. I love the word play the author uses, both the obvious ones (villains named Schitt-Hawse) and the not so obvious ones (Agents Phodder and Kannon). I laughed loud and long when I read about Mycroft's "retirement".

I'm so happy I found these books when I did; they're the kind you savour, not devour, which means I have a heck of a lot of fun reading ahead of me. Who knows? by the time I finish the ones I have, the next one (or two!) might finally be released. ( )
  murderbydeath | Jan 29, 2022 |
Interesting clever story ( )
  Nefersw | Jan 14, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 225 (next | show all)
In Lost in a Good Book and The Well of Lost Plots, Fforde gets a bit bogged down in all the details of the fictional universe.
added by Katya0133 | editGalef, David, Yale Review (Oct 1, 2008)
There is a certain self-delighted quality to all this cleverness that would probably become annoying if Fforde weren't so resolutely unclever about his own writing. By and large, the story bounds along in one-sentence paragraphs that J. K. Rowling would be proud of.

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fforde, Jasperprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Koen, ViktorIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perez, JosephCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, MaggyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, MariPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sastre, ElizabethNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stern, JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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is dedicated to assistants everywhere.
You make it happen for them.
They couldn't do it without you.
Your contribution is everything.
First words
Sample viewing figures for major TV networks in England, September 1985... I didn't ask to be a celebrity.
I didn't ask to be a celebrity.
I’ve been in law enforcement for most of my life and I will tell you right now there is no such offense as ‘attempted murder by coincidence in an alternative future by person or persons unknown.’
Poor, dear, sweet Jane! I would so hate to be a first-person character! Always on your guard, always having people reading your thoughts! Here we do what we are told but think what we wish. It is a much happier circumstance, believe me! - Marianne Dashwood
Bloophole: Term used to describe a narrative hole by the author that renders his/her work seemingly impossible. An unguarded bloophole may not cause damage for millions of readings, but then, quite suddenly and catastrophically, the book may unravel itself in a very dramatic fashion.
'Things,' Dad used to say, 'are a whole lot weirder than we can know.'
Attention, please. Passengers for the 11:04 DeepDrop to Sydney will be glad to know that the delay was due to too many excuses being created by the Gravitube’s Excuse Manufacturing Facility. Consequently we are happy to announce that since the excess excuses have now been used, the 11:04 DeepDrop to Sydney is ready for boarding at gate six.
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Thursday Next, literary detective and newlywed, is back to embark on an adventure that begins, quite literally on her own doorstep. It seems that Landen, her husband of four weeks, actually drowned in an accident when he was two years old. Someone, somewhere, sometime, is responsible. The sinister Goliath Corporation wants its operative Jack Schitt out of the poem in which Thursday trapped him, and it will do almost anything to achieve this - but bribing the ChronoGuard? Is that possible? Having barely caught her breath after The Eyre Affair, Thursday must battle corrupt politicians, try to save the world from extinction, and help the Neanderthals to species self-determination. Mastadon migrations, journeys into Just William, a chance meeting with the Flopsy Bunnies, and violent life-and-death struggles in the summer sales are all part of a greater plan. But whose? and why?

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