Having just written my short entry for Three things to read, watch, and use I can’t stop thinking sharing more of my favorites with the world. This is precisely what I intend to do more. Today it’s another reading recommendation – I’ll do my best to keep it spoiler-free.
What you see above is a part of the Thursday Next Series by British author Jasper Fforde. He’s a movie guy who - praise the lord - found his way into the world of books. He wrote a couple of short stories until his first novel was published in 2001: “The Eyre Affair”. The novel is part of the Thursday Next Series which currently spans over 7 books (with the next part already in the making).
The series is set in an rather odd alternative world. For instance there is a Special Operations Network [SpecOps] which deals with all kind of crimes. The heroine of this series, Thursday Next, works in the SpecOps-27 department, which makes her a Literary Detective. Here’s a citation from the official SpecOps website so you can get of feel of what Thursday is dealing with:
Feel your new original copy of Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ is a bit weak in alliteration? It could be a bootleg copy. Contact us for all literary problems. Beware of forged Jonsonia and take heed when purchasing ‘original’ manuscripts. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Shakespeareana is now looked after by its own division, SO-29.
Sounds pretty cool, hey? Well, it is. And it gets even better since Japser is a man with a limitless fantasy. One alternative reality isn’t enough. There’s another one: Bookworld.
I just promised a few stanzas above that I won’t put any teasers in here, but this is sort of the one that is supposed to get you hooked on the series. Thursday will travel through the world of books. You might don’t know it yet, but the characters inside those white pages with all the letters on are alive. If you’re the right kind of person you can talk and interact with them, you just have to know how to book your ticket to Bookworld… and Thursday knows… which leads to a whole lot of fun.
I read the first three books in 8 days while I was on vacation in Kenia. I was sick and couldn’t do anything despite of lying on my canvas chair. What can I say, Thursday made the whole affair (not only the Eyre, also mine) a lot easier for me. I was feeling shitty. My back ached because I somehow sat wrong for the whole flight and only got better after 7 days, I got diarrhea on the second day and after fourth day a major depression accompanied me for the rest of the vacation since I’m not good at dealing with poverty when witnessing it first hand. All the tourists acting all touristy-like and the Kenyans who shadowed them, trying to sell them stuff every minute was too much for me. It would have been a completely other story if it wasn’t the classic holiday package with one week in an all-inclusive hotel and the other week with a Safari. I wouldn’t have booked it that way, but I jumped in for a friend of my mom who canceled last minute and she didn’t want fly to Africa alone. But enough whining… Africa was more than picturesque and the few insights into the real culture aloof of tourist paths where very nice and interesting… as was Thursday Next….
The one thing I regret was borrowing part four to my diving instructor because I didn’t think that I was able to plow through those pages as I did. Then the detoxification kicked in. I finished the third book and wanted to know what’s next on the menu. Luckily the hotel had a small bookshelf and I found two books that I hadn’t read before (The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith and a another novel which I can’t remember the name of right now). Luckily my diving instructor was a quick reader, too, and she returned the fourth book before I left for the Safari.
All-in-all, I can recommend putting a few Jasper Fforde books in your luggage when traveling to another continent. You might not experience any of the afflictions I had, but you will have a splendid time if there’s a moment where you have nothing to do. You can tune out and discover a whole new world. That’s the magic of books. I was able to witness a beautiful world when looking at the pages in front of me and a dreadfully beautiful world when looking up.
This series is for book nerds and people who just like to read, not just for the fantasy nuts. It has a good dose of sci-fi and a lovely nostalgic charm at the same time. If you have a solid basis and have read Shakespeare, the Brontë Sisters, Dickens and alike you will enjoy it even more since you can take a look behind the scenes and rediscover your favorite heroes and heroines in a new light. Lastly, for the conspiracy theorists there’s an huge global corporation which is called Goliath… I can’t go into the details but I can promise you will see Goliath everywhere.
Enjoy your read.