Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Eyre Affair by Jaspe Fforde

Once upon a time, Jasper Fforde put Alice Through the Looking Glass, Jules Verne, a shelf full of Cliff's Notes, and a textbook of 20th century history into a blender, and turned it on. The result was the Eyre Affair (apparently, he couldn't drink the resultant milkshake in one sitting, though, since it's stretched into a number of sequels).

The Eyre Affair, as a horse, has been well beaten on this blog and others. I won't get into the plot too much, largely because it's difficult to summarize, and any summary I write would pale in comparison to some of the other reviewers. And, to be perfectly honest, the reason I have put off writing this review for so long, is because I just really didn't enjoy the book that much.

I know, this is a heresy. I have prayed to Librius, God of Books, and asked him to send his spirit down to enlighten me. I have beaten myself with many stripes. But revelation will not come. I just don't get this book.

This isn't to say I didn't understand it. Honestly, when one gets used to it, the book is a charmingly breezy sort of pseudo-world, so grounded in the things we know that it almost feels homelike. I will give the book that - it's a comforting kind of thing, like cake, it feels like your birthday.

But I didn't 'grok' this book. Much like that birthday cake, it's wonderful in small doses. But when you eat too much, it feels cloying, overly rich, even, a little bit, boring. In part, perhaps I expected too much. I love the Brontes, I love absurd humor, I love mythopoeic writing, and everyone said this book was so good. But it just... felt scattered. And worse, it felt showoffy. Sometimes, I felt like the author was trying to impress me with how strange he could be - which is kind of a turnoff unless you really CAN impress me. It was a clever, hip sort of book, amusing and beguiling, but in the end, I really had very little investment in any of the major characters, and was kind of relieved to get to the last page. Sorry Jasper Fforde. Sorry Amanda.

8 comments:

Serena said...

I have not read this book, but I just received his book, The Well of Lost Plots, from a friend. I hope this review does not reflect all of his writing.

Amanda said...

You really should try to the second book someday, Jase. It holds together far better than the first. I know you liked elements and just didn't like how they were flung around - the second book keeps the under control. It's really good.

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

I like this one more than you did but I understand what you mean.
All the best.

Karenlibrarian said...

It is a little over the top sometimes, but I did enjoy this book. I've read the whole series, some are better than others. The last one was excellent. I think I just love all the literary references and jokes.

Jason Gignac said...

MS Serena - I wouldn't get too worried - like I said, everyone else seems to love it!

Amanda - I'll keep it on my list, though probably not my short list...

Ms Ogilvie - I think it just didn't fit with me well, or something, because so many people whose taste I trust better than mine really do love it.

Ms Karenlibrarian - I really did love some of the little jokes - the Carroll bar was priceless, for instance. I laughed out loud several times. But then I just got sick of it in the in between times.

Rebecca Reid said...

I found it an amusing read but I too didn't find it something that I LOVED and (even more in the retrospect of a few months) I don't think I can handle the thought of picking up a sequel.

Jason Gignac said...

Ms Reid - It would be a better television show than a book. It sort of felt like mindless entertainment, like (ironically) it didn't take advantage of the things books can do that other media CAN'T do, you know? It really was kind of like reading a screenplay.

Rebecca Reid said...

when I read it, that's exactly why I liked it!

But I'm not in the mood for that this month, so sequels don't appeal!