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.