Fforde, Jasper. The Eyre Affair. London: Coronet, 2001. 373pp.
Picture an alternate 1985 where England is still at war with Russia in the Crimea and everyone reads books as if they're the only thing that matters. People even change their names to their favourite author's or literary characters en masse. And even more, there is a way to literally enter these literary worlds from ours and for the characters from those worlds to interact with ours. So, it's possible to enter the world of your favourite novel and change it. If you can actually get to the original manuscript and change that, well, all the other existing copies stemming from that change as well. Cool. As you can imagine, there are certainly people who's job is to prevent that kind of weirdness from happening. such is our protagonist, Thursday Next. This novel is the story of her protecting various literary worlds from her arch nemesis, Acheron Hades. Weird names, too. There's a character named Jack Schitt, too. Not a nice fellow.
Anyways, this novel and it's sequels have got quite a bit of hype over the last couple of years so I figured I give the first a spin. The verdict? Cool, yes. Compelling? Not really. A short story idea stretched to novel length, I was never really drawn into the story so much as I was observing it from a coolly ironic distance. Not surprisingly, it took me about a month to wade through it. I've heard the sequels get the cool/compelling mix a bit better, so I'll probably eventually give another a go.