The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – Book Review

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Published by Penguin
First book in the
Thursday Next series

It is 1985 and in this alternate Britain, literature is king. People go door to door to proselytize about the writer they thing truly wrote Shakespeare’s plays, for example. Other things are different too, the Crimean War has been on for over 100 years, and the Special Operations Network investigates everything from literary crime to temporal mishaps. Thursday Next is a highly regarded LitraTec agent, but even her expertise is challenged when evil genius mastermind Hades gains the ability to go into famous works of literature and change them, going so far as to kidnap Jane Eyre out of her eponymous book.

Imagine, if you will, that 1984 and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy got married and had a lit nerd baby. That baby would be The Eyre Affair. Honestly, I’m not really sure what you need to know more than that. Although Fforde’s Britain isn’t quite so dystopian as 1984, it definitely appears to owe elements to Orwell’s masterpiece. The The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comparisons come in to with the strands of whimsy and, well, oddness, running through Thursday’s world. Fforde takes particular joy in naming places and characters, using both literary in-jokes and pretty much anything that he finds funny. I was less than enthused about some of the non-literary joke-names, but overall it is very clever and fun.

Jasper Fforde sold me almost immediately on his alternate, literature-loving, slightly dytopian Britain. This was a very fun, smart book, and I can’t wait to continue the series.

I read “The Eyre Affair” in preparation for the most recent episode of our podcast, What’s Old is New, this one on “Jane Eyre.”

Buy this book from:
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Source: Personal copy.
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22 comments to The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – Book Review

  • Agreed on both the world being an easy one to accept and the name thing – that one character’s name made me roll my eyes every time I read it, but otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed this one :)

  • Glad you liked it. I also read and liked, very clever. My review at

  • I love this series. I’ve only read two but must continue it someday.

  • I love this series. It does share a lot of similarities with Hitchhiker, though I never thought of that. I recently read Fforde’s new one, Shades of Grey, which is the first in a separate series and it was wonderful too!

  • I really liked Eyre Affair, though I felt like there were a lot of concepts to absorb in one book between the time travel, the war going on, book jumping, etc. The second one was even better for me because I was more familiar with the world. I need to pick up the third one soon. I hear the series just gets better.
    Nice review!

  • I haven’t heard of this series until just now :) Sounds really clever and interesting!

  • Abigail

    I absolutely love Jasper Fforde- he is a fantastic author. I’ve read several of this series, as well as some of the Nursery Crime series and a few standalones. This series is definatly my favourite so far.

  • I read one Fforde book several years ago and it didn’t do for me what it did for the friend who loaned it to me. Not sure this is for me.

  • This is absolutely the most clever and witty series ever written. The stories are simple, but the setting is so complex and multi-layered. It’s almost not possible to describe. I hope you keep up with this series. The newest book (the 6th!), entitled “One of Our Thursdays is Missing” comes out in the US next month.

    If you like Jasper Fforde, he’s got another series with two books in it so far. Jack Spratt is an investigator in the Nursery Crimes division. The first is called “The Big Over Easy” and is about the death of Humpty Dumpty – was it murder or suicide? And why is the Gingerbread Man involved?

    A seriously talented and creative writer – I cannot sing his praises enough. Please sample more of his work!

  • I’m a big Fforde fan, his books always make me grin inanely while I’m reading them. :)

  • I picked this one up at a used bookstore years ago knowing nothing about Fforde but it certainly hooked me on his stuff!

    If you get the chance, check out his author website too – I haven’t poked around there for a while but he used to have a “Special Features” section for each of his books and would especially poke fun at any typos that made it into the final manuscript.

  • I’m so glad you ended up enjoying it. I’m about finish up my audio reread of the series and I love it even more the second time around.

  • I think this series is so much fun – but don’t wait too long before you read the next ones! I did and I sort of lost track of the world, which made them a bit more difficult to get into. Much better if you can read them all closer together!

  • I agree with Meghan – this series is much better in order! My reading of this series has been seriously mucked up: first #1 without having read Jane Eyre (unsurprisingly, I missed about 3/4 of the jokes), then a huge gap, then 4, then 1 with having read Jane Eyre, then another huge gap, then 2 & 3, then another huge gap, and now I’ve got 5 unread on the shelf and 6 coming out soon. I should just bite the bullet and re-read the whole shebang.

  • I actually really enjoyed this book when I read it a few years back but have yet to continue on with this series. Jasper Fforde is a very talented author though as I read his latest book, Shades of Grey, last year and enjoyed it as well. Thanks for reminding me about this series :)