Science fiction and fantasy
Lost In A Good Book
by Jasper Fforde
The Eyre Affair our heroine has become something of a celebrity. But her new-found fame hasn't afforded her the freedom she expected, or even a voice. She wants to tell the true story, but every interview is censored. She can't even discuss cheese without someone trying to silence her. That's only the start of this madcap farce, which keeps on getting wackier. Mammoths rampage through suburbia and unhappy Neanderthals protest their situation, a Supreme Evil Being makes an appearance, and a series of deadly coincidences keep occurring and pointing to Thursday's impending doom. Meanwhile a very convincing manuscript of a lost Shakespearean play emerges. There's a lot going on in this story, much of it bizarre.
That's not to say the novel is filled with relentless action. Thursday isn't afraid to fight her corner, but she doesn't always do it with fists flying. Whilst the story never slows down it's more of a thoughtful experience than some mad dash from one eccentric scrape to the next.
Thursday gets help from Miss Haversham and other literary figures as she learns to navigate the pages of fiction and move into books to find the answers she's looking for, or to seek refuge. With every chapter Jasper Fforde demonstrates his infectious enthusiasm for fiction. This story is a tribute to the classic works of English literature, and at the same time it's a thorough riot. Characters like the Red Queen and the Cheshire cat turn up alongside others from Dickens, Jane Austen and a host of other works. Those from within the Bookworld series are named with Jasper Fforde's characteristic knack for the ridiculous: agents Lamb and Slaughter, an eccentric old chap called Volescamper, pudding writer Cilla Bubb, and so on.
However it's not all puns and silliness, just as the story isn't non-stop action. Lost In A Good Book is a carefully balanced mixture of all the right elements. There's a liberal dose of fun and enough tension to keep the pages turning, but there's more as well. It's a satire on the system embodied by the monolithic Goliath corporation, with its fingers in every pie and its shadowy control over government and the media. Thursday has never been one to accept bullying or injustice from anyone, and her defiance of everyone who tries to pressure her, from politicians to pushy colleagues to wicked villains is triumphant. This is quite a complex story which fits together cleverly. It's every bit as quirky and inventive as the first book in the series.
14th April 2011
If you like this, try:Chasing The Moon by A. Lee Martinez
A woman tackles Lovecraftian horrors, odd neighbours and strange appetites when she moves into a suspiciously nice new flat.
Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett goes all military in this satire on women in the army.
Automated Alice by Jeff Noon
Alice in Wonderland travels forward in time.
Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Jasper Fforde