Book review: Thursday Next #2: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (Hodder & Stoughton, 2002)
Thursday Next is back. This time it’s personal.
For Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, life should be good. Riding high on a wave of celebrity following her investigation of kidnapped Jane Eyre, Thursday ties the knot with the man she loves.
But marital bliss isn’t quite as it should be. It turns out her husband of one month actually drowned thirty-eight years ago, and no-one but Thursday has any memory of him at all.
Someone, somewhere is responsible.
Having barely caught her breath after The Eyre Affair, Thursday heads back into fiction in search of the truth, discovering that paper politicians, lost Shakespearean manuscripts, a flurry of near fatal coincidences and impending Armageddon are all part of a greater plan.
But whose? And why?
As it turns out, after The Eyre Affair, the newly-wed Thursday Next is in high demand. She gets interviewed – mainly about dodos, as SpecOps can’t have her talking about anything confidential, of course – and they’re even talking about making her life into a film. Most people seem to agree that the new ending to Jane Eyre is better than the original (she even has the approval of a big Brontë organisation) but there is a world inside book covers, and she’s done a big no-no in their eyes: changing the plot! For that, she needs to stand trial … in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, of all places.
Meanwhile, Thursday is trying to determine if a lost and found Shakespeare manuscript is real or not, but she is also haunted for reasons unknown by a bunch of coincidences that do their best to kill her, and Goliath grow ever more impatient. As her uncle Mycroft’s gone undercover (in the Sherlock Holmes books), there is no prose portal, and they can’t recreate one either – and they want Jack Schitt to stand trial. He was last seen in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. Not a place you’d want to stay for very long, really.
In a bid to blackmail Thursday into venturing into said poem to retrieve Schitt, Goliath get some ChronoGuards to go back in time and eradicate her new husband, meaning only Thursday can remember him. To the rest of the world, he died in a car accident at the age of two. (The eradication doesn’t actually happen until half-way through the novel, but seeing as how the back cover has already spoiled it, well …)
After having read The Eyre Affair, expectations were high for the sequel, and Jasper Fforde does not disappoint. If you thought the line between the real world and fiction was hazy in the first book, the second in the series nearly removes it completely!
With brilliant inventions like the “footnoterphone”, the Great Library and Jurisfiction, we delve even deeper into fiction. It’s a hilarious, inventive and definitely very bizarre ride, but Lost in a Good Book is at least as good as its predecessor.
The concept of there being a whole world inside fiction (and non-fiction, leading to an interesting scene set in the washing instructions of a piece of clothing!) is brilliant. What bookworm can read that and not squee excitedly, wishing it was true? The sheer genius of coming up with these concepts makes the Thursday Next books well worth a read. It puts fiction on its head and really goes to town with the whole Fourth Wall thing, as well as poking fun at generic characters.
5 out of 5 Gravitubes. Now there’s an invention!