Reviewed by L.D.Y.
Trade, 360 pages, 2003
Reason for Reading: Loved The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book.
Synopsis: In this third book of the Thursday Next series, Thursday is sent to the Well of Lost Plots to avoid detection by the evil Aornis during her pregnancy by her husband Landen, who’s been erased in all but her memories. Living in the pages of an unpublished book, Thursday plunges deep into the world of fiction – the fiction that goes on in books between chapters – and must save herself as well as the fictional characters that she is sworn to protect.
Why you should read this book: Fforde has an absolutely terrific imagination, and his Thursday Next books explode with creativity and fun. Anyone who’s ever read the classics and loved them, or read them and wished they’d have had a little more zing to them will love this series, as Thursday goes to Jurisfiction meetings at a house from a Jane Austen novel, attends anger management meetings with the cast of Wuthering Heights, watches Miss Havisham of Great Expectations drag racing, and houses two Generics as they study their way to becoming more well-rounded characters. Clever, funny, and just plain fun.
Why you should avoid this book: Being a kind of literary sci-fi book, it’s definitely best to start at the beginning of this series so you know what kind of crazy fictional world you’re walking into. The book lacks some of the suspense of the previous books, opting instead largely for clever literary in-joke for people that love to read. Of course, now Fforde has set up a lot of the background for his continuing series. A broad understanding of the classics will let you in on more of the jokes in the book, but a lot of the books Fforde has chosen to mention are classics with well-known plots.
The Well of Lost Plots: To understand the Well you have to have an idea of the layout of the Great Library. The library is where all published fiction is stored so it can be read by the readers in the Outland; there are twenty-six floors, one for each letter of the alphabet. The library is constructed in the layout of a cross with the four corridors radiating from the centre point. On all the walls, end after end, shelf after shelf, are books. Hundreds, thousands, millions of books. Hardbacks, paperbacks, leather-bound, everything. But beneath the Great Library are twenty-six floors of dingy yet industrious sub-basements known as the Well of Lost Plots. This is where books are constructed, honed and polished in a readiness for a place in the library above. But the similarity of all these books to the copies we read back home is no more than the similarity a photograph has to its subject; these books are alive.
THURSDAY NEXT – The Jurisfiction Chronicles.
‘Take heart from the fact that this doesn’t make you a bad person,’ said Miss Havisham. ‘You just have a repetitive character disorder. You are a serial ad-libber and the 796th Lucy we have had to imprison here. In less civilised times you would have been reduced to text. Good day.’
And we vanished back to the corridors of the Great Library.
‘And to think she was the most pleasant person in Floss!’ I said, shaking my head sadly.
‘You’ll find that the most righteous characters are the first ones to go loco down here. The average life of a Lucy Deane is about a thousand readings; self-righteous indignation kicks in after that.’
‘Where were we, young lady?’
‘You were talking about Charlotte Bronte ordering backstories and then not using them.’
‘Oh, yes.’ The man smiled, delicately turning a tap on the apparatus and watching a small drip of an oily coloured liquid fall into a flask. ‘I made the most wonderful backstory for both Edward and Bertha Rochester, but do you know she only used a very small part of it?
‘That must have been very disappointing.’
‘It was.’ He sighed. ‘I am an artist, not a technician. But it didn’t matter. I sold it lock, stock and barrel a few years back to The Wide Sargasso Sea.’
Also recommended: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams; One for the Money by Janet Evanovich; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling.
Also by this author: The Eyre Affair; Lost in a Good Book; Something Rotten; First Among Sequels; The Big Over Easy; The Fourth Bear.
Author’s website: jasperfforde.com
Â© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007