Book Review: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

September 4, 2003


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Lost in a Good Book
by Jasper Fforde

This second of the “Thursday Next” adventures that began with The Eyre Affair is exciting, funny and mentally engaging. A romp in an alternative-1985 England, where there are no airplanes and Germany did not lose in World War II; while on the other hand time travel, undead problems, and resequenced mammoths, dodos and Neanderthals are part of every-day life. Everyone is nuts about literature, a whole category of crimes has grown up around forged Shakespearean plays and, just to make the insanity complete, there are ways of actually getting into a book and (for characters in the books) of going from one book to another–or even into the real world.

Thursday Next is a Litera-Tec operative, fresh off saving Jane Eyre from a homicidal redaction by demonic super-villain Acheron Hades. But being a hero hasn’t made things easy for her: the Goliath conglomerate wants her blood. The Brontë Federation is split over whether the new ending of Jane Eyre is an improvement. Some ChronoGuard agents want to use her to catch her elusive, time-traveling, rogue-agent father. And now someone is trying to use strings of fantastic coincidences to kill Thursday, who has just found out that she is pregnant.

Plus, she has a week to find out what is going to cause all life on Earth to turn into pink goo and stop it from happening. A new Shakespeare play has turned up and a creepy politician plans to turn it into political gold. Worst of all, just when Thursday needs him most, her husband Landen is erased from history.

Oh yes, and it turns out that her pet dodo, Pickwick, is a girl.

I haven’t even mentioned half of the things Thursday is up against in this wild and woolly book. If I had, this review would be nearly as long as the book. Somehow it all works, right down to how Thursday learns to jump into the world of books, where she becomes an apprentice operative for an organization called (I kid you not) Jurisfiction. Whether in the world of Jurisfiction, or in the “real” world, she is bound for all kinds of weird trouble, ranging from automobiles falling from the sky, mayhem at a book sale, a showdown with a Supreme Evil Being, and a trial lawyer who communicates in footnotes.

Meanwhile, characters and in-jokes from literature–great and not-so-great–abound: from Carroll to Kafka, from Austen to Arthurian legend, plus a dash of Dickens and a shot of Shakespeare, a bit of Poe, and enough tidbits that if you catch them all, you should be able to pass a college literary reading-requirement. And if you don’t get them, you’ll just have to read more!

And in the end, the book leaves plenty of room for the next “Thursday Next” novel:The Well of Lost Plots.