The Eyre Affair [Audiobook Review]

Title: The Eyre Affair
Author: Jasper Fforde
Narrator: Susan Duerdan
Genre: Yeah…not sure on this one
ISBN: 0143145703
Pages: 384
Audio: 12 hours 14 minutes
Year: 2002
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Source: Library
Rating: 4.5/5


It’s 1985 in a world that reveres literature (among other differences). Someone has stolen the original Martin Chuzzlewit manuscript. It is up to Thursday Next, a Special Operative in the Literary Tech division (SO-27), to figure out who. Along the way she encounters fictional worlds, vampires, time travel, politics,  family, long lost love and more. Can she do it all?

My Thoughts:

The sixth Thursday Next book will be released in March (on my birthday actually) and in preparation, I wanted to go back and reread the first five books. There is a lot of stuff happening in these books and it’s easy to forget so I decided I needed a refresher. After Emily from Books, the Universe & Everything recommended the audio, I decided to give it a try.

I loved the reread both because of the book itself and because of the audio production. I’d forgotten most of the plot to The Eyre Affair. I think I read it back in 2005. It was like reading it for the first time but with some characters that I already knew well.

I was afraid that some of the fun and word play would be lost in the audio but it wasn’t. It was still a lot of fun. Susan Duerdan did a wonderful job with the narration. She sounded like Thursday Next to me but was able to slip into and out of the other quirky characters with ease. I do think that if it weren’t a reread, it might have been easy to get a little lost since the plot is so insane.

These books are a little bit of everything: fantasy, mystery, romance, satire, science fiction, adventure, you name it. I highly recommend this series to everyone who loves books.

Other Reviews: Things Mean a Lot; If You Can Read This

Buy It Now: IndieBound; Powell’s; Book Depository; Amazon

Shades of Grey [Book Review]

Title: Shades of Grey
Author: Jasper Fforde
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Dystopian
ISBN: 0670019631
Pages: 388
Year: 2009
Publisher: Viking
Source: Dunedin Public Library
Rating: 4.5/5

Plot summary (from Barnes and Noble):

As long as anyone can remember, society has been ruled by a Colortocracy. From the underground feedpipes that keep the municipal park green to the healing hues viewed to cure illness to a social hierarchy based upon one’s limited color perception, society is dominated by color. In this world, you are what you can see.

Young Eddie Russett has no ambition to be anything other than a loyal drone of the Collective. With his better-than-average red perception, he could well marry Constance Oxblood and inherit the string works; he may even have enough red perception to make prefect.

For Eddie, life looks colorful. Life looks good.

But everything changes when he moves with his father, a respected swatchman, to East Carmine. There, he falls in love with a Grey named Jane who opens his eyes to the painful truth behind his seemingly perfect, rigidly controlled society.

Curiosity–a dangerous trait to display in a society that demands total conformity–gets the better of Eddie, who beings to wonder: Why are there not enough spoons to go around? Why is everything–and everyone–barcoded? What happened to all the people who never returned from High Saffron? And why, when you begin to question the world around you, do black-and- white certainties reduce themselves to shades of grey?

Other Books I’ve Read By Author: The Eyre Affair; Lost in a Good Book; The Well of Lost Plots; Something Rotten; Thursday Next: First Among Sequels

Why I Picked Up This Book: I love the Thursday Next series and I was intrigued by the idea of the colortocracy.

My thoughts:

This book was wonderful. I’m not sure I should say this here, but I think I liked it better than the Thursday Next books. The idea is so original yet very simple: a dystopian novel with a hierarchy based on the color you can see.

The people in this world all follow the rules. They don’t make new spoons because the great Munsell has instructed them not to. There are loopholes a plenty to get around the crazy rules, but the rules are followed and generally not questioned. While this seems absurd to me, the girl who has a thousand questions for everyone, our main character, Eddie, is generally happy. This is not a novel where the main character feels oppressed and lost faith in his government ages ago. Eddie is perfectly okay with abiding by all the silly mandates that get tossed his way.

But then he meets Jane. The girl with the adorable nose who threatens to punch him upon meeting.  And Jane forces him to see what’s really out there (although he can still only see it in Red). What he finds terrifies him and changes him and leaves me wanting the rest of the story.

While certainly a dystopian novel, Fforde keeps this one light and funny, only to make it a little darker toward the end. His writing is just as fun as it is in the Thursday Next novels and I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occassion.

This novel is about Eddie’s discovery of himself, his world, and what he must do. While it is a fantastic book, it really just sets up the story in the rest of the series – which I can’t wait to read.

Final question: Where are all the Oranges? [EDIT: I have since found this explanation of the Munsell Color System which explains why there are no Oranges and explains who this Munsell character is.]

Memorable Passages:

I’ve already returned the book to the library, so I can’t pull out my favorite passages, but I will say that I think this has an exceptionally fabulous first line:

“It began with my father not wanting to see The Last Rabbit, and ended up with my being eaten by a carnivorous plant.”

Will I Read This Author Again?: Absolutely

Other Reviews:

See addendum to this review here.

Teaser Tuesday

“ The cucumber and the tomato are both fruit; the avocado is a nut. To assist with the dietary requirements of vegetarians, on the first Tuesday of the month a chicken is officially a vegetable.”

– Page 46 of Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde-


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde is the fifth book in the Thursday Next series.  These books are ones that always take me a little while to get into but I consistently end up enjoying.  Like its predecessors, First Among Sequels is an entertaining read full of adventure, quirky humor, and word play.

This story takes us quite a few years into the future (giving us a 50-year-old female protagonist which is not really that common if you think about it).  Thursday still has her dual role at SpecOps and Jurisfiction and has added a third at Acme Carpets as yet another cover.  She is also involved in the illegal cheese market and a mother to 3 children (reading this made me tired).

When I first started reading this book, I felt that too many things were going on at once.  She is parenting a lazy teenager, being visited by ghosts, training new Jurisfiction cadets, purchasing illegal goods from Wales, and much more.  But once the story took off I relaxed and enjoyed it. I always like the stories that take place in the Book World best and this one was no exception.

One of the things that I love about this series is that reading is as popular in Thursday’s world as television is in ours.  However, in First Among Sequels, television has taken over and people are no longer reading.  I didn’t want her reality to become our reality.  I like the idea of a parallel universe where people care more about who Shakespeare really was than who the next American Idol will be.  But I must always remember that things are not always what they seem and there is an explanation (even if it is completely thought out) as to why things are the way they are in Fforde’s books.

I don’t want to discuss the plot any further because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who have yet to read the first four books.  If you are reading this post, I assume you love reading.  And these books are meant for those who love reading.  The first book in the series is The Eyre Affair and I highly recommend checking it out (it’s currently 50% off at The Book Depository).

Now that I am caught up on the Thursday Next series, I must start Fforde’s Nursery Crimes series.