Thursday Next, literary detective and registered dodo owner begins her married life with the disturbing news that her husband of only a month drowned thirty-eight years ago, and no one but Thursday has any memory of him at all. Someone, somewhere, sometime, is responsible. Could it be the ubiquitous Goliath Corporation, who will stop at nothing to get their operative Jack Schitt out of ‘The Raven’ — the poem in which Thursday trapped him? Or are more sinister forces at work in Swindon?
Having barely caught her breath after The Eyre Affair, Thursday heads back into fiction to search for some answers. Along the way she finds herself helping Miss Havisham close narrative loopholes in Great Expectations, struggling for a deeper understanding of The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies and learning the truth about Larry the Lamb. Paper politicians, lost Shakespearean manuscripts, woolly mammoth migrations, a flurry of near-fatal coincidences and impending Armageddon are all part of a greater plan.
But whose? And why?
Time for another rave about the Thursday Next series. I am very much and a little cross with myself for not reviewing this when I finished it last year because I have lost that feeling and recall of exactly what happens and how I felt. Of course I remember a lot, not all of which I’ll tell you because it spoils the glory, but it is the little things and funny lines that make you laugh. So maybe when one has time for a reread I may find more but for now this will suffice. Lost in a Good Book takes place three months after The Eyre Affair fiasco and Thursday has become a celebrity of sorts, though slightly out of favour with the Bronte Federation, with good reason. Naturally Goliath Corp attempt to censor a lot of Thursday’s story and with a determination to repair the damage Thursday caused at the end of The Eyre Affair, they fight to get back what they want; but this time it’s personal on a whole new level. The consequences of the previous book’s actions are a strong narrative puller, but there is a lot more going on as well.
Issues around Shakespeare return in book two with a discovered lost transcript being investigated. As the best in the business regarding these matters, Thursday and her partner Bowden Cable try and determine if this really is the lost copy of the play Cardenio. This of course is connected to bigger and better things, as everything always is.
Thursday’s father makes another appearance in this book which is always fun. I do like him, you never know what is going to happen when he pops in. It messes with your head as you try to figure out what is going on, but it is just too fun to be bothered by any of it. The literary world also plays a much larger role in this book than The Eyre Affair. We discover more about the Book World, about the Great Library and we learn about Jurisfiction – the police force of literature (both fiction and non-fiction division).
What was wonderful about this book was not only the range and imagination of this world and the mass of literary knowledge and complex genius that just works (don’t ever question it), but it is also the fact that Fforde can do this with mystery and twists and unexpectedness that can be masterful when you deal with a world as surreal and insane as this. What seems odd to us is normal for them, so when strange things happen to them, you know it is going to be wonderful.
You really get to see that the characters in a book are as real as any of us, and are people who have their own lives to lead. Entering Jane Eyre showed us that but Lost in a Good Book takes it to a whole other level, which isn’t even every level, not even close. Reading about all these books: Shakespeare, Dickens, Kafka, it just makes you want to rush off and read them as well, but you can’t because you can not put down what you are reading.
There are hints and clues through these books as Fforde prepares us for the future and what we need to know. We don’t know it at the time but when we find out something clicks and we realise we already know. It is very much like getting the answer before the question is given, and you don’t even get told which answer goes to which question, but somehow you know.
Once again Fforde uses brilliant literary characters and insight to create yet another fantastic story of surreal but highly believable reality. There are new threats and enemies in this book, revenge, shoes, laughs, and more dodo than you could want (which is never enough). Just simply another great display of this alternate world of theirs, which even without the literature would be just as fantastic. There is more SpecOps, more Daphne Farquitt, lethal coincidences and the oncoming apocalypse, what more do you want? I applaud you Mr Fforde.