by Jasper Fforde
Lost in a Good Book
Viking, Penguin USA.
Hardcover, 416 pages.
Special Operative Tuesday Next, literary detective, has become a national celebrity after her last case, in which she saved the literary masterpiece, Jayne Eyre from destruction by the evil villain Archeron Hades. (See, The Eyre Affair for further details). To make matters worse, the love of her life, her husband Landon, has been eradicated from this timeline by the evil megalithic Goliath Corporation. Tuesday has the rare ability to be able to read herself into a book -- literally. Goliath demands that she enter Poe's The Raven and release a criminal whom she imprisoned there. If she releases the infamous Jack Schitt, then her husband will be restored (right now, no one remembers that he ever even existed.) Tuesday is determined to find her husband, but her boss insists that she work on the case of a heretofore undiscovered Shakespeare play, Cardenio, the discovery of which could have devastating results in the next political election. With the help of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations and the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, Tuesday sets out on a dangerous literary adventure from which she may not return.
Tuesday Next lives in an alternate universe version of 1985 Great Britain where the Crimean War is still dragging on, Goliath Corporation runs just about everything, dodos, Neanderthals and woolly mammoths have been re-engineered, great literature is the great passion of the public, and time travel is possible. It's an absurdist universe, but one that is strangely recognizable. In fact, the Goliath Corporation descriptions bring to mind Enron executives busily manipulating California's energy market in order to make a profit. Jasper Fforde is a truly delightful writer: he excels at witty dialogue, vivid characterizations and insanely devilish plotting. The only annoyance? It will be an entire year until The Well of Lost Plots, which chronicles Tuesday's further adventures in literature, appears in American bookstores.
--Claire E. White
Lost in a Good Book is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the February, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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