First Among Sequels – Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde is, like Robert Rankin, one of those writers who give the impression of being madder than a box of very mad things that haven’t been taking their medication. In real life he may be completely sane, of course. But it’s a little hard to believe…

After surprising me by coming up with a whole new invented world in The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear, Jasper has returned to the world of Thursday Next, who first appeared in The Eyre Affair, mumble years ago. Time has passed, and Thursday’s life is a lot different now. The Special Operations division she worked for (SO-27 – literary crime) has been abolished, and she now sells carpets with her former police colleagues. Welllllllllll, sort of. Acme Carpets is a cover for her real activities – she’s still working to keep English literature intact.

Errr, perhaps I should explain…. Naaah. Let’s just say that Thursday can read herself into books, and interact with literary characters. And that books can be changed. For instance, Thomas Hardy’s novels used to be wildly funny comedies…

And there’s trouble for Thursday. She has to deal with her fictional counterparts: one from the first four novels about her, which share their titles with the ones available in our world, but little else, and one from the much soppier and nicer follow-up, which was deleted almost immediately. And she doesn’t get on with herself terribly well.

And then there’s her 16 year old son, who shows no sign at all of fulfilling his destiny and becoming head of the ChronoGuard. This is a bit of a problem as he’s supposed to be saving the world from destruction any day now.

It’s pretty much the usual Jasper Fforde fun and games. Very silly, lots of fun and highly recommended, as are all of his books.