I first read The Eyre Affair in 2014 and didn’t love it at the time (I felt like it was too plot-driven, too zany) but this time around it was exactly what I was in the mood for, and I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series at some point sooner rather than later. As previously noted, this book is set in an alternate England where time travel is possible and literature is Extremely Important. Thursday Next is a special agent in the LiteraTec department, dealing with forgeries and manuscript thefts, and the theft of a manuscript that’s a very big deal is what sets the plot of the book in motion: Martin Chuzzlewit has been stolen. Thursday finds herself in pursuit of the suspect, Acheron Hades (a supervillain who faked his own death in years prior); her genius uncle Mycroft and his newest invention, the Prose Portal (which lets a person enter a work of literature) end up being part of the story as well. Hades’s idea is to use the Prose Portal for purposes of extortion: if he or his henchmen enter an original manuscript and harm one of the characters, all the copies of the book in the world will change as the original manuscript is altered. And he’s not just interested in Martin Chuzzlewit: his next heist is to steal the original manuscript of Jane Eyre, at which point things get really personal for Thursday, who has her own connections with that book and its characters.

I think part of why I enjoyed this book more this time around (aside from being pretty happy to read for plot and humor, at the moment) is that I watched the National Theatre production of Jane Eyre online in April, so the characters and world of that novel were fresh in my mind in a way that they definitely weren’t when I first read The Eyre Affair. Because of that, I think I was better able to enjoy the way that the events of this book shape the plot of Jane Eyre in Thursday’s world. And all the details I loved from my first read still made me grin: pet dodos created via cloning kits, kids trading bubblegum cards with Henry Fielding characters on them instead of baseball players, Baconians proselytizing door to door, a production of Richard III that’s acted entirely by audience members and features audience participation in the style of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and more.

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