Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
The Eyre Affair
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair is the first novel written by Jasper Fforde. Published in 2001, it is the story of literary detective Thursday Next's pursuit of master criminal Acheron Hades through 1985 United Kingdom (minus Wales, an independent republic in the novel's world) and through the pages of the Charlotte Brontė novel Jane Eyre.

Warning: Plot details follow.

In this parallel world, the United Kingdom and Imperial Russia have fought the Crimean War for more than a century. Britain itself is a police state, spearheaded in fact by the Goliath Corporation, in which literary questions (especially the Shakespearean authorship) are often fought out in the streets and in the halls of government. Maintaining the integrity of the English people's literary heritage is important enough for a special branch of the police, SpecOps-27, to be devoted to preserving works of literature from destruction or modification.

SpecOps literary detective Thursday Next is temporarily transferred from the London to SpecOps-5 to help them apprehend the third most wanted criminal in the world, Acheron Hades. Due to a prior acquaintance with Hades, Next comes closer to capturing him than anyone else has. While she's recuperating from her injuries, she reads Jane Eyre, one of her favorite books when she was younger, and has a flashback where she's helped to her feet by Edward Rochester, one of the characters from the novel. In this world, however, public opinion is divided between those who enjoy Jane Eyre as it is (the Brontė Society) and those who want to see it with a happier ending (almost everyone else).

Next journeys to the English countryside and meets her uncle Mycroft (whose name most likely comes from Sherlock Holmes' brother) and aunt Polly. Mycroft is an inventor who's developed bookworms that eat the words of books and the Prose Portal, a device that allows people to step into the pages of any work of literature. She also renews an acquaintance with Landen Parke-Laine, a officer she used to work with, also a Crimean War veteran, and her former fiancee.

On call to the ploice bureau in Swindon, Next and Parke-Laine learn that Hades has kidnapped Mycroft, Polly, and the Prose Portal in order to blackmail the people of Britain by changing their favorite novels. He removes Mr. Quaverly, a minor character in Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit, from the original manuscript of the novel with the Portal and kills him -- altering the text of every copy of the novel -- when his demands are not met.

Next, Parke-Laine, and a Goliath Corporation operative named Jack trace Hades to Wales. Next follows Hades into the original text of Jane Eyre from which he's just kidnapped the title character. She meets up again with Rochester, who's perfectly aware that he's a character in a book, but who remembers meeting the SpecOps-27 agent before. Next had her uncle Mycroft close the portal behind her until she said certain words which would be reflected in the revised text. But this becomes a catch-22, since Jane Eyre is a fictional autobiography -- that is, the reader can only hear and see what Jane does. Even after Jane is returned to the novel, Next can't reveal herself without changing the story.

She persuades Rochester to do what he'd been inclined to do anyway, pursue Jane and ask her to marry him. When Rochester succeeds and Hades disguised as Rochester fails to get the code words from Next, Next pursues Hades in the pouring rain, and he dies impaled during a rooftop chase. Upon returning to her own world, Thursday Next uses the Prose Portal to release her aunt Polly from a Wordsworth poem and imprison Jack, who'd been collaborating with Hades to abduct a new plasma rifle for use in the Crimean War, in a reprint of Poe's poem "The Raven".

Next and Parker-Laine agree to marry each other after his planned wedding is interrupted by "the existence of an impediment", just like Jane and Rochester's originally was. The newlyweds are greeted by Thursday's father, a SpecOps-1 ChronoGuard who's part of the police force that makes sure history is right. After dispensing some fatherly advice, he disappears. England and Russia now seek to end the War (because the new rifles England did have don't work!), and the English public is overjoyed with the new ending to Jane Eyre, in which she and Edward Rochester are married with children.