All those books on my shelves waiting to be read, and I couldn’t resist taking this one out from my local library and jumping in. You will recall that I enjoyed the first Thursday Next book on audio. I couldn’t find this one in that format, so text it is. I have some observations on the format, but first, what is it about?
Thursday Next is back, recently married, and pregnant. She and Landen are happy, but overwhelmed by the publicity linked to her successful but still controversial victory over Acheron Hades, which involved changing the ending of Jane Eyre. The forces of darkness are not through, however: Goliath Corporation wants Jack Schitt back (oh, these names!), and his brother Schitt-Hawse is not afraid to use some pretty ugly blackmail techniques to get him. Landen is in trouble, and Thursday will have to follow Schitt into Poe’s The Raven to execute both men’s safe return. And finally, Acheron Hades may be dead, but (shockingly) he had friends…
Everything I liked about the first book is here: silliness and hilarity, but also some rather sober statements on the ugliness of war, and an evil, all-powerful corporation that is both deliciously ogreish and frighteningly true to life. Not to mention that most central quality: that in this alternate world, books and literature are deeply important to everyone. This fantasy is deeply enjoyable for those of us who feel that way in the real world but who are, sadly, the minority.
What is better about book 2 than book 1 is that there is far more entering of books: in this edition, Thursday acquires the skill, with the help of the Cheshire Cat and Miss Havisham, of reading herself into any book she chooses. Thus we get to visit Sense and Sensibility and The Raven, and of course Great Expectations, as well as a few others, even unpublished manuscripts. Great fun! This aspect of the story’s possibilities (that is, the possibilities of Fforde’s delightful invented world) is not perhaps exploited fully; but the series continues, and I am joyfully anxious to read the next installment.
Format-wise, I loved the voices (and the accents) on the audiobook I listened to of book 1; but there’s a lot to be had in the print version of this one. For one thing, certain inhabitants of Book-World speak to Thursday in foot-notes, which only she can hear and which appear to me as actual foot-notes on the bottom of the page – the disjointedness of which was quite appropriate. I don’t know how that would have been executed in audio format. And there are other things: spellings, subscripts, and the like, that are very much printing jokes, and thus best (only?) enjoyed in print. So while I like the convenience of audio (and the accents!), this may be a series to read in actual book form. Which is probably how Thursday and her Book-World/JurisFiction cohorts would have it, anyway.