Fourteen years after Thursday Next pegged out at Superhoop ’88, her Jurisfiction job has been downgraded due to a potential conflict of interest, since her previous adventures are now themselves in print.
Thursday’s time is spent worrying about her teenage son Friday and tutoring new recruits. This being fiction, however, jeopardy is never far away. Sherlock Holmes is killed at the Rheinbach falls and his series is stopped in its tracks. Before this can be righted, Miss Marple dies in a narratively inexplicable car accident, bringing her series also to a close. Thursday, receiving a death-threat clearly intended for her written self, realises what is going on – there is a serial killer is loose in the Bookworld.
Meanwhile, Goliath have perfected a 22-seater Prose Portal Luxury Coach, and plan on taking literary tourists on a holiday to the works of Jane Austen. Thursday alone realises the true intent of Goliath’s unwanted incursions into fiction, but she can’t fight all these battles on her own. She must team up with the one person she really can’t get along with – the written Thursday Next, currently starring in The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco. But it’s no time to be picky.
I was lucky enough to pick this up at a local bookshop, where Fforde was making an appearance so my copy is signed and has a very nice ACME stamp on the title page
Jasper Fforde’s books are always a joy to read, especially his Thursday Next series, and in this the book does not disappoint, set fourteen years after the events in ‘Something Rotten’ Thursday has ‘retired’ from active SpecOps duty to start the Acme Carpet business. Which is both a real business for the underemployed and a front for the remaining SpecOps team.
At home, Thursday�s sixteen-year-old son, Friday, like every idle teenager the world over would rather sleep all day than follow his destiny as a member of the ChronoGaurd (okay so maybe not like every teenager then!), the force that regulates time travel, and save the world from imminent destruction. And when things get really bad � reality book shows look set to transplant reality TV shows, and The Goliath Corporation invents a transfictional tourist bus � Thursday must once again have her wits about her as she travels to the very limits of acceptable narrative possibilities to rescue the reading experience from almost certain destruction. She captains the ship Moral Dilemma, fends off vicious Mrs Danvers clones, dispenses with a so-so Thursday Next novel called The Samuel Pepys Fiasco and faces down her most vicious enemy yet: herself.
Jasper Fforde is always a joy to read and in this the book does not disappoint, however, in my opinion this is by far the weakest of the series so far. Don’t get me wrong, the book is still wonderfully original, entertaining and if you are daft enough to read it in public, it is in parts rip-snortingly funny, but something is missing. Perhaps it is the crowded and cluttered plot, maybe the lack of an out and out bad guy (although Aornis Hades revenge is satisfyingly evil and disturbing) but the book just doesn’t sparkle and shine like the others in the series.