That was a wild, wild romp.
I have been meaning to dive into the Thursday Next series for years, and finally decided to take the plunge after MBD's review of the most recent installment in the series. I've read all of Fforde's Chronicles of Kazam, so I am familiar with his unique style, but even so, nothing really prepared me for this book.
Fforde dropped me directly into the world, with a minimum of exposition and almost no info-dumping. It isn't necessarily easy to figure out all of what is going on with the Spec Ops, and he seems to want his readers to be off-balance since he constantly throws curveballs into the narrative.
I do love books about books, though, so the premise of this series is just so delicious. And Fforde must be one of the most well-read writers currently working, because the book is plock full o'references to classic literature. The references to Shakespeare and the controversy as to the true identity of the playwright alone were voluminous and fascinating. About midway through the book I started highlighting the literary references, and then I found this GR list of all of the books mentioned in the Thursday Next series.
Poor Mr. Quaverly. Lost forever from the pages of Martin Chuzzlewit, a book which I am now going to have to read. I loved the conceit with the ending of Jane Eyre, as well.
I'm midway through another detective story, so I'm not going to start book two until I finish that one, but I found The Eyre Affair engaging enough that I definitely want to continue with the series! And even though this isn't technically a mystery, I'm counting it as one of the 50 crimes of summer!