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|Lost in a Good Book|
|Review in I Love A Mystery Website|
|By Andi Shechter, March, 2003|
|For a link to iloveamysterynewsletter.com click HERE|
Without a doubt this is the most difficult review I've ever tried to write. I'm wild about this book, but it is so very difficult to describe. My enthusiasm for it makes me want to say, "oh, and on page 24, there's this hysterical pun," and, "on page 96, there's a wonderful reference, let me tell you about it," and "oh, and wait until you hear about this character's name!" And that's not a review. Nor is it fair to you, assuming, well, that you haven't read the book yet.
So, what's this book about? Well, um, see, it's about trying to ensure the world doesn't end (and turn into pink goo) and it's about rescuing someone who's been essentially made to not exist, when he existed yesterday, and it's about Miss Havisham, and coincidence, and the return of the Neanderthals and cloned dodos.
If you read the first book by this Welsh author, THE EYRE AFFAIR, you know that you're reading about a very alternate universe, where there's a very busy investigation branch that looks into "new" books by dead authors and where lots of people name themselves Anne Hathaway. Where an evening's entertainment is a participatory (a la "Rocky Horror Picture Show") performance of Shakespeare's "Richard III" (one of the finest scenes in that book) and where the Crimean War has been going on for ninety years, until our heroine, Thursday Next, ends it. Next's boss is Braxton Hicks (look it up, go on) and Thursday is just trying to do her job now, despite being a national hero, and she just refuses to do the work-out tape by explaining to a hopeful woman:
"You see, Shakespeare never wrote on lined paper with a ball-point, and even if he did, I doubt he would have had Cardenio seeking Lucinda in the Sierra Morena mountains driving an open-top Range Rover whilst playing "It's the Same Old Song" by the Four Tops."
In this England, everything is taken care of, whether you like it or not, by the Goliath Corporation, which has taken over pretty much everything, from government and politics to the military. Next, who managed to make some pretty awful people disappear, has been targeted by some of their friends and they try to destroy her life by "disappearing" her husband - in this time stream, he does not exist. And she's still pregnant with what she still hopes is his child.
Describing how Thursday jumps in and out of books would take too long; trust me, she does. And sometimes the characters jump with her; some of them are aware of their fates in the books, others are not. It's an immensely imaginative premise and I suspect it's hard on some folks to deal with. I'm not sure that my years of reading science fiction help with my "suspension of disbelief" here, but I suspect it does. How else can you keep reading when Thursday's wonderful
More. scroll on down...
Uncle Mycroft (who created and then had to destroy the "Prose Portal" through which his niece visited Jane Eyre) most recently has come up with both "enhanced indexing," where the thing you want to look up is right there, on the very page you open to; and a special vacuum just to pick up the millions of Lego toy pieces lost each year.
I do not have a "classical" education; I mean that I'm an American, who did not read many of the English classics that are apparently required for higher education in Britain, or at the very least, to understand many of the hundreds of arcane references in LOST IN A GOOD BOOK. But I didn't miss the two characters named "Phodder" and "Kannon" who, alas, were later replaced by "Walken" and "Dedman". Or the trial where Tuesday defends herself in the courtroom based on "The Trial," an inspired chapter where the non-logic of Kafka's creation is used totally by Next to free herself from a trap.
Did I mention the mammoth migration, or that dodos say "plock, plock"?