Literature comes alive in 'The Eyre Affair'

Imagine being able to shake hands with Ishmael, stroke the furrowed brow of Mr. Darcy or fight galactic battles with Ender. Whether we dream of space or vampires, of old English estates or magical schools of wizardry, bibliophiles cannot help but wish that the worlds we love could actually be experienced. And then, one wonderful writer thought, well - what if they could?

"The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde is a fantastical alternate reality of Great Britain. In this reality, cloning is commonplace, and dodos are the pet of choice. Different versions have different quirks, but everyone loves their dodo anyway. Time travelers known as the ChronoGuard travel through time to make sure history isn't disrupted by rogue time travelers who try to change everything by interfering in pivotal events.

But most importantly, literature is treasured by all. Baconians travel door to door to convince people that Shakespeare wasn't who they think he was. Audiences act out Shakespeare's plays themselves, shouting the lines together from the audience. And to protect the love of literature is a division of Special Operatives for Literary Detection.

Thursday Next is one of these special literary detection operatives. She helps spot fake manuscripts, shut down forgery groups, find rare volumes that need to be protected and track down criminals who would endanger the world of literature.

Next's Uncle Mycroft is a genius inventor. One day, he creates the Prose Portal, which allows readers to enter a work of literature, like a poem or a novel, and experience the story firsthand. Unfortunately, in any reality, there is nothing ever invented that cannot be used for evil by evildoers.

A heinous villain kidnaps Mycroft and his Prose Portal to enter original manuscripts and murder main characters, thereby irrevocably changing the literature forever and history itself.

Next gets entangled in the case to solve the mystery and save her Uncle Mycroft. She works to stop the villain before he ruins the most priceless work of literature yet: "Jane Eyre."

Fforde creates an amusing and imaginative world full of tongue-in-cheek characters, literary references and creative adventures. Any reader with a sense of humor and love of books will be overjoyed with their time in Fforde's topsy-turvy literary universe.