Lost in a Good Book
A Thursday Next Novel
The inventive, exuberant, and totally original literary fun that began with The Eyre Affair continues with Jasper Fforde’s magnificent second adventure starring the resourceful, fearless literary sleuth Thursday Next. When Landen, the love of her life, is eradicated by the corrupt multinational Goliath Corporation, Thursday must moonlight as a Prose Resource Operative of Jurisfiction—the police force inside books. She is apprenticed to the man-hating Miss Havisham from Dickens’s Great Expectations, who grudgingly shows Thursday the ropes. And she gains just enough skill to get herself in a real mess entering the pages of Poe’s “The Raven.” What she really wants is to get Landen back. But this latest mission is not without further complications. Along with jumping into the works of Kafka and Austen, and even Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, Thursday finds herself the target of a series of potentially lethal coincidences, the authenticator of a newly discovered play by the Bard himself, and the only one who can prevent an unidentifiable pink sludge from engulfing all life on Earth.
I didn’t ask to be a celebrity. I never wanted to appear on The Adrian Lush Show. And let’s get one thing straight right now – the world would have to be hurtling towards imminent destruction before I’d agree to anything as dopey as The Thursday Next Workout Video.
The publicity surrounding the successful rebookment of Jane Eyre was fun to begin with but rapidly grew wearisome. I happily posed for photocalls, agreed to newspaper interviews, hesitantly appeared on Desert Island Smells and was thankfully excused the embarrassment of Celebrity Name That Fruit! The public, ever fascinated by celebrity, had wanted to know everything about me following my excursion within the pages of Jane Eyre, and since the Special Operations Network have a PR record on a par with that of Vlad the Impaler, the top brass thought it would be a good wheeze to use me to boost their flagging popularity. I dutifully toured all points of the globe doing signings, library openings, talks and interviews. The same questions, the same SpecOps-approved answers. Supermarket openings, literary dinners, offers of book deals. I even met the actress Lola Vavoom, who said that she would simply adore to play me if there were a film. It was tiring, but more than that – it was dull. For the first time in my career at the Literary Detectives I actually missed authenticating Milton.
I’d taken a week’s leave as soon my tour ended so Landen and I could devote some time to married life. I moved all my stuff to his house, rearranged his furniture, added my books to his and introduced my dodo, Pickwick, to his new home. Landen and I ceremoniously partitioned the bedroom closet space, decided to share the sock drawer, then had an argument over who was to sleep on the wall side of the bed. We had long and wonderfully pointless conversations about nothing in particular, walked Pickwick in the park, went out to dinner, stayed in for dinner, stared at each other a lot and slept in late every morning. It was wonderful.
On the fourth day of my leave, just between lunch with Landen’s mum and Pickwick’s notable first fight with the neighbour’s cat, I got a call from Cordelia Flakk. She was the senior SpecOps PR agent here in Swindon and she told me that Adrian Lush wanted me on his show. I wasn’t mad keen on the idea – or the show. But there was an upside. The Adrian Lush Show went out live and Flakk assured me that this would be a ‘no holds barred’ interview, something that held a great deal of appeal. Despite my many appearances, the true story about Jane Eyre was yet to be told – and I had been wanting to drop the Goliath Corporation in it for quite a while. Flakk’s assurance that this would finally be the end of the press junket clinched my decision. Adrian Lush it would be.
I travelled up to the Network Toad studios a few days later on my own; Landen had a deadline looming and needed to get his head down. But I wasn’t alone for long. As soon as I stepped into the large entrance lobby a milk-curdling shade of green strode purposefully towards me.
‘Thursday, darling!’ cried Cordelia, beads rattling. ‘So glad you could make it!’
The SpecOps dress code stated that our apparel should be ‘dignified’ but in Cordelia’s case they had obviously stretched a point. Anyone looking less like a serving officer was impossible to imagine. Looks, in her case, were highly deceptive. She was SpecOps all the way from her high heels to the pink-and-yellow scarf tied in her hair.
‘There’ll always be a few malcontents,’ observed Flakk. ‘Milk?’
2. The Speical Operations Network
3. Cardenio Unbound
4. Five Coincidences, Seven Irma Cohens and One Confused Neanderthal
5. Vanishing Hitchhikers
4a. Five Coincidences, Seven Irma Cohens and One Confused Thursday Next
7. White Horse, Uffington, Picnics, for the Use of
8. Mr. Stiggins and SO-1
9. The More Things Stay the Same
10. A Lack of Differences
11. Granny Next
12. At Home with My Memories
13. Mount Pleasant
14. The Gravitube™
15. Curiouser & Curiouser in Osaka
16. Interview with the Cat
17. Miss Havisham
18. The Trial of Fräulein N
19. Bargain Books
20. Yorrick Kaine
21. Les Artes Modernes de Swindon '85
22. Travels with My Father
23. Fun with Spike
24. Performance-Related Pay, Miles Hawke & Norland Park
25. Roll Call at Jurisfiction
26. Assignment One: Bloophole Filled in Great Expectations
27. Landen and Joffy Again
28. "The Raven"
30. Cardenio Rebound
31. Dream Topping
32. The End of Life As We Know It
33. The Dawn of Life as We Know It
34. The Well of Lost Plots
“Fforde [has a] head-spinning narrative agility. His novel is satire, fantasy, literary criticism, thriller, whodunit, game, puzzle, joke, postmodern prank and tilt-a-whirl.” (The Washington Post)
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