Tag Archives: Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde

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Hachette Australia

AUG 9, 2001 | 9780340733561 | RRP $19.99

Earlier in the year I reviewed what I have said was my read of the year – The Constant Rabbit – and while I knew of Jasper Fforde and the huge impact he’s made along with the rave reviews particularly from my Welsh friend, that book was my introduction to this author’s delightfully absurdist fantasy style. So naturally, his other titles promptly went on my TBR list.

The first is this, Fforde’s debut novel, which was in our library collection and I have just spent my compos mentis bedtime reading enjoying every word and phrase for the past week.

Set in an alternative UK, 1985, where the Crimean War still rages, extinct species are cloned as domestic pets and Wales is a fiercely independent and closed republic, the reader meets Thursday Next and a cast of wonderfully bizarre characters most of whom are heavily involved in either pursuing the criminals intent on making money from the lucrative literary market but also those intent on milking it. Specifically, one Acheron Hades, a strange and shadowy figure who is totally committed to evil for its own sake is bent on disrupting the entire canon of classic English literature by kidnapping fictional characters for ransom and altering plots.

It is totally bonkers, hilarious, at times poignant and ultimately a thoroughly satisfying adventure of epic proportions. You can read more about Thursday and Spec Ops on Jasper’s website. I, for one, now am on the trail of my next Fforde read.

If you want something completely different (thanks Python!) why not try out some of Jasper Fforde’s writing as a NY resolution!

The Constant Rabbit – Jasper Fforde

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Hachette

JUN 30, 2020 | 9781444763638 | RRP $32.99

In my opinion there are simply not enough books with rabbits as main characters (as she looks down at her rabbit-patterned PJs and rabbit-y slippers – well, what did you expect with my surname?). Jasper Fforde has brought his amazing brand of satirical humour to this new stand-alone novel and it’s a gem. It’s quirky and highly imaginative, full of extremely funny puns/play on words (particularly love the Rabbit-y adaptations of books and movies), absurd fantasy, thoroughly engaging protagonists and satisfyingly nasty villains and all in all is the most enjoyable romp through a rather far-fetched but very allegorical sort of dystopian UK.

In a parallel Britain of 2020 there are 1.2 million human-sized rabbits walking (as well as leaping and gambolling), talking, driving cars, working (most of them in not very highly paid jobs) and mostly living in colonies which are pretty over-crowded – as one would expect – and not well supported with infrastructure. This strange circumstance was caused by an spontaneous Inexplicable Anthropomorphism event some fifty-five years previously. It wasn’t just rabbits to be fair. There were a few other similar occurrences elsewhere in the world – an elephant in Africa, a ram in Australia, but in the main it was the UK affected with the majority rabbits but also some foxes, weasels and a few singular animals such as guinea pigs involved.

Though the rabbits have attained some rights, their lot is mostly pretty dismal and heavily restricted. They are always the target of various law enforcement agencies, with one dedicated purely to their harassment, and some rather nasty vigilante-type groups.

Peter Knox lives in a quiet village with his daughter Pippa. His neighbours are pretty hard-nose leporiphobics politically speaking but Peter, who works as an official Spotter for RabCoTRabbit Compliance Taskforce, formerly known as Rabbit Crime Taskforce – has never had any real issue with them. But when Doc and Constance Rabbit move in next door, Peter and Pippa are left in no doubt that one can be a friend to humans or a friend to rabbits but not to both.

The litany of injustices, hatred, bigotry and oppression towards the rabbits will resonate with many currently, given recent global focus on similar actions towards disenfranchised sectors of society. Some of the action, promulgated by the PM and Cabinet as a ‘positive’, is chillingly like the Nazi regime’s treatment of the Jewish people with the proposed forced relocation to MegaWarren frighteningly similar to removal to ghettos.

What Peter is to find out is that he is not as tolerant as he’s always believed himself to be and that humanity, his own humanity, is in need of some gentle rabbit influence. This is marvelously wrought throughout with the reader completely engrossed in the fantastical plot and with much upon which to reflect, both within ourselves and within our society.

Although primarily a novel for adults, I would have no hesitation in recommending this highly for your senior students and believe that for studies of parallel real events and circumstances it would provide rich fodder for debate and discussion.

How can you go wrong? I mean to say, it’s rabbits. 🙂