Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Woman Who Died a Lot

by Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde's "Thursday Next" novels are literaly and literarily impossible to describe. He began with The Eyre Affair in 2001 and The Woman Who Died a Lot is the seventh and latest book in the series. I highly recommend the books, but with the caveat that they need to be read from the beginning and in order. This is not the type of series that you can jump into midway through and hope to understand what's going on. Start at the beginning, and let Fforde introduce the world Thursday inhabits to you gently, and get you accustomed to the time travel, book travel, home-cloned dodos, and general mayhem that exists and makes the series as smart and as entertaining as it is.

The Woman Who Died a Lot begins with Thursday Next, four months into a forced semiretirement in her home in Swindon, trying to recover from a near fatal assassination attempt. She can't walk without a stick, has limited use of one of her arms, and her vision has been compromised. The idea was for her to enjoy some R & R at home with her husband Landen, her two children Friday and Tuesday, and Jenny, her third child, who doesn't actually exist.

But life has a way of happening, and in the world Fforde has created, it happens in bizarre and inexplicable ways. Her son Friday's life is in turmoil as his future success as head of the ChronoGuard, saving seventy-six billion lives traveling back and fourth in time, has been eradicated due to the shutdown of the Time Engines. And his recently delivered Letter of Destiny from the Federated Union of Timeworkers reveals to him that his new future consists of him murdering a man at the end of the week and spending the next 37 years in prison.

Her genius daughter Tuesday is having problems working out the bugs with the Anti-Smote Shield, which is desperately needed soon to protect Swindon from an impending smiting from an angry god. If she can't get it working properly, Swindon and all its inhabitants, will be wiped off the face of the earth. Jenny, her "other daughter" is in fact a mindworm, implanted by Mnemonomorph Aornis Hades in Thursday's brain, and doesn't actually exist. Thursday had a tattoo placed on the back of her hand to remind herself that Jenny never existed, but needs to track down Aornis in order to put an end to the neverending rollercoaster of emotions that the mindworm and tattoo are causing her.

Got all that? It's really just the tip of the iceberg.

A Jasper Fforde book is always a special kind of book. His creativity has no boundaries and his obvious intelligence and vast knowledge of literature is always evident in his stories.

Read them.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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