Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Book review: One of our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

The sixth book in the Thursday Next Series – One of our Thursdays is Missing – follows a very similar pattern and style to the previous books. A bizarre opening scene leads to a progressively more complex and intricately-woven plot that is explained brilliantly in the final chapters with the goodies getting a satisfying ending, the baddies getting some form of comeuppance, liberally lavished all over with conspiracy theories, evil empires, politics, puns and innumerable literary gags and references.

In One of our Thursdays is Missing, Thursday Next goes…missing…and the plot instead revolves around the fictional Thursday who, thanks to her character/body assimilation looks exactly like the real Thursday, causing confusion to all who meet her. Fictional Thursday must find real Thursday in a matter of days; otherwise the Bookworld will be the scene of a horrendous and fictionally-bloody genre war. Characters and references to the previous 5 Thursday books abound and it’s a delightful for a fan like myself to be treated to so many in-jokes. I love Fforde’s intelligent but off-beat sense of humour, though sometimes I find him just laugh-out-loud funny, such as this paragraph when Thursday visits The Lady of Shallot:

The Lady of Shalott was of an indeterminate age and might once have been plain before the rigours of artistic interpretation for working on her. This was the annoying side of the Feedback Loops; irrespective of how she had once looked or even wanted to look, she was now a pre-Raphaelite beauty with long flaxen tresses, flowing white gowns and a silver forehead band. She wasn't the only one to be physically morphed by Reader Expectation. Miss Havisham was now elderly whether she liked it or not and Sherlock Holmes wore a deerstalker and smoked a ridiculously large pipe. The problem wasn't just confined to the classics. Harry Potter was seriously pissed of that he'd have to spend the rest of his life looking like Daniel Radcliffe.

John William Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott.

I could believe that some Jasper Fforde readers might get tired of the plot patterns that one sees repeated from book to book. I myself bought One of our Thursdays is Missing many months ago but have only just picked it off the shelf, whereas I once devoured Fforde’s novels as soon as they appeared. That being said, I am not one who is going to complain about Fforde’s now quite usual plot line and style. I love it. I own and have read every novel he’s published and I will continue to purchase them without question. I love the truly bizarre conspiracy theories and plot twists. The strange characters, the gags, the fake ads in the back of the book.

Book reviews compare Fforde to Terry Pratchett or Monty Python and I can certainly see the similarities in the humour and in the construction of alternative worlds that are so beautifully and intricately described you find yourself becoming involved.

For me, the Bookworld is so well-described and so well-known by now that I actually feel bad about putting the book down because the characters are no longer being read anymore. I also get to feel a lovely warm glow of smugness when I get one of the literary references.

I recommend One of our Thursdays is Missing – just read the first 5 books in the series before you begin.

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