I don’t usually write about sequels in a series, but the new Thursday Next novel is the best in the series since The Eyre Affair, so I just had to write to let you know how great this book is. Jasper Fforde‘s writing style is such that he fills in enough for a new reader to be able to enjoy the story and get some of Thursday’s background. Of course, you’ll likely get more out it if you’ve read the others, but I think readers could jump in and start with this newest one, and then go back and read the others.
Thursday Next lives in an alternate universe that resembles ours, but with a few significant differences. Time travel is routine, cheese is an illegal substance, and books & literature are taken very, very seriously. Thursday is a literary detective who was semi-retired when the government disbanded SpecOps, a group of highly specialized police forces. But now they are reversing their decision and reinstating the various SpecOps agencies. Thursday is invited to meet with her old boss and thinks she’s about to be offered the job of head of Literary Detection, but instead she’s offered the cushy job of Chief Librarian for the town.
The new job may sound cushy indeed, especially when one considers that libraries in this world have budgets large enough for an employee spa, an executive chef, and armed security to hunt down overdue books, but Thursday’s life is anything but. Aside from having to learn the ins and outs of librarianship, she also has to deal with the evil mega-corporation Goliath trying to replace her with automatons, her son’s discovery that he will murder someone this week in his letter of destiny, and that same day Swindon is scheduled for a smiting by the Almighty. The book covers Thursday’s life over the course of one incredibly busy week, and we get to know her family better than we have before. Will Thursday be able to defeat Goliath’s attempts to replace her with a creation of their own? Can she help Swindon avoid being smited?
Bibliophiles and library lovers will enjoy this book with Fforde’s British wit and obvious love of books. A couple of quotes from this book really made me smile, including this one from Thursday’s first day on her new job, “Do I have to talk to insane people?” “You’re a librarian now. I’m afraid it’s mandatory.” One that is less humorous, but more touching, is the author’s dedication: “To all the librarians who have ever been, ever will be, are now, this book is respectfully dedicated.”