Finally! I’m finished with The Eyre Affair! I felt like it took FOREVER. This was partly because I was listening to it on audio while I did housework–but also because I’ve discovered that audio books only take me forever to finish if I don’t like them. When I do enjoy an audio book, like Shannon Hale’s Book of a Thousand Days, I speed right through it. This was not Book of a Thousand Days. Not even close. I didn’t enjoy the vast majority of it, despite literary and historical references galore and lots of not-so-subtle criticisms of the military industrial complex, its interrelationship with the government, and how those relationships leads to violence and injustice almost inevitably. It just wasn’t enough to salvage the book for me.
I’m honestly not sure why I ever thought I would enjoy this book. Maybe it was a recommendation from a friend, and/or I liked the idea of constant literary references. I do not like time travel concepts, and it turns out I don’t like stories that mess with classic works of literature either; if I had realized exactly how much of this book involved those elements, I probably wouldn’t have read it in the first place.
Thursday herself wasn’t bad, although the Jerry Springer Show-esque drama with Landon and Daisy got really old really fast. Up til then, I’d respected Thursday, at least, as a competent agent and decent person. But the continual drama and petty inconsistent behavior she developed whenever he was around was annoying, and didn’t necessarily fit well with the rest of her behavior. Frankly, I preferred two other male characters in the book to Landon: her partner, whose name I can’t remember (Yes, the book is that memorable.) or Spike, the paranormal agent. They both seemed like fun, decent guys and way more interesting than an old fiance who’d dimed out her dead brother.
Also, the literary references ended up being less fun than I expected. A world that is more obsessed with literary characters than our current world is with Hollywood and musical celebrities and professional athletes? The idea sounds like a breath of fresh air. In reality, militant Baconians, the constant debate over the true author of Shakespeare’s works, constant productions of Shakespeare plays, huge tourism industries based around original literature manuscripts, etc–it all got really old really fast, and started to feel cutesy, cloying, annoying, and tiresome.
The book felt very dated. I know it was set in the 1980s, in an alternate UK, but the technology referenced definitely dated the book. And some of the “futuristic” technology mentioned throughout the story seemed not only dated but also distracting and not germane to the plot (pet dodos? really?) The villain was over the top–almost a spoof of a really evil villain. And I hated how, after half the book written from Thursday’s perspective, suddenly random chapters were written from the perspectives of other characters. The quotations at the beginning of each chapter from various characters from the story could be equally confusing, at least in audio format.
I could keep on grumbling, but I won’t. I don’t necessarily think that this was a poorly written book. It was just not a good book for me. I doubt I’d ever willingly read anything by this author again, and I won’t be recommending it to anyone else.