Guest Post: 7 Reasons To Read The Thursday Next Books By Jasper Fforde
Today, the 7 Reasons sofa sees the return of former guest writer Rachel Simmonite. She has many important things to say so I won’t keep you long. Just to say, when you’ve read today’s post head over to Rachel’s blog. It’s full of interesting things about rugby. Right, here’s Rachel.
My guest posts for this blog seem to come about on an annual basis, but I’m determined to make them more like buses. So, in the first of what might or might not be three guest posts, I am writing 7Reasons to read the Thursday Next books, which are written by the genius that is Jasper Fforde.
It was a trip to Hay-on-Wye, that place of the second hand bookshops and delicious Welsh Cakes, and a trip to the Guardian Hay Festival where I first spotted the first book in the Thursday Next series: The Eyre Affair. I don’t know why I was drawn to it, there were loads of other (brand new) books in the makeshift store. Maybe it was fate? I picked up the book and read the blurb, followed by the first paragraph. I always do that, if it passes the blurb test then it has to go to the first paragraph test and then I will buy it. I noticed that it was a series, I think only a couple of them had come out by then so I went and bought both. I do like to stick with a series. Unfortunately the only series error I’ve made was with the Twilight books, and that was a serious series error. But I digress.
I got home and started reading. I was hooked. Two books read in two days (it was the school holidays, it’s allowed). And if that’s not enough persuasion to go out and buy them I don’t know what is. Well, apart from these seven reasons obviously. Here they are:
1. They make Swindon look cool. I’ve been to Swindon. I’ve experienced Swindon. (Okay so I’ve only experienced a pub there) And it’s not cool. But the Swindon in the Thursday Next books is really really cool. It’s the epicentre of all the chaos and activity that happens in the books, a change from those great literary destinations such as London and Oxford. For such a plain place, Fforde brings out the fun that Swindon could still yet have. Who knows, maybe the parallel Fforde Swindon and real Swindon could merge and we’d get this…
2. George Formby is the President. Yes, he of Leaning on a Lamp Post and playing the ukulele fame,is the President of England. Oh and the Crimean War is still going on. In 1985. Wales is a socialist republic. You have huge taxes on cheese (I don’t know how I could have coped with that) and illegal smuggling of it across the country. There are dodos and Neanderthals too and even the odd mammoth migration too.
3. The Debate Over Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays Is Bigger Than The “Who Shot Phil Mitchell?” Storyline In Eastenders. Did William Shakespeare really write all those plays and sonnets? Or was it Christopher Marlowe? Could it have been Francis Bacon? How about the Earls of Oxford or Derby? All have good claims to Shakespeare’s plays. Some people in the Thursday Nextbooks are obsessed with this to the point that it can cause violence. Shakespeare is not just the scourge of the English student in these books, he’s extremely popular, and not just when well known actors are acting his plays in the theatre!
4. If You Don’t Watch Out You’ll Miss The Puns. You have to read the Thursday Next books very closely as they’re full of puns. There are character names like Landen Parke-Laine (London Park Lane) and Braxton-Hicks along with the more obvious Agents Chalk and Cheese. Millon de Floss writes Thursday’s biography. I’m not telling you all of the other ones; you will have to read the books to find them out for yourself! I might not have found them all! It gives you an excuse to read them again to try and spot more of them, that and the books are just great so you’ll want to read them again anyway.
5. Despite The Weirdness It Still Has All The Typical Generic Subplots. There’s the romance between Thursday and Landen, which has its ups and downs and general drama. Thursday has eccentric family members from the father who doesn’t really exist, the fussy mother, the religious brother and the aunt and uncle who out smart just about everybody. There’s the big bad guy, Acheron Hades, an even bigger bad guy with a huge corporation behind him. Plus there’s the multi-coloured Porsche. Eat your heart out James Bond.
6. There’s An Alternate World In The Parallel World. Yes, I’m being serious. So Nextian Swindon is a parallel world of real Swindon, but also in Nextian Swindon, our main character can go into the world of books. Pretty mind boggling, but you’ll get used to it. You might even get used to the thought of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations breaking land speed records, or the fact that the characters aren’t really allowed into the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Having studied Poe this can only be a good thing. The book world does come across as being really fun, it makes you wish that books are really written that way, maybe they are? Who knows?
7. Your celebrities? Not Reality TV Stars But Literary Figures Or Figures In Literature. It’s like the good old days, people aren’t famous for being famous, they actually have to do something first. In the case of the celebrities in the Thursday Next books they have to be written. The hero worship never seems to be stopping, with people changing their names to their favourites, but they have to have a number afterwards due to the multiple numbers of them. You don’t see people nowadays changing their names to Jordan or Kerry Katona, but you will see Anne Hathaways in these books.