The Well of Lost Plots: A Thursday Next Novel
Viking, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Nina de Angeli
regnant and pursued by power-mad Goliath, Inc. for her knowledge of book-jumping, Thursday Next takes a leave from her job of tracking down literary criminals in Fforde's alternate 1980s Britain. She escapes into the Well of Lost Plots, the breeding ground for all of fiction, where generic characters develop personalities at St. Tabularasa School and thugs sell bootlegged plot devices. While hiding in an unpublished crime novel to await her baby's arrival, she must fight memory thief Aornis Hades, who worms into Thursday's dreams to steal precious recollections of her eradicated husband.
or a day job, Thursday apprentices as a Jurisfiction code enforcer within the fictional world. She helps Miss Havisham (she of
) track down a bloodthirsty Minotaur escapee from a mythological tale, seek the killer of another Jurisfiction agent, and fend off an attack of deadly verb-sucking grammasites. Thursday faces life-threatening dangers from a rogue Jurisfiction agent and the dread misspelling virus, which turns her gun into a piece of gum and the floor into flour under her feet. Other characters fear oblivion in the Text Sea, where really bad novels and their inhabitants, condemned to dissolution by the Council of Genres, float as disconnected letters. Fforde's inventive wackiness once again brings us new characters adapted from major works of the literary canon, notably this time Heathcliff from
, in an anger management therapy session.
espite the dangers, living in an unpublished novel has its advantages: All the boring day-to-day mundanities that we conduct in the real world get in the way of narrative flow and are thus generally avoided. For example, the car didn't need refueling, and vacuum cleaner bags came in only two sizes - upright and pull along. Other post-modern satirical twists include the footnoter phone, an ubiquitous communication device in the BookWorld. A footnote number pops up in a dialogue, the visual equivalent of a cell phone beep, and the character receives a message via footnote at the bottom of the page, just as annoying as real cell phone interruptions.
forde succeeds brilliantly in creating a surrealistic world that both parodies and pays tribute to literary storytelling. The dizzying pace of the book feels like websurfing through a huge library with
Alice in Wonderland
as your guide. Enjoy!
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