Reading guide for Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

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Something Rotten

A Thursday Next mystery

By Jasper Fforde

Something Rotten
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2004,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2005,
    416 pages.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Introduction to Something Rotten

With her Lorem Ipsum-spouting son, Friday, in tow, Thursday returns to her Swindon home to resume her quest to reactualize her husband, Landen Parke-Laine. As a final favor to her Jurisfiction colleagues, Thursday also escorts Shakespeare's Hamlet on a public relations field trip to the real world so he can ponder why he has been misrepresented as a "ditherer."

Much has changed in Swindon since she left—the Goliath Corporation has branched out from corporate domination into religious domination, rogue book character Yorrick Kaine has mysteriously risen to power as right-wing chancellor of England, and thirteenth-century saints are resurrecting themselves all over the country. Swindon's very own patron saint, the foulmouthed St. Zvlkx, returns to Swindon in front of a shopping center just as he predicted in his Book of Revealments. St. Zvlkx's uncannily precise Revealments also predict that the downfall of the mighty Goliath corporation is inextricably linked to a seemingly impossible Swindon Mallets win at the upcoming SuperHoop championship.

Upon her return, Thursday finds herself at the wrong end of a sniper's rifle. Her would-be assassin turns out to be a deadly hitwoman who goes by the name the Windowmaker and also happens to be her good friend Spike's wife. Thursday suspects that Yorrick Kaine has contracted for the Windowmaker's services, because Thursday is one of the few people in the real world who can reveal his true identity and deport him back to the BookWorld. Kaine seems to have the entire country under his spell, and even Thursday finds herself being charmed into confusion by his unnatural charisma. Kaine and his conniving pals at Goliath will stop at nothing to make sure St. Zvlkx's prediction doesn't come true. As the octogenarian President of England's death draws near, Thursday must find a way to take Yorrick Kaine back to fiction before the Windowmaker takes her out of action. 



Reading Guide
  1. After two years of being head of Jurisfiction, Thursday decides that she needs to return to the real world. What are her reasons for returning to the real world? What does the real world have to offer her that the BookWorld does not?

  2. Is Hamlet a "ditherer"? Is he the most indecisive character in Shakespeare? Why do people find him so fascinating? What are his "inner motivations"?

  3. Thursdsay explains the imaginotransference technology of books to Hamlet by saying, "Well, each interpretation of an event, setting, or character is unique to each of those who read it because they clothe the author's description with the memory of their own experiences." Do you agree with this statement? What characteristics do the best novels have in common? Is the readers' ability to connect the characters to their personal lives the most important aspect?

  4. In this alternate reality, the politically ambitious Yorrick Kaine chooses Denmark as the totally improbable scapegoat for all of England's ailments, in order to deflect attention from the real issues plaguing the country. Politicians have faux debates on a show called Evade the Question Time. Is this satirical bit an overly cynical view of government or a social commentary based on truth?

  5. Why does Granny Next decide to serve her sentence living in young Thursday's time? Without her help, how would Thursday's life have played out differently?

  6. Why do Stig and his Neanderthal comrades agree to play for the Swindon Mallets? What does the Neanderthal community have at stake? Why is this important to them?

  7. Goliath has become a corporate religion, complete with professional apologists. Is this more or less frightening than its previous incarnation as a multinational, omnipotent corporation? What does Goliath gain from re-actualizing Landen Parke-Laine, Thursday's previously eradicated husband?

  8. In a character battle such as the one that Kaine and the Cat formerly known as Cheshire fight, the battling possibilities are endless. What characters would you call upon to fight for you?
  9. Though Thursday and her father are in very different lines of work—he's a ChronoGuard officer and she's a Jurisfiction officer—both police the progression of time and fiction in order to preserve the integrity of the outcome. Are time and fiction linear? What are the similarities and differences between their two lines of work?
  10. Does Thursday have the right to escape death by trading places with Cindy? Is there such a thing as fate in Thursday's world, a world in which ChronoGuard officers police history and the almost dead may escape "the way station of Southside"?

For more information about other Penguin Readers Guides, please call the Penguin Marketing Department at (800) 778-6425, email at reading@penguinputnam.com or write to us at: Penguin Books, Marketing Department CC, Readers' Guides, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3657

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Penguin. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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