Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction to The Eyre Affair
Masterpiece Theatre meets James Bond in The Eyre Affair, the first
novel in Jasper Fforde's cheeky sleuth series featuring a book-loving,
gun-toting, wit-slinging heroine named Thursday Next. In Thursday's world, an
alternate version of 1985 London, literature rules popular cultureaudiences
enact and participate in Richard III for Friday-night fun, thousands of visitors
make literary pilgrimages to gawk at original manuscripts, and missionaries
travel door-to-door heralding Francis Bacon as the true Bard.
The mysterious theft of the Martin Chuzzlewit original manuscript from
the Dickens Museum catalyzes Thursday's transformation from humble library cop
into intrepid literature savior. When Thursday's eccentric uncle Mycroft and
aunt Polly are kidnapped along with their Prose Portal, an ingenious device that
allows readers to physically enter the world of any book, the SpecOps literary
division uncovers a dastardly plot to kidnap and murder characters from
everyone's favorite novels. The criminal operation is helmed by Acheron Hades,
the third most evil man in the world, a supreme villain who bends minds, shifts
shapes, and remains impervious to most mortal weapons. Thursday and her SpecOps
cohorts' mission to capture their slippery adversary is further complicated by
the meddling of the pointedly named Jack Schitt, the despotic head of security
at the hegemonic Goliath Corporation, whose investment in Hades' capture seems
suspect. And when the perpetrators dare to steal the original Jane Eyre,
Thursday must race to save one of the most beloved characters in English
literatureand Brontë's classic love story itselffrom eradication.
If you could jump right into any novel with Ms. Nakajima, which novel
would you choose to visit? What classic novel endings have left you
unsatisfied? What endings would you change if you had the power to do so?
Acheron Hades claims that pure evil is as rare as pure good. Do you think
either exists in our world?
Two of the main plot devicestime travel and book jumpingillustrate
the infinite possibilities of alternate endings. If you could travel through
time, is there anything in history, either in the broad sense or in your own
personal history, that you would go back and revise?
If you could choose Ms. Nakajima's ability to jump into novels, Thursday's
father's ability to travel through time, or Acheron Hades' ability to defy
mortality, which power would you choose to have and why?
Despite the fact that he is her one true love, Thursday holds a grudge
against Landen Parke-Laine for over ten years because he betrayed her
brother when they returned from the Crimean War. Whom do you think
Thursday's first allegiance should have been to, her lover or her brother?
Do you think her decision to return to Landen comes out of weakness or
In the hands of villains like Jack Schitt and Acheron Hades, the Prose
Portal could be exploited for villainous deeds, but it could also have been
used to do good deeds such as producing a cure for terminal diseases. Would
you choose to destroy the Prose Portal as Mycroft does without trying to
extract good use out of it first? Do you think the risk of the destruction
it could cause outweighs the possibilities for good?
Thursday's brother, the very Irreverend Joffy, tells her, "The first
casualty of war is always truth." Do you think this is true? Why or why
Thursday says, "All my life I have felt destiny tugging at my sleeve.
Few of us have any real idea what it is we are here to do and when it is
that we are to do it. Every small act has a knock-on consequence that goes
on to affect those about us in unseen ways. I was lucky that I had so clear
a purpose." In a world where time is so pliable, can there be such a
thing as destiny? Was there a defining moment in your life when you
understood what your own purpose was?
Who is the worse villain, Acheron Hades or Jack Schitt? Which sentence do
you think is worsedeath by a silver bullet to the heart or an eternity
trapped in Poe's "The Raven"?
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