I have to admit, I’m a little rusty on my Thursday Next. The last time I read one of the books, it was in 2006, and The Well of Lost Plots was just coming out as a hardcover. Now, here I am, five years later, and I’m having to do some catching up. It’s well worth it, though, for the world of Thursday Next is one richly filled with all sorts of literary delights.
We start off pretty close to where Lost in a Good Book leaves off. Thursday is hiding within the Well of Lost Plots to protect her unborn child, the product of a marriage to a man who never existed. She finds a place to stay within an unpublished mystery novel, taking the place of one of the secondary characters. The book is not doing well, and Thursday tries to provide a little help before it gets pulled apart for its words.
Thursday is also being trained, by Miss Havisham, to become a literary enforcement agent. She goes through some pretty grueling training, which can also be amusing — Miss Havisham leads a group therapy session for the characters from Wuthering Heights, which Thursday tags along to. We then get to see what happens in between the pages, which, for Wuthering Heights, basically means that everyone spends their time hating Heathcliff.
Here is one of the great things about the Thursday Next series: it’s for people who love to read. Not just love to read, but love to read novels. Not just love to read novels, but love to read those books that are considered great literature. Fforde takes the characters from big books, like Great Expectations or Jane Eyre, and puts his own take on what their personalities are into his versions of them. It’s really nice … for those of us who have read the books he’s referencing.
This is, thus, one of the biggest downfalls of Fforde’s books, too — you have to be a complete book nerd to get every little thing he puts in. Otherwise, the only things you’re going to understand are the puns, and that’s no way to go through a book. A person’s literary well-being can’t be sustained on puns alone.
Fforde does have a very lovable writing style. His inner circle of characters are pretty well-rounded, and I enjoy the world he has created where foundering books are in a well far below the library of all fiction created (at least, in English). I think that many well-exposed readers would really enjoy the Thursday Next series; if one doesn’t, I think The Well of Lost Plots has very limited appeal. Maybe, though, it’s an incentive to read books that are over ten years old — I know I haven’t read Wuthering Heights, and I think maybe it’s about time I do.