The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde, discussion questions

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?

I would jump into; Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott. I don’t know about any having left me particularly dissatisfied, I quite like the ending of Little Women, but then I have the UK version which means it’s only part 1. when it was published in the USA Little Women includes the second book, part 2, Good Wives and I don’t like that book as much because of some of the things that happen in it. I find in general that a lot of ‘the classics’ I have read don’t stay with me, so it would be hard to say whether or not I would change the endings, although, as it happens, I do like Jane Eyre

• Acheron Hades claims that pure evil is as rare as pure good. Do you think either exists in our world?

No. Nothing is that black and white or simplistic, surely even the most horrible of people have some capacity for redemption? Although maybe that is my inference upon them, my lack of ability to comprehend that somebody might not be redeemable. Same as nobody can uphold the stigma of being ‘good’ for their entire lifetime. I can accept that some are more inherently ‘good’ and some are ‘bad’ but not in such a pure format as Acheron would suggest. Even truly bad people are often acting out of belief or on behalf of someone else or their country, even if others never asked that of them. I don’t think I can stomach the idea that someone might be utterly ‘evil’, or fully comprehend that idea for that matter.

• Two of the main plot devices—time travel and book jumping—illustrate 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?

Yes, and I would only be able to change it if when I travelled back in time I have the self knowledge that I have now, otherwise I know, given the same information I would do exactly the same thing again. I would make sure I told my Dad that I lied when I said I know longer need him, that I didn’t need a father. I would make sure he knew that it was only because I was hurt that I said otherwise and that before he died I would apologise and make sure he knew I loved him. It sounds melodramatic when said out loud but it’s what I told him and I live with the fact that that’s probably what he thought of me. It’s not his bad thinking of me that bothers me, it’s that he thought he wasn’t needed by me, wasn’t wanted. That’s what keeps me awake. He deserved better, he was a good man and I was young and impulsive and thought he didn’t trust me, so I turned on him first.

• 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?

Definitely Mrs Nakajima’s power to novel jump. Simply due to the fact that books are my passion and my obsession, therefore it would seem fitting to be able to embrace that in a more all encompassing way, also there are so many books that I have read that I pictured so clearly, I would like to know how accurate I might have been. Adversely there are those that I could barely see at all when I was reading them, though I enjoyed them nonetheless, it would be nice to add some clarification in those instances. Ultimately I would love to work for Jurisfiction.

• 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 strength?

First allegiance to her brother… I think her return to Landen was sign of strength as it involved a big leap in trust and it takes a bigger person than most are capable of being to forgive a perceived, or not, indiscretion and this is what makes it such a strength.

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?

I think if you left it running and tried to use it only for good, ultimately either the user or an outside user will eventually use it other wise, the temptation would be too great, not to much the feeling if omnipotence gained from being able to cure terminal diseases etc. I think in theory, somewhat like communism, it would be an amazing piece of kit to give to humanity but I think sooner or later that need to use it for good will wear off and then where are you? Who says what is for the good of the people? Someone might think that arming their army in a war against someone else would be a ‘good thing’ for the country/people they are protecting, but can that ever be justified, is it ever going to be acceptable to do so? Can you justify that action as good in comparison to curing AIDS for example? I don not think it would stay as an innocent piece of equipment for very long.

• 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 not?

Truth, trust…honesty and innocence, I think they are the first things that are lost in a war. Also they are the most important. Loss of life is appalling and irreparable but the truth and innocence are elements that can make or break a nation, they can never be back tracked. Look at the war in Iraq… we are still there… why precisely? Why did we even go in the first place? So Blair could side with one of the so-called ‘super powers’ and make it feel like our country was big fish? We are not big fish and we never will be, we are a tiny subservient lapdog of a country who wants to be at least hanging onto the tailcoat of those who are successful. As a country I feel we are failing, we have poor leadership we are no longer even remotely self-sufficient. We piss off just one of our sources of imports and we are royally screwed, they can gang together and refuse to import to that tiny annoying island. We would not survive, because we, as a country, have made ourselves believe that it lowers us to provide our own food, that it lowers our standing to be self-sufficient as a nation. If WWII had happened today we would starve far quicker than we would have in the 40’s and it came pretty close then, it was only the US bailing us out that meant we didn’t. (Ooh, rant, rant, rant, rant, rant.)

• 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?

I have not yet had a defining moment of purpose, I have long ‘moments’ (if considered within the idea of a lifespan, they are moments, not that it happens so infrequently) where I am happy and satisfied that I am doing what I should be doing right now, but that does not mean that I think my current being is necessarily where I am going to end up. Just because time is pliable does not necessarily negate the idea of destiny… I suppose whether or not you believe in destiny might…

Who is the worse villain, Acheron Hades or Jack Schitt? Which sentence do you think is worse—death by a silver bullet to the heart or an eternity trapped in Poe’s “The Raven”?

Jack Schitt was the worst villain. He had little remorse; he was entirely human and morally irreprehensible. The Raven was a most apt punishment, and a pretty non-violent and amusing one from a reader’s point of view.

Do weigh in folks, whether you’ve read the novel or not… if you haven’t I thoroughly recommend it and it’s current sequels.

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About Nerdsbian

I am a nerd for ALL seasons. I am a genderqueer Librarian who unsurprisingly likes reading...a lot But I love being outside too...sometimes even reading at the same time. Also animals, any and all of them. Never yet met one that didn't get on with me and vice versa. I do a couple of different voluntary jobs (animal charity related) and have recently completed my MA.
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