The Well of Lost Plots is the third in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, an alternative history set in Britain at around this time but with a hugely varied history – the Crimean War is still going on, for example. The main feature of these stories is that the line between fiction and reality is very thin and people can actually get into books and interact with the characters. Thursday Next is a literary detective and the first book, The Eyre Affair, shows her, amongst other things, getting into the book Jane Eyre and altering the ending.
I first came across these when we found the first two books in the series in a secondhand bookshop in Oxford a few years ago. At the time I knew nothing of the author, nor of these books, but was immediately interested. After all, how can one resist a book with a heroine called Thursday Next? The whole premise proved to be clever, erudite and funny with dozens of literary allusions and a witty cast of characters. They are not funny in the “laugh out loud” style of, say, Pratchett or Wodehouse, but there is wit and style and a lot of clever writing.
I can strongly recommend these books to any with a love of English literature, as I think they will appreciate the intricate plots and the dozens of intertextual references. And Thursday Next is a very appealing character.
Jasper Fforde has written other books than just this series, and in my opinion the best, and certainly the cleverest is “Shades of Grey”. Before you have apoplexy I must point out that this book predates the more notorious book with a similar title and has absolutely nothing to do with BDSM! It’s a distopian novel set in a world where everything depends on the perception of colour and is a very good read indeed.