I buy most of my books at the used bookstore downtown, and for the most part the books are in excellent condition. That wasn’t so much the case for Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair, whose previous owner must have been a fellow (or gal, though I’m more inclined to think of it as a male) who couldn’t quite figure out how to work a paperback book. The front cover is creased about half an inch from the spine, so that it’s nearly impossible to open the book except at the crease.
This wouldn’t be a problem, except that the book has, you know, pages, and these pages have text on them, and the cover’s crease causes the pages to fold in such a way that part of the text is hidden until you work the page flat again.
This makes for an interesting reading experience.
I’m not using interesting in a positive fashion, either.
You see, the world of The Eyre Affair is a strange one, set in an alternate England where history is different from ours, and it seems to keep changing all the time because there are people who can travel through time to become actual historical revisionists (there is a group of French revisionists who do quite a sloppy job of it, apparently), and characters from books can come out of the pages and into the real world. This results in a narrative where you almost know what’s going on, but not quite. Just like the book’s heroine, Thursday Next.
This is why having to stop to flatten pages at literally every turn is aggravating to no end. When you have to break your concentration to deal with unruly pages, it’s difficult to focus on a strange narrative. It’s like the book is doing its best to reach out and thumb its nose at me. But given the nature of the story, it’s almost appropriate.
I’m not sure if I’m going to finish this book, though, and it’s not because of the pages. I’ve heard wonderful things about the story, and while I can see its charm and appeal, I just don’t find Thursday Next to be likable enough at this stage to go through the next 300 pages. It doesn’t help that the narrative isn’t necessarily in a straight-line fashion, so it can be difficult to keep track of what’s happening to who. Still, I’m going to give it another forty pages or so.
A trial of 100 pages is fair, isn’t it?