Sometimes you find an author who just really gets what he (or she) is doing. One who completely gets that the point of a good story is to entertain, and commits their work to that goal entirely. Among this list are included: Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, Douglas Adams, and Jasper Fforde. While I am a huge fan of all, today I am particularily interested in discussing the last on the list.
My love of Fforde's books started around February of last year, since reading his first in the Thursday Next series, The Eyre Affair, after finishing Jane Eyre for school. I read the rest of the series this past summer, and I quickly realized something: don't even bother trying to explain the plot to anybody. All you'll get is a raised eyebrow, possible supplications to God on the behalf of your sanity, and maybe even a worried inquiry about how long you've been sitting in the sun. So don't even try to explain it. Just make them read the book, too, and then they'll understand :)
This year, I picked up some more of his books: the Nursery Crimes series, starring Detective Jack Spratt, and Sergeant Mary Mary. Upon first observing the cover, and then reading the first few chapters, I was a little confused, because the first book in the series, The Big Over Easy, about the murder of Humpty Dumpty, seemed entirely too familiar. After a few moments of confusion, it hit me:
The summer before I went into the 6th grade, we got a nanny, Miss Lindsay. SHE READ THIS BOOK. In fact, this fantastic woman, who also introduced me to a lot of other great authors, including Jane Austen, whom I love, also introduced me to Jasper Fforde. In fact, I remember her one day, while we were playing with a Slip 'n' Slide, reading the book, and taking notes in the margins. When I asked her why, she told me that she was annotating so a friend of hers, who was going to read the book next, could follow the story a little easier :)
Amazing how some things just come full circle like that, huh?
Anyways, my personal favorite of the Nursery Crimes books is the second (out of two), the Fourth Bear. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not going to even bother trying to explain the plot to you. Just do yourself a favor, and read it :)
(Disclaimer: There is no way you'll be able to appreciate this series completely without having read the Thursday Next series first. Just saying.)