Review: The Big Over Easy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall...

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall...
But was it an accident? Suicide? Or was it murder?

Jasper Fforde takes us into the extraordinary town of Reading where Nursery Crimes are prevalent, but irrelevant to the upper bosses of the police force. Saddled with a new partner, Sergeant Mary Mary (who can be quite contrary), DCI Jack Spratt must navigate the murky waters of political diplomacy, investigating the crime of a giant playboy egg, and fatherhood all while struggling to make it into the Detectives Guild - a high ranking honor which would nab him some of the best cases and some much needed good publicity! That is, if he could stop killing giants long enough to balance it all. Oh, did I mention there is an alien named Ashley who works for the Nursery Crime Division? His native tongue is binary.

As a writer, I am blown away by Fforde's creativity and ability to lace together such a thick, entertaining plot involving nursery rhymes most commonly remembered in Great Britain. Perhaps, as an American, I was at a disadvantage for this fact, but I was readily willing to trust that what I didn't understand, the references which didn't connect with me, were regional for his neck of the woods and so fit along with the story.

It's a hard book to put down and a series (The Fourth Bear is the follow up) which I am eagerly awaiting the third installment. Fforde has much on his plate, though, with the Thursday Next series, Shades of Grey, and the Last Dragonslayer so I won't be holding my breath too long for a novel about the Tortoise and the Hare - the rigged race! However, I'm a loyal reader, hook - line - and sinker - so I imagine I'll be picking up another series of his soon. With titles such as: The Woman Who Died A lot, First Among Sequels, and The Well of Lost Plots, how can you not be intrigued?!

Perhaps I'll start with The Eyre Affair.

Review: Jane Eyre

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I only recently discovered Jane Eyre and by recently I mean within the last few years. I acquired my edition (not the one pictured) of the novel printed "under wartime conditions" as a third edition from a used book store for a few dollars. The binding is blue cloth, the pages aged yellow and thick and it sat on my bookshelf for about a year. It wasn't that I was avoiding it so much as I had an overall disinterest in the "classics" which I considered Jane Eyre to be. There came a day, though, when I had nothing else to read and so the book made its way into my hands. Once the cover was opened I was trapped; sucked into a world unknown to me. Enthralled by the opening chapter of child abuse and neglect, curiosity, and fear, a defiant child already self-affirmed in who she was I lamented in having to put the book aside for our present day reality.

I have since read it three times yet it is never far from my nightstand. It gets better with age and with each reading your appreciation will grow for characters and author. It didn't take long for me to become completely obsessed in finding a movie adaptation which would satisfy and honor it adequately. The 2011 version comes mighty close and who can complain of Michael Fassbender's Mr. Rochester? No one.

While this may strike you as a love story at first, I encourage you to look deeper into the character of Jane. Charlotte Bronte has done a magnificent job at portraying a life of sharp corners and hard tongues in which a young woman is created as one of the strongest, most thought provoking heroines I have ever read. With exacting self-control and unwavering connection with her inner self Jane inspires me almost on the daily to be strong and true to who I am. If such a character can endure so much compared to my so little; who am I to waver? THAT is what this novel can do.

I won't ruin it for you, but her speech to Mr. Rochester in a moment of truth is just stunning. They are words I wish I had written. This level of writing is that which I strive to be able to mimic. It's absolutely brilliant.