Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review: Lost in a Good Book, by Jasper Fforde

When I first picked up Lost in a Good Book, by Jasper Fforde, I was impressed with the entire premise of the story.  A literary detective who can duck in to fictional stories, dozens of subtle literary references, a lost Shakespearian manuscript... it seemed like a recipe for my kind of book.  While the book was shelved in the "general fiction" section of the Denver library, it is much more accurately classified as fantasy--a genre I tend to enjoy if it's done with even a modicum of skill.  In addition, though I had already read The Eyre Affair, Fforde is thorough enough in the first couple of chapters to make Lost in a Good Book able to stand on its own, story-wise.

Unfortunately, Fforde is often just a little too cute for his own good.  While I appreciate the many literary references, Fforde also peppers the story liberally with too-saccharine details--for example, the villains of the story are Jack Schitt and Schitt-Hawse.  The bumbling pairs of secret agents are Kannon / Phodder, Walken / Dedmen, and Blake / Lambe, among others.  A fictional lawyer speaks with Thursday via the footnotes on the bottom of each page.  Fforde seems intent on proving just how clever he is, while the story drags nearly to a half and I had to quit after about 250 pages.

I therefore regret to say that I wasn't even able to finish this book, and it sat on my bedside table for about a week untouched--far too long for any book that isn't written by Gabriel García Márquez or John Milton, in my opionion.  The only way I could have finished it would have been to zip right through it--thereby missing the very things I appreciated about it in the first place.  I would not recommend this book. At. All.


Enbrethiliel said...


You don't recommend it??? =P I have to say that after your review, I actually want to read it! LOL!

It's your "a little too cute for his own good" comment that will ultimately swing the balance. If he reminds me of Norman Juster, then that's cuteness I can deal with. If he reminds me of Jeff Noon, then I just won't bother.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

You know, I was with him most of the way, but about half-way through the book he got very involved in explaining the ins-and-outs of his universe. It's complex, which is better than too simple, but it got bogged down and I finally just put it aside.

Still, the beginning is very good. :)

Cozy Book Nook said...

I've only read the Erye Affair but it has been a few years. It took awhile to get my bearings reading it but I liked it well enough.

I have a library discard of Lost in a Book-- maybe it wasn't to popular with others either. I will give it a go one of these days but I'm in no hurry.

Simcha said...

I just "discovered" Jasper Fforde last year and he quickly became one of my favorite authors, though I will say that Lost in A Good Book is my least favorite of the series. I enjoyed The Eyre Affair and I absolutely loved Something Rotten. I hope you don't give up on Fforde before giving his other books a try.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

Hi Smicha, thanks for your comment! I remember really enjoying The Eyre Affair, so maybe my expectations were just way too high for Lost in a Good Book. That inevitably leads to disappointment.

Simcha said...

I realized that I was actually mistaken, in my comment above, and I had quite enjoyed Lost in a Good Book. It was The Well of Lost Plots that I didn't like as much.

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