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Book Recommendation: Something Rotten

31. März 2009 - 21:20

For friends of literature and bizarre plots, «Something rotten» offers a broad spectrum from sneaky fictioneers on the run over cheese smuggling scandals to Danish princes on a self-finding trip. Our expert for English literature, Verena, presents «Something Rotten» by Jasper Fforde.

Text by Verena Fischerauer

The Plot

The book is set in two worlds: the bookworld, the universe that exists inside of literature and consists of all the different characters and places that authors have written about in the past.
And the outland, the real world, where everything is basically as we know it but always a little bit different.
With her Lorem Ipsum-blabbering son Friday in tow our heroine Thursday Next chooses to leave the bookworld, where she has been hiding for the last years, and returns once again to her hometown Swindon to get her affaires in order. As a final favor to her co-workers at Jurisfiction, the policing agency inside books, Thursday takes Shakespeare's Hamlet with her on a public relations learning experience in the real world.

All in all, Thursday finds herself, and not for the first time, at the wrong end of a sniper's rifle

Much has changed in the outland and in Swindon in the few years of her forced absence —the Goliath Corporation, a multinational corporation, is planning to branch out from world business into religious world domination. With dodgy book character Yorrick Kaine, a villain who has mysteriously risen to power as right-wing chancellor of England, Next has already made herself a dangerous enemy.
As if that wasn’t enough Swindon's very own patron saint, the foulmouthed St. Zvlkx decides to honor Swindon with his presence, choosing for his big return a shopping centre just as he predicted in his Book of Revealments. St. Zvlkx's Revealments, who up to now have had an uncanny knack of coming true, also predict that the destruction of the Goliath Corporation is inextricably linked to another extremely unlikely event: the win of the Swindon Mallets, the local cricket team, at the upcoming Super Hoop championship.
All in all, Thursday finds herself, and not for the first time, at the wrong end of a sniper's rifle: a deadly hitwoman with a high success rate, who goes by the name of «Windowmaker». Contracted by Yorrick Kaine because of Thursday being one of the few people in the real world who can reveal his true identity and deport him back to the BookWorld, this highly trained killer is not ready to give up too soon. As the octogenarian President of England's death seems only a matter of days, will Thursday find a way to take Yorrick Kaine back to fiction before the Windowmaker finishes her job? But, more importantly, will she succeed in finding a decent day-care for her son?

The Author

Fforde was born in London on the 11th January, 1961. He started out in the film industry, where he kept working for 13 years but always harboured the dream of getting into the literary business. After having received several rejections, his critically acclaimed first novel The Eyre Affaire was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2001. The book became immediately a bestseller, the number of reprints have now reached double figures. After this encouraging experience, Jasper just kept writing and was therefore able to present his second novel Lost in a Good Book to the world in July 2002. As expected, it could build on the amazing success of The Eyre Affaire, The Sunday Times described Fforde as «this year’s grown up JK Rowling».
The third novel in the Thursday Next series is called «The Well of Lost Plots» and was published in the UK in July 2003. Something rotten was then published in august 2004.
The most recent of his Next novels, The first of Sequels hit the bookshelves in July 2008. Today, Jasper lives and writes in Wales and has a passion for aviation.

My Recommendaton

With this fascinating, colourful book Jasper Fforde has created an Eldorado for book-lovers. Peppered with literary allusions, the book does never wear out and can be read and read again. The more background knowledge the reader gains, the more details will he be able to discover. But even without this, the story is so exciting, so intoxicating, that it can be recommended to everyone.
The language is not too difficult, so that 10th graders will probably already find it enjoyable. Even though it might be advisable to start the Thursday Next series with the first book, The Eyre Affaire, to follow all the different strings of the story, after a few pages of Something rotten you will be able to understand what’s going on without problems. So this book is surely the right one for your spring break, or perhaps just your next long weekend. At this point, may the website of Jasper Fforde be recommended. There, you can find background information to the books, explanations to most of the allusions he uses, a «making of» the books, a whole lot of bookworld gadgets and many things more.

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Jasper Fforde, Something rotten, 416 pages, Hodder and Stoughton, ISBN: 0340825952


The author, Jasper Fforde
Foto: cc by-nc-nd von Steve James

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