The premise of this book is hard to explain, but it revolves around a character called Thursday Next living in an alternative version of 1988 where various fictional characters (many of them being from Shakespeare) have come to exist in real life, and the plot revolves around the cloning of Shakespeare and a plot to take over the world. There is also a plot involving the fact that Thursday’s husband has been eradicated from history, which is the cause of much of the pathos involved in the plot.
That’s really about all I can say about the plot, which actually comes across as very complex because of the fast-paced way in which the book is written, and there is a lot of humour, mostly about incidents involving characters from other books – “Montague and Capulet drive-by shootings”, for example, and there are lots of other literary jokes scattered around; the book seems to be largely influenced by Douglas Adams, Monty Python and even Lewis Carroll. A lot of humour is also very British, with its quirkiness.
I also liked the comments made on the conventions of fiction too, including an event that happens for absolutely no reason, because only in fiction must everything make sense, and at one point the characters break the fourth wall by mentioning the people reading about them.
Because the book seems quite complex, you will probably want to read it carefully because often if you miss a small detail, you’ll end up wondering what on earth is going on, and I didn’t exactly get it until my second read through the book, but in the end I felt that it was worth the effort, although at one point I was confused when the first-person narration switched suddenly at one point from Thursday to another character.
Overall, this is very cleverly written, and incredibly highbrow, so I would recommend it if you’re a scholarly type.
Next book: The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett)