It’s Not All Mary Poppins

In Words We Trust…

Today’s SaBloBoMo offering: Jasper Fforde’s “The Well of Lost Plots”.fforde.jpg

In an off-beat word-as-world conceit* Fforde presents a world of books, a place in which characters inhabit their books in a reality discrete from, though related to, the “Outland”. Thursday Next, a woman from the Outland (aka the real world), decides to get away from it all (and she has a LOT to get away from) by living for a year in the plot of an unpublished and probably unpublish-able book in the Well of Lost Plots.

The book is full of fun and frivolous play with the metaphor. We meet “Generics”, characters not yet assigned to a plot; we learn of characters involved in the Character Exchange Program, where bored protagonists get to explore the world of another book; we watch backstories being bartered; we fight Grammasites. In fact, so much silliness is enjoyed this way that you hardly notice a slight thinness in plot from time to time.

I received this book (the third in a series) from a friend. I’ll probably read the others as well – though I’ll take her advice and not read them back-to-back. I suspect she’s quite right when she says “the joke wears a little thin three books in a row”. And when I’m finished, I’ll let my kids read it. All three are avid fans of “The Phantom Tollbooth”, a made-for-kids variation of the same sort of fun; they’ll love this.

*This is for Si, because he always wants to know:

CONCEIT (also called a metaphysical conceit): An elaborate or unusual comparison–especially one using unlikely metaphors, simile, hyperbole, and contradiction. Before the beginning of the seventeenth century, the term conceit was a synonym for “thought” and roughly equivalent to “idea” or “concept.” It gradually came to denote a fanciful idea or a particularly clever remark. In literary terms, the word denotes a fairly elaborate figure of speech, especially an extended comparison involving unlikely metaphors, similes, imagery, hyperbole, and oxymora.

January 29, 2007 - Posted by | books, memes and quizzes


  1. I love the Phantom Tollbooth. I’m putting this on my list of things to read (you know, when I’m done with grad school and can actually read FOR FUN again.)

    Comment by Heath | January 29, 2007 | Reply

  2. I’ve read the Eyre Affair, which I believe is the first in the series and it’s worth chuckle or too.

    Comment by Tricia | January 29, 2007 | Reply

  3. I love the Phantom Tollbooth and give it as gifts as often as possible. I gave it to SwingDaddy twice, by accident.

    I have the Tuesday Next books on my shelf (found them at a huge discount at a close-out sale), but haven’t read them yet. Good to know to leave space in between!

    Comment by Lady M | January 30, 2007 | Reply

  4. I like Fforde – it’s an skew-whiff way of looking at the world which is always good imo:-) I agree that back to back is probably not a good idea – but would definitely suggest reading them in the correct order or you’ll be totally confused!

    Of course, it may help to be English – and have a passing knowledge of Reading. But I’m sure canada must have equivelent towns – soul-less, anonymous and ugly:-)

    Comment by juggling mother | January 30, 2007 | Reply

  5. You are the fourth blogger I read that has moved to WordPress. What’s the draw?

    Comment by redheadmommy | January 30, 2007 | Reply

  6. hmmm – just re-read my comment.

    Reading – (red-ding) the mostly concrete town just to the west of London, England

    not reading, (reed-ding) what you do to books:-)

    Comment by juggling mother | January 31, 2007 | Reply

  7. The Thursday next series was quite enjoyable — we absolutely loved the first one (The Eyre Affair), and while none of the other could match that one, they all had their merits. FWIW, I think The Well of Lost Plots might have been my least favorite.

    Comment by aaron | February 1, 2007 | Reply

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