Jasper Fforde,
The Well of Lost Plots
(Viking, 2004)

Jasper Fforde's The Well of Lost Plots continues the adventures of "literary" agent Thursday Next.

Pregnant and in need of a break, Thursday decides to stay in Bookworld and participate in Jurisfiction's Character Exchange program. Along with her faithful dodo Pickwick, she takes up residence in a houseboat in an unpublished crime novel, Caversham Heights, playing the part of Mary, the detective's sidekick; the book is one of the many languishing in the Well of Lost Plots, the sub-basement of the Great Library, and is considered so far beyond repair that it is in danger of being reduced to text.

She's still an apprentice agent, assigned to the formidable Miss Havisham, and in between bouts of morning sickness, she's still on the job as she prepares for full certification. Granny Next has shown up to help her with the memory worm that Aornis Hades has planted in her mind; it's eradicating not only every memory of her missing husband Landen but her other memories as well. Apart from gut-wrenching morning sickness and impending trial for her literary infraction, Thursday is doing as well as can be expected. But when someone starts murdering Jurisfiction agents, Thursday goes on the defensive, no longer knowing whom she can trust as she tries to find the killer.

As in Fforde's other books, The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots is a fast-paced and wildly funny romp in an alternate earth where books really matter. Literary allusions abound, and the more versed a reader is, the funnier it gets. My reactions ranged from a delighted grin of recognition to laughing aloud. And it's not just literature that gets a gentle poke; cultural allusions abound as well, such as the "footnoterphone," a communication device that becomes clogged with Anna Karenina, not to mention spam, or the various "operating systems" that allow one to read a book. At the same time, Fforde doesn't sacrifice substance for style and ensures that the story and plot are more than a handful of highbrow jokes.

Just like modern DVDs, The Well of Lost Plots has a special features section at Fforde's scrumptious website -- but you'll have to read the book to get the password. I'm not telling!

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 3 April 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.