The Woman Who Died a Lot - Jasper Fforde

<i>The Woman Who Died A Lot</i> is the seventh book in the <i>Thursday Next</i> series and proves to be another enjoyable visit to the book-obsessed alternate Earth of Swindon, where the enforcement arm of the Library Service agitates for permission to conduct dawn raids to retrieve overdue books, and all of the Service’s members would die to protect any book in the library (except for “those bloody awful Emperor Zhark novels and anything written by Daphne Farquitt”). There are a number of stories going on in the novel: The Literary Detective division of Special Operations is being reactivated; the demise of the ChronoGuard has left Friday – Thursday’s son – without a purpose in life; Tuesday – Thursday’s brilliant daughter – is trying to perfect her Anti-Smite Shield in time to deflect God’s Wrath from downtown Swindon; Aornis Hades continues to exact revenge for the death of her brother Acheron; and the odious Goliath Corporation continues to plot to control everything. Above all, however, Thursday struggles with middle age and the terrifying idea that her best days are behind her.

 

You need to read the previous novels before tackling this one but if you’ve enjoyed the earlier books, you’ll like this one, so it’s a strong thumb’s up for series fans; and I would recommend the entire run for someone looking for reasonably intelligent, literature-themed brain candy with just enough <i>gravitas</i> to make you care about the characters.

 

Though they’re horribly dated (esp. in terms of the female characters), I guardedly recommend L. Sprague de Camp’s and Fletcher Pratt’s The Complete Compleat Enchanter, a collection of the authors’ <i>Harold Shea</i> stories, which also play with the idea of real-world characters reading themselves into fictional worlds.