Thursday Next is the heroine of an alternative twentieth century world. A bold, courageous woman, she has returned from a military career in the Crimean War to take up a post as a Literary Detective. She has the ability to jump in and out of famous books and alarmingly, some of the characters can jump out of their novels, changing the plots. In the first novel of this series Thursday changes the ending of Jane Eyre to the far superior conclusion we are familiar with.
At home in Swindon, Thursday lives with her pet Dodo, Pickwick, wondering what happened to her father, a special operative who may be trapped in another dimension. George Formby is the first president of the English Republic, elected after successful liberation from the Nazis. Thursday’s active life makes relationships hard to maintain but there is romance on the horizon. Her story is full of humour, mishap, heroism and extraordinary situations which particularly appeal to a bookaholic.
I am not sure whether this book is as well known these days but it has to be included in my A to Z of favourite book characters.
The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff. How far had he walked? Nobody knows. Where had he come from? Nobody knows. How was he made? Nobody knows.
Taller than a house, the Iron man stood at the top of the cliff, on the brink, in the darkness.
In my early days of teaching in the 1970s, most primary schools classes read The Iron Man together. The length of a novella and with the essence of a folk tale moved into the 20th century, its unpredictable plot and simple messages appealed to boys and girls alike. As a poet, Ted Hughes was sparing in his words and how much he told his readers. The man made of metal is clearly described but we do not know where he has come from. Because he is eating tractors and farm equipment, the locals dig a large pit and a boy called Hogarth lures the Iron Man into it. But next Spring the Iron Man springs back out, so Hogarth leads him to a heap of scrap metal. They become friends and the Iron Man is accepted by the local community. Subsequently the Iron Man meets a “Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon” and together they help to restore harmony and peace amongst mankind.
“Haven’t you heard of the music of the spheres?” asked the dragon. “It’s the music that space makes to itself. All the spirits inside all the stars are singing. I’m a star spirit. I sing too. The music of the spheres is what makes space so peaceful.”
“He smiled at Bradamant dazzlingly. Irene felt a little of the overspill of it, the burning surge of slavish desire and passionate adoration, and felt the brand across her back burn like raw ice in reaction. She also felt a quick burst of relief that apparently Silver hadn’t recognised her as a Library agent. She was still incognito for the moment.”
My current read is tremendous fun, a steampunk romp through an alternative world with Irene, a strong-minded, intelligent Librarian solving a crime while on a mission to take a precious Fairy Tale book back to the Invisible Library. While mentoring a handsome, but troubling assistant she finds she also has to deal with her bitterest personal enemy and a dangerous foe who is trying to kill her. It is a fascinating novel, filled with humour, danger, adventure and mystery -all the right ingredients. And there are three more books to follow!
Genevieve Cogman got started on Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes at an early age, and has never looked back. But on a perhaps more prosaic note, she has an MSC in Statistics with Medical Applications and has wielded this in an assortment of jobs: clinical coder, data analyst and classifications specialist. Although The Invisible Library is her debut novel, she has also previously worked as a freelance roleplaying game writer. Genevieve Cogman’s hobbies include patchwork, beading, knitting and gaming, and she lives in the north of England.