Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review of The Woman Who Died A Lot

Book #25. The Woman Who Died a Lot, by Jasper Fforde. Unabridged audio.

This is the seventh book in Fforde’s Thursday Next series, and I have read and enjoyed the prior six. As the series have gone on, they have tended to become a little less light-hearted, a little less pun-driven, and a little more serious in terms of the consequences to the characters. This novel continues those trends.

Moving into semi-retirement after her previous adventures in the Book World, legendary enforcement officer Thursday Next takes up the cushy position as Chief Librarian of the Swindon Library service. But semi-retirement is not as easy as it should be for Thursday, as she faces a 100% departmental budget cut, as well as dealing with memories of a child who does not exist. And her two children who do exist have problems of their own. And Swindon is only a few days away from receiving an old-fashioned a smiting from an angry deity. And there is always the Goliath Corporation, always there to cause trouble to the Next clan.

There are still funny moments in this novel, although these are balanced by the saddest and creepiest moments of the series so far. For as wacky as the premise and the world are, the “mind worm” that makes various members of the Next family think they have a daughter that they don’t … that’s rough stuff. And there are other time-travel aspects of loss explored here, in terms of knowing a future that might have been and no longer will be. There are many surprisingly insightful and thought-provoking moments.

Fforde does a very good job keeping the plot moving forward, and handling the intricacies of a story involving time-travel and changing the future. This novel is a fine mix of solid plotting, humorous moments, and high stakes for the world and the characters.

Narrator Emily Gray again delivers an outstanding performing. She knows how to deliver the outrageous funny bits in a matter-of-fact way, allowing Fforde’s words to convey the humor. This approach adds to the absurdist nature of the novel.

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