Our friend Jennifer recommended this the other week.
Initially I put this book into the same category as The Yiddish Policemen’s Union — which is to say, tough competition. And, while enjoyable, The Eyre Affair is not really up to the same standard; the writing is decent but not popping, the ideas are fun but, after a while, perhaps a bit obvious.
By midway through I decided that this book fits more into the genre of The Hitchhiker’s Guide. It has a similar approach to logic and reality, and I found it enjoyable in a similar sort of way. Where Union, improbably, is a serious book in goofy trappings, Affair makes no excuses for its goofiness — every character has an absurd, jokey name.
Affair is the first of a series. I read the second (good as well) and the third (less good). The series went meta — events happening inside of books in the book — and I lost my connection with the characters. Though… even the third has some gems, like the discussion of “had had” and “that that”.
I realized after a while that sometimes I am not positive enough about the good books, or detailed enough about my reasons for liking them. You really ought to read Union. It is great. Soon I Will Be Invincible is another one — I wrote about it tepidly, but it really is a must-read.