Unless you’ve been reading this blog for at least the past six and a half years, you probably don’t realize that I’m a fan of Jasper Fforde. See my posts of 11/1/11, 11/30/06, and 8/8/06 for more information, but here I want to comment on his latest novel, The Woman Who Died a Lot. The title is not the oddest thing about the story, but it’s in the running.
The plot might still make sense to you if this is your first Fforde novel, but you’ll certainly have a better idea of what’s going on if you read some of the preceding material. There’s a lot of backstory — about the BookWorld, Jurisfiction, dodoes, Goliath, mindworms, smitings, the Global Standard Deity, St. Zvlkx, and the like — that won’t make a whole lot of sense to you unless you’ve read earlier books in the Thursday Next series. But give it a try anyway: this is a strong competitor for best-in-series.
Although there is still a great deal of Fforde’s trademark quirky humor, the ambiance here is rather bleaker and more serious than that of the earlier novels. I do recommend starting at the beginning of the series, but you could still read this one first; just be sure to return to The Eyre Affair and the intervening books.