When he first started working in Alice in Wonderland, he was known as the Cheshire Cat, but the authorities moved the Cheshire couty boundaries, and he thus became the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat, but that wa a bit of a mouthful, so he was known more affectionately as the Cat formerly known as Cheshire or, more simply, the Cat. His real name was Archibald, but that was reserved for his mother when she was cross with him.
Something Rotten is the fourth Thursday Next novel by Jasper Fforde. During Bookstravaganza 2012 I read the first Thursday Next book, The Eyre Affair, and was a bit critical; having read some of Fforde’s later work, The Eyre Affair fell a bit flat. But that was mostly the fault of my own too-high expectations.
The Thursday Next novels get better as they go. I absolutely loved Something Rotten—so named for the involvement of one Danish Prince. There’s a whole side-plot where Thursday is trying to find a William Shakespeare clone who can help her tackle the revolting characters in Hamlet, all while distracting Hamlet himself, who has left his play and joined Thursday in the Outland to find out how he is perceived by his readers.
The main plot is just as ridiculous. Without giving too much away, it involves an escaped Minotaur, a favour to some neanderthals, a babysitting gorilla, a husband who sometimes exists and sometimes doesn’t, a deadly assassin known as The Windowmaker, a time travelling father, a surprise appearance from the Jabberwocky, an evil multi-national corporation trying to become a religion, sponsorship from the Toast Marketing Board, a trip to the afterlife, a fictional character become Prime Minister, and a croquet game that is literally the last line of defense against the oncoming Armageddon.
The Thursday Next novels are absurdist and delightful. Something Rotten sees Thursday return to the Outland (aka the real world), whereas past books followed her adventures in BookWorld, working for the police force known as Jurisfiction. But even outside of BookWorld, Thursday’s adventures are wonderful; Fforde’s alternate history Swindon is just as ridiculous as his BookWorld, and Hamlet and the Cat formerly known as Cheshire are definitely not the only BookWorld characters dropping in to visit Thursday.
Oh, and Thursday finally gets her sentence for the crimes she committed against fiction during The Eyre Affair.
Anyway, these books are great. So is Fforde’s other stuff. I heartily recommend them all.
Books read: 3