The Woman Who Died A Lot (#7) by Jasper Fforde

Published: January 31st 2013
Goodreads badgePublisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 380
Format: Book
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The Bookworld’s leading enforcement officer Thursday Next is four months into an enforced semi-retirement following a near fatal assassination attempt. She returns home to Swindon for what you’d expect to be a time of recuperation and rest. If only life were that simple. Thursday is faced with an array of family problems – her son Friday’s lack of focus since his career in the Chronoguard was relegated to a might-have-been, daughter Tuesday’s difficulty perfecting the Anti-Smote shield needed in time to thwart an angry Deity’s promise to wipe Swindon off the face of the earth, and Jenny, who doesn’t exist except as a confusing memory. And that’s not all. With Goliath attempting to replace Thursday at every opportunity with synthetic Thursdays, the prediction that Friday’s Destiny-Aware colleagues will die in mysterious circumstances, and a looming meteorite that could destroy all human life on earth, Thursday’s retirement is going to be anything but easy. If you thought dealing with the Bookworld could be hard, wait until you see what it takes to be a mother.

I wanted to read this book so badly that I drove an hour round trip this morning to get my hands on it. That is the result of the previous book and the fact I was so engrossed in this series once again I couldn’t bear leaving it any longer to read the latest book. I finished it by early evening too, because that is what Jasper does. You can force yourself to stop in between books (if you must) but once you start, you cannot put it down.

The Woman Who Died A Lot effectively is showing the effect and consequences of the events in First Among Sequels, and also the aftermath of One of Our Thursdays is Missing. The events of One of Our Thursdays Is Missing act as a buffer between the two, still important, but in an abstract kind of way.

As usual in the Thursday world there are six things going on at once that you must keep track of. The wrath is due Friday, the library is armed to the teeth, there are cross-dressing nuns, and forgetting why you walked into a room suddenly makes so much more sense. There is the word foible, the ongoing issue of the Stupidity Surplus, and someone is finally getting angry about making Enid Blyton politically correct. There is something in this for everyone.

The tone and writing takes a little while to feel natural this time around, I don’t know why exactly but the recapping that Jasper has always been good at seems a bit out of place. It reads ever so slightly as if directed at a reader who has not read the series before. While the other books offered a simple reminder about what had happened within the story itself, The Woman Who Died A Lot tends to describe things as if we did not know them already. This is only for the early section of the book mind you and the fluidity returns soon enough, but it did have me worried for awhile that the magic had vanished.

There is no point pretending this book is not different. As much as you wish and fondly remember the Thursday adventures from the earlier books you have to accept that realistically it was almost twenty years previous, and things change. The large jump into the future throws you slightly because we haven’t had the time to get used to the aging Thursday. There was a gradual change in some respects but we are also suddenly presented with the middle aged woman who is struggling to be as she was; granted it was due to the events of the previous book so you can’t be too harsh, but it does make you remember how she once was. I think if she had recovered instantly it would have been worse, so I am happy to take the person she is now because you can see the Thursday that once was within her still.

This is just as a character of course, story wise there is mystery and chaos as before, perhaps in a different style but chaos nonetheless. Things from past books are brought up and ongoing issues still present themselves but that is part of the familiar joy. The content lends itself to all manner of strangeness so asking for any sense of normalcy is out of the question. What Jasper does is he likes to drop bombs on you and then keep moving as if nothing has happened. All the while you are jumping up and down three pages behind demanding answers you know full well he isn’t going to give you. The worst part is that even when you think you have an inkling about what is going on, Jasper won’t give you anything to confirm or deny this. He lets you make up theories and explanations of your own and teases you with tantalising clues that make you impatient but over excited at the same time. It is his devilish way.

The RealWorld of the past is different as the years have passed but there are still some familiar faces. Circumstances change and people adapt, there is not a lot you can do about it. But no matter what happens, don’t ever start to worry about Jasper and his books, even if you get doubtful of where things are going and worry that he’s losing his touch, you just need to get to the end because by then your view would have completely changed and you will be out of your mind with excitement and amazement and joy that you can hardly sit still and will complain when dinner is called and you have 13 pages to go. Trust in Jasper, there is a reason he does what he does and you just have to follow him where he leads you; which is now into a state of impatience while I wait for him to write the next book!

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