In the wake of reading the most recent Thursday Next novel, ‘One of Our Thursdays is Missing’, I found myself reaching for an earlier volume,’First Among Sequels’ and re-reading it, in doing so, I discovered that ‘One of our Thursdays…’ is actually a kind of re-boot of ‘First Among Sequels'(TN-5).
This is interesting, because I hadn’t realized that the practice was becoming commonplace, or could work so well, but I’ve noted it in the work of at least one other writer in my reading of late (John Scalzi’s ‘Zoe’s Tale’, as a re-working and re-release of ‘The Last Colony’).
And in this case, Fforde hasn’t actually re-written TN-5, but he HAS appropriated a lion’s share of the groundwork of the earlier novel, and re-imagined it afresh. In ‘One of Our Thursdays…’ he provided yet another construction of his BookWorld, with vast interconnected islands of the genres, transit between them in flying taxis, the mechanics of life for its populace, to include the sundries of life as a book character, the politics of the place, and the special role of his heroine, Thursday, in stabilizing it all.
The real Thursday Next is, as you probably know, an Outlander; not of the BookWorld, but deeply concerned with safeguarding it. Then there are the various iterations of the “written” Thursday Next. Both of these novels hinge deeply on the relationship and interaction of the real Thursday and her written representations.
All of this material is the mortar and brickwork of the newest TN novel. Re-visiting ‘First Among Sequels’ has made that much clear to me. That said, I’m also delighted to report that the additional work does no harm to the earlier book, and magically avoids feeling stale or repetitious in the new one. The whole TN canon is a wonder of imaginative, playful, literary delights. My hope is that Fforde tries this approach again.