Books: The Woman Who Died a Lot

Here’s another book I wouldn’t have chosen to read based on the title. But as soon as I saw the name of the author – Jasper Fforde – I wasted no time in checking it out of the library.

Interestingly, he explains on his website how he came up with the title:

It’s been on my list of titles for a while, along with ‘Seven Things to do before you Die in Talgarth’, my faux misery memoir ‘A Fork of my Own’ and ‘The Life Debt of Phoebe Smalls’. The title just seemed so perfect for the book. Not only does it conjure up the notion of a noir thriller, but also a, well, rubbish noir thriller. The sort of title an idiot who can’t write to save his life would come up with. Hmm. Worrying. I wonder if it’s an ironic thing?

It’s the seventh in his series of books about Thursday Next. The sixth book was not as good – though I couldn’t help wondering, as I read it, if he intentionally had the narrator not tell the story as well because she was the fictional Thursday Next, not the real one. (If that doesn’t make sense to you, you haven’t read the series. Go read it.) The Woman Who Died a Lot is better – and back to be narrated by the real Thursday Next – though probably not as good as the first few books in the series.

If you haven’t read the series, it won’t make much sense to tell about Tuesday trying to create an anti-Smite shield to avert divine wrath, once-future time travelers (including Friday) dealing with a (non?)altered future (because time travel turned out not to have been invented), and Thursday trying to get a psychiatrist to evaluate her as sane enough but not too sane to be the head of SpecOps 27. As it turns out, she ends up as head librarian instead, but in Fforde’s world, even head librarian is far from a quiet job.

There is a very satisfying end to one of the villains Thursday has battled since the first book, as well as resolution to another plotline that has been hanging around for a while. I would have considered this a satisfactory ending to a very entertaining series. But a note at the end of the book announces an eighth book, Dark Reading Matter. I’m in no hurry to read it, but I certainly will read it when it comes out and the library gets a copy. Of course, if the next book in one of Fforde’s other series shows up first, I’ll be even more eager to read it.


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