I really got a kick out of reading this book! Like in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Eyre Affair is laced with literary references ... with a twist! I enjoyed it just as much and know it would have been even better if I had've read the books that were used in this story (yes... I am ashamed to admit I have not read Jane Eyre, or Martin Chuzzlewit!).
This is an alternative history of which Thursday Next is the protagonist. You'll notice right away with her name that this is no regular kind of book. It is richly flavored in a Dickensian way by the names that a lot of these characters have (one of which is Jack Schitt, and I still cannot read that without giggling a little bit because it was used with great skill throughout the novel). I recommend to anyone to read the book just for that fun value alone. More also is a science fiction/ futuristic element of technology, in a world that has to protect its literature ( Next is a cop that hunts down literary felons...and I don't mean that literally). This is where it's a good idea that you know your literature, though I think you can get by pretty well without it (though I'd like to see you not go back and read all the books mentioned afterwards). I won't tell you any more because I don't want to spoil it... just go out and get it!
There are a few more to read in this series, but I want to be prepared beforehand, so I will read the books featured first (so I don't feel like a stupid boobie for not knowing my stuff). This year seems to be, so far, a year of finding books that seem to be almost tailored to my own tastes, and I am having a great time discovering them.