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Our discussion of The Woman Who Died a Lot

The group met last night to discuss Jasper Fforde's 7th book in the Thursday Next series, The Woman Who Died a Lot.    For some readers, this was their first time reading a book in this series, so we had a mix of people who were familiar with the series, and some who were completely new to it.  As always, we had a great, lively discussion!    I'll try to hit some of the highlights of what people had to say:

  • Greg started us out by saying that he was familiar with the series, and found it reminded him of Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat series.  He liked the wordplay in the story and found it a fun book, although it took a bit to get into the story.   Taylor also said that she took a while to get into the story, although once she did, she became attached to the characters and enjoyed the book.
  • Terry commented that although she is becoming more familiar with British writing, she wondered at times if things in the book were "Britishisms" or inside jokes.   She also wondered why the author included religion in the book.     Hola responded that she felt that "If you want fanatics for your book, religion is a good way to go."
  • Furry said that she had a great time reading the book and found it to be Python-esque (Monty Python, that is).  She thought all the little asides were great, and said she didn't need everything to make sense because overall, it was just fun.  Rick also said that he liked it and laughed out loud several times.  He liked the characters and the names, and found it a fun read.  We had some general discussion about some of the things that readers found really funny in the book.   Some people remarked they liked the puns/wordplay in the bits at the beginning of the chapters.
  • Hola stated one of the things she enjoyed about the book was that Fforde doesn't go on and on about Thursday's appearance.  For example, he doesn't write about her flowing hair, or how pretty she is, and instead, focuses on how smart she is.  "She takes a licking and keeps on ticking," as Hola said.   Other readers agreed with this, and said ti was refreshing to have a female character whose appearance didn't drive the story or impact how other characters related to her.
  • Jen mentioned that the book reminded her of The Rook, which the group had read previously.    Theresa said she agreed, especially because there was "the really dumb pet who might turn out to be something cool."
  • However, not everyone was a fan of the book.  Menolly said that she didn't finish it, and overall, was not a fan of this author.   To her, it seems like he tries too hard.  She understands the wordplay, but felt there were other authors who did it better, and more subtly.   Which led to one of the quotes of the evening: "Pratchett does it better."    Many of us feel this should be made into a t-shirt, which would definitely provoke some conversation in a crowd.
  • Hola said she knew where Menolly was coming from, and that she felt the same way about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where the author seemed to be trying too hard to be clever.  However, she liked this book because, as she put it, there were stakes.  She cared about the characters and worried about what was going to happen to them.  As she put it, "Crap was actually going down in this book."
  • Ed was another reader who wasn't wild about the book.  He enjoyed the puns, but overall didn't care about what happened in the story, and wasn't hooked enough to read the other books in the series.   To him, the book reminded him of Gail Carriger's Parosol Protectorate series, which he enjoyed and read all of the books.
  • We had some general discussion about elements of the book that people found interesting, like the Day Players (or, as one person called them, "Nougat Clones.")   It was interesting to compare them to the book the group just read, vN, which also had clones in it (but which were completely different).     There was also a bit of discussion about whether or not this book had dirigibles in it.   You may be wondering why this was even brought up, but it has seemed to many readers that an awfully lot of the books that we read has dirigibles in them).    This bit of discussion led to Burt Macklin, FBI stating, "What we need is for Scalzi to write a book about dirigibles."   John, are you reading this?   
  • Burt Macklin, FBI listened to the audiobook, which he said was okay.  He liked the book, but agreed that Pratchett does it better.  He did like the parts about Thursday's memories changing, and felt the author did a good job with that.
  • We had some general discussion about people's reactions to this book, and how much they seemed to depend on whether or not people had read the other books in the series.  Some people said they would now go back and read the other books, while others felt this one was enough as it was.

The group gave this book the codes: BH, HAA, GB, TTL, ATT, LEL and REL - and added a new code, LIBN (Librarian), just in case there are future books that feature librarians.   The averaged-out rating for the book was a 4.

We always welcome more comments, so please feel free to leave us one here!


I look forward to reading every book in this series. Fforde has created a smart, quick-acting heroine who I really admire. Thanks for hosting a great meeting, Jen!

Agreed, this was a good meeting. Looking forward to this months group.

This was a really fun meeting. And we do read the blog. Thanks Jen!

I found the puns entertaining if a bit inconsistent. I found it a bit disconcerting to have names dates and places that are in this universe but attributed events that are not [of this universe]. I was surprised that he went to such extreme to avoid profanity in one case (procreating female dog) while blatantly naming the villain, uh, car raising defecation.

Still, it was a rollicking good time and I enjoyed it immensely. Thank you to whomever recommended The Woman Who Died A Lot

Brian, thanks for giving your thoughts on the book.  As you can see, the group had a lot to say about this one, and a lot of readers thought it was a fun read.  :)

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