The Well of Lost Plots, written by British author Jasper Fforde, was published by Penguin in 2004. It is the third novel in his popular Thursday Next series, and a sequel to The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book. The main character, Thursday Next, is an English detective who works on cases for the protection of characters and stories in famous books.
In her previous adventures, Thursday Next experienced the literal eradication of her husband, Landen, who is also the father of the child she is expecting. In The Well of Lost Plots, she wants to enter the realm of fiction to escape from her troubles. It is a fascinating world for readers familiar with great literature: Thursday meets Lucy Deane from The Mill on the Floss, who suffers from a “repetitive character disorder,” and she also meets the characters from Wuthering Heights who need to attend anger-management counseling.
As the novel progresses, Thursday finds that she too is taking over a small role in a work of fiction—Caversham Heights, an unpublished detective novel. Miss Havisham teaches Thursday how to do her new job as a fictional character, and Thursday joins Jurisfiction’s Character Exchange Program. Throughout this process, she fills in for “Mary,” a partner for another detective hero named Caversham Heights.
Before the upcoming launch of UltraWord, a new book delivery system, Thursday’s mentor and friend Miss Havisham is murdered. Thursday is committed to finding the killer and restoring order in a world where people recycle unpublished books and sell characters and plots on the black market.
The novel moves swiftly with action-packed scenes, and the character Thursday Next moves effortlessly between adventures, dreams, books, and the fantastical world she inhabits, which can be difficult for readers to follow. Some critics have felt that The Well of Lost Plots lacks fluidity and continuity, but the novel—and the series as a whole—is generally praised for continuing to break narrative formulas and conventions.