Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

And Now for Something Different

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

And Now for Something Different

Article excerpt

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT

The Woman Who Died A Lot, by Jasper Fforde. Viking Adult.

WHEN A COLLEAGUE

told me Sojourners had received a review copy of the latest Thursday Next novel by Jasper Fforde, I was delighted-and confused. My delight came because I'm a huge fan of the series, whose protagonist Thursday lives in an alternate-reality U.K. and, in previous novels, has worked for Jurisfiction, the policing agency within fiction. My favorite scene was when, several novels back, she helped Great Expectations' Miss Havisham moderate an anger management group in Wuthering Heights, set up to keep it from going the way of "that once gentle comedy of manners, 'Titus Andronicus."'

However, it was unclear why anyone the locally based Global Standard Deity church. The GSD, having unified the world's religions, plans to use its "collective bargaining powers" to open formal negotiations with God, starting with the question, "What, precisely, is the point of all this?"

If I were Brian McLaren, I could no doubt get mileage out of this negotiating-with- God idea, and out of the novel's various speculations about whether not believing might make God (or, in a separate subplot, an asteroid hurtling toward the Earth) cease to exist. Other storylines-a villain who can alter memories convinces Thursday she has an extra child; Thursday's teenage son Friday is apparently fated to would send a book from this series to a Christian social justice-oriented magazine. My best guess, as I gleefully devoured Vie Woman Who Died A Lot, was that some hilariously over-optimistic publicist thought we'd be interested in the novel's subplot in which God reveals Godself by smiting various cities with columns of fire- sometimes in response to sin, sometimes to "unimaginative architecture: poor restaurants, or even an overly aggressive parking fine regime." Thursday's hometown of Swindon is next on the smite list, possibly to increase God's bargaining position against murder someone who may or may not be an irredeemable louse-could, at a stretch, fuel theological debate about identity or free will.

If I were a LeftBehind fan, I'd be paranoid about the one-world religion, or perhaps just peeved that the whole thing could be read as a sendup of Christian apocalypse fiction: The GSD church, far from being a pawn of the Antichrist, is transparent and reasonable. …

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