January 2010

Beyond black and white

By Jasper Fforde
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Imagine a distant future in which the job you hold and your social position—not to mention who you can marry—depend critically on the colors you are able to see. Such is the world in which Eddie Russet finds himself in Jasper Fforde’s latest novel, Shades of Grey.

After an ill-advised marriage greatly depleted the Russet family’s Red vision several generations ago, the Russets have struggled over the years to regain their social standing and vibrant Red perception through carefully planned marriages with other high-standing Reds. In this vein, it is Eddie’s fiercest hope that he can win the hand of Constance Oxblood, who is practically Red royalty, and take over her family’s string business. All this changes, however, when a foolhardy prank gets Eddie and his father sent to the Outer Fringes, where Eddie encounters a lowly Grey named Jane. In the blink of an eye, Eddie is irrevocably in love. Eddie soon learns that it will take a lot more than poor poetry to curry Jane’s favor, and her friendship may mean often running afoul of authority. In his attempts to lessen her hostility towards him, Eddie’s blinders begin to lift and he finally begins to see beyond red to something far more dangerous: the Truth.

Sounds zany and outlandish? It is! Fforde’s novels are akin to a Monty Python episode put to print, or a Salvador Dalí painting brought to life, and readers who are able to suspend their disbelief are in for a breathtaking and illuminating literary adventure. When the pieces of Fforde’s tricky puzzle fall into place, the resultant climax is an explosive kaleidoscope of emotion that will startle and unsettle, while also igniting a desperate need to nab the next volume in this dazzling new series. With romance, adventure, conspiracies and plenty of laughs, Shades of Grey is high-energy storytelling that offers something for every reader.

Stephenie Harrison writes from Nashville.

Read an interview with Jasper Fforde about Shades of Grey.

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Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey

By Jasper Fforde
ISBN 9780670019632

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