25 June, 2014

Just So Stories and The Eyre Affair

Rudyard Kipling (image from Wikipedia)
Today I was reminded of a favourite set of stories as a child and it struck me that there were certain similarities between those stories and a book I've just read. And I think you should read both! This post also gives me the opportunity to put up a photograph of an author with an incredibly fine moustache and luxuriant eyebrows, which is a grand thing in itself.

Did you read the Just So stories by Rudyard Kipling when you were young (or even not-so-young)? We had an audiobook of them when I was a child and I still remember many of them vividly. For those who have somehow avoided them - I'm not sure if they made it internationally or not - the Just So stories were Kipling's fanciful explanations of why things were 'just so'. Most of the stories were about animals, although I think a few were on other topics.

The stories I remember well include, How The Rhinoceros Got His Skin and How The Elephant Got His Trunk. The reason I'm mentioning these stories now is because BBC Radio Four have just started a second series of 15 minutes programmes called Just So Science. These programmes look at the real science behind the Just So stories. Science and classic story-telling - I can't think of a more beautiful combination! You can find all previous episodes here.

I rarely re-read books, but I have just indulged in another jaunt into Jasper Fforde's novel The Eyre Affair. If you love books and like a light-hearted but intelligent read then this is perfect for you. The premise of a villain getting inside classic books and kidnapping the characters is brilliant and Jasper Fforde carries off the idea wonderfully. There are so many little literary in-jokes and the book is set in a parallel version of the world where most things are the same but history turned out just a little differently. In some ways it reminds me of the Just So stories as a good subtitle for it might be, How Jane Eyre Got Its Ending. If you haven't read it, read it!


  1. I loved "Just So Stories" as a child. They were part of our read-aloud Saturday nights where we popped corn or ate pancakes and read aloud as a family. (Good memories, those!) The Eyre Affair sounds brilliant. You've piqued my curiosity.

    1. Good! You should definitely read it - it's great fun. Although Fforde's best book is Shades of Grey (I felt very sorry for him when 50 Shades of Grey came out about a year later!)

  2. Darn it - my first comment evaporated into cyberspace! I stumbled across Kipling through Kim and enjoyed it so much that I then looked at some of his other works, including Just So Stories. I was delighted this week when Just So Stories merited a subsection in the missing vowels round of Only Connect. (Delighted, of course, because I got them all.)

  3. I loved it. The film is good too, apparently.


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