In the course of walking through Book World, Fforde's heroine Thursday Next discovers one reason for the existence Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea when she passed a “a small shop whose painted headboard read: Backstories built to order. No job too difficult. Painful childhoods a specialty.” When Snell, her guide, takes inside to meet Mr. Grnksghty, the shopowner, she see bottles of backstories with labels, such as Valiant war record or the almost drained Misguided feelings of guilt over the death of a loved one/partner ten years previously” (51). The shop owner complains “about Charlotte Brontë ordering backstories and then not using them,” and when Thursday sympathetically comments “That must have been very disappointing,” Mr. Grnksghty agrees.
"Oh, yes." The man smiled, delicately turning a tap on the apparatus and watching a small drip of an oily colored liquid fall into a flask. "I made the most wonderful backstory for both Edward and Bertha Rochester, but do you know she only used a very small part of it? . . . "I am an artist, not a technician. But it didn't matter. I sold it lock, stock and barrel a few years back to The Wide Sargasso Sea. Harry Flashman from Tom Brown's Schooldays went the same way. [52-53]
It turns out that Mr. Grnksghty also had on hand “Mr. Pickwick's backstory for years but couldn't make a sale.” In the end, he just “donated it to the Jurisfiction museum” (53).
Fforde, Jasper. The Well of Lost Plots. Penguin, 2003.
14 November 2008