Book Review: Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

18 Apr

My friend Katherine is a big fan of Jane Eyre. Getting her a book called Texts from Jane Eyre was an obvious Christmas present in my mind. Katherine told me how much she enjoyed the book and recently told me she reread it and still found it funny. When I had no audiobook and a lot of driving ahead of me, this seemed like a good choice to fill the silence.

Cover Image via Goodreads

Cover Image via Goodreads

Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg

Summary from Goodreads:

Everyone knows that if Scarlett O’Hara had an unlimited text-and-data plan, she’d constantly try to tempt Ashley away from Melanie with suggestive messages. If Mr. Rochester could text Jane Eyre, his ardent missives would obviously be in all-caps. And Daisy Buchanan would not only text while driving, she’d text you to pick her up after she totaled her car. Based on the popular web-feature, Texts from Jane Eyre is a witty, irreverent mashup that brings the characters from your favorite books into the twenty-first century.

I loved parts of this and other parts went completely over my head. Even in books I’d read and liked, there were references I didn’t get. In The Outsiders, my favorite book, I was laughing so hard I almost pulled over at jokes about how all gangs watch sunsets and read poetry and how Soc is pronounced, but I didn’t think the bit about how blue Darry’s eyes are was funny at all. I don’t remember that being a big part of the story. The stories I wasn’t familiar didn’t do much for me (Sweet Vally High or Rebecca for example) but there were some really good jokes about those I did know, like Edgar Allen Poe and Ode to a Grecian Urn. So I would say this was very hit-or-miss with me.

Being a comedy, all of the characters were way over the top. The ‘straight man’ in every conversation, normally an unidentified ‘friend’ not in the work, is the voice of reason and the literary figure, be it Emily Dickenson or Daisy Buchanan, is there to make you laugh. I wish the straight man had more often been a character from the book. There are great examples of when this happened (Babysitters Club, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter), but most of them did not.

I thought my favorite bits would be from Harry Potter or The Outsiders, but I honestly think Hamlet was one of my favorites. He was the perfectly sullen boy who hated everything and his mother doted on him, hoping to make him happy. It was really funny and he was revisited a few times in the first part of the book so the joke was continued for a while and wasn’t a quick passing bit like so many others.

Mallory Ortberg Image via Slate

Mallory Ortberg
Image via Slate

I did, however, really enjoy the short Harry Potter bit. I appreciate all references to wizards having no common sense about money or numbers because I honestly can see how that would happen.

I was really disappointed in the Great Gatsby bit. I think Ortberg could have done so much more with Daisy and I thought the two short bits about picking her up after a car crash were a bit repetitive. Oh well. Only so much I can expect someone else to do with one of my favorite books.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Amy Landon and Zach Villa. It was nice to have two genders do the narration for this because it was easy to tell between the speakers in the text conversations. There were some conversations where the conversation needed to be two men or two women. I thought Villa did a better job at handling this. Landon’s two voices were too similar in my opinion and I had time distinguishing who was speaking in a two person conversation. I didn’t have that problem with Villa.

Writer’s Takeaway: The comedy in here was really smart, though not always up my alley. I think it’s good that Ortberg did bits from so many works and writers. It almost assured that there was something in there for every reader. There were some more I wish she’d done, including Frankenstein and Stieg Larson’s Millenium series but I’m not complaining too much. It was funny and I laughed, some more than others. I think she should have picked bigger themes in some of the works because, as in the case of The Outsiders, even for a fan, it seemed obscure.

I liked some of it and didn’t get other parts of it. So that’s hit-or-miss to me. Three out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts:
Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg | Expandingbookshelf
Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters, Mallory Ortberg | Books j’adore


4 Responses to “Book Review: Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg”

  1. Diana April 18, 2016 at 1:52 PM #

    I have been waiting for this review since your last WWW post.Glad you enjoyed the book,3 stars is good.At first I thought its just Jane Eyre but seems like it covers a number of books.I’ll definitely check it out.Great review.


    • Sam April 18, 2016 at 4:02 PM #

      Thanks! Yes, it covers a lot of books. The only reason I rated it 3 and not higher is that there were a lot of references I didn’t get because I wasn’t familiar with the work. I also wish the conversations were longer! I loved how funny they were. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jenn April 20, 2016 at 1:49 PM #

    I just added this to my Goodreads TBR list! I love Jane Eyre and like the commenter above said, I thought it was just about Jane. Cool to see it covers more than just that 🙂


    • Sam April 20, 2016 at 6:51 PM #

      It covers a lot more which is really fun. Hamlet and Edger Allen Poe were two of my favorites in this. Happy reading!


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