Friday, January 2, 2015

Texts from Jane Eyre - Mallory Ortberg

Summary:  Hilariously imagined text conversations—the passive aggressive, the clever, and the strange—from classic and modern literary figures, from Scarlett O’Hara to Jessica Wakefield.

Mallory Ortberg, the co-creator of the cult-favorite website The Toast, presents this whimsical collection of hysterical text conversations from your favorite literary characters. 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.
 (Summary and image from  I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)

My Review:  What would literature be like if some of our favorite characters had cell phones?  Imagine the nagging potential of Mrs. Bennett!  Interactions between Heathcliff and Cathy!  Jane Eyre and, well, everyone.  Hilarious, right?  Ortberg started imagining how Scarlett O'Hara would be able to manipulate, deceive, and annoy those around her, shared them online, and it grew into an instant hit = leading to this book.

Have you visited the website Honest The Honest Toddler?  Oh, man, I die.  She nails toddlerhood so perfectly I just giggle the whole time I'm on that site.  SO, it stood to reason I'd love the book, right?  Right? 

Nope.  Too much of a good thing - I quit ten pages into it.  (And I don't quit books lightly!)

I worry that this is similar.  Don't get me wrong, there are some interactions that had me rolling - like Mrs. Bennet's text to Lizzie: Remember when there was someone who wanted to marry you? ... There isn't now! Hahaha  Or the texts between St. John and Jane Eyre: J: I'm not going to India with you, St. John. S:  That's not what these TWO TICKETS TO INDIA say!  
Seriously, there are some serious gems in here.  Hamlet as an Emo?  Nailed it.  

However, I worry that the comic timing is a little dulled in a collection like this.  Had I read Texts from Jane Eyre a little here and there, setting it down and picking it up for just a few minutes, I feel like I would have loved it more.  As it was, I read it all at once, and found myself a little perturbed at the overt generalizations of some of my favorite literary characters.  

If you're one of those readers who can read multiple books at once, this may be just the thing.  When Ortberg is on, she is ON!  But learn from my mistake - spread out the enjoyment of this collection.

My Rating:  Three stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  Apparently, the mouth of a sailor comes with the acquisition of a cell phone.  Too many f-bombs for me to be comfortable.  Also, she touches on Byron and all that he entails.

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