Monday, November 3, 2014

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

Title: Texts from Jane Eyre
Author: Mallory Ortberg

Genre: Fiction (Humor / Inspired By / Classic Literature)
Publisher/Publication Date: Henry Holt and Co. (11/3/2014)
Source: The publisher.

Rating: Loooooooooooooooooooved.
Did I finish?: Yeah, I did.
One-sentence summary: More than sixty poems, novels, and authors of classic and contemporary Western lit recast as a series of hilarious text messages.

Do I like the cover?: I do -- it captures precisely the feel of this.

First line: MEG
tell me it's a wretched lie
, from Little Women (p120)

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy!

Why did I get this book?: I have a soft spot for humor books that take on classic lit.

Review: Here's my one sentence review: this book is so hilarious, it's coming with me to the delivery room for when I need a laugh. (My midwife says laughing helps relieve pain and anxiety).

This deliciously irreverent volume re-imagines classic and favorite books, poems, and authors from Western literature and recasts them as a series of text messages. Featuring over sixty pieces, each just a few pages long, characters and story arcs are distilled into snarky, silly, and sublime extremes: Rochester is a passionate suitor who texts in all caps; Ned Nickerson keeps harassing Nancy Drew while she works on her investigations; Byron and Hamlet are laughably pathetic while Circe and Scarlett O'Hara are delusional divas.

Although I'm familiar with many (but not all) of the works featured, I found everything laugh-out-loud funny. My wife and I took turns reading this aloud to each other, but had to quit because we literally couldn't breathe at certain points, and I do truly intend to bring this into the delivery room with me because I can't not read Henry David Thoreau without dissolving into hysterics every time.

Ortberg takes what is absurd about our favorite characters and authors and emphasizes it in ways I think many readers already have. The inspiration for this book came from a piece on The Hairpin, when someone commented that her small town life was like Gone With the Wind but with cell phones. The format works because we all know people (or have read transcripts) of text messages so self-absorbed and so ludicrous, one can't help but laugh.

Fans of humor sites like Damn You Auto Correct! and The Toast will love this, as well as lit fans who don't mind their beloved classics being played with. This is a fun volume to have on hand for dinner parties or on the nightstand -- it's easy to dip into and is delicious, nerdy fun.

*** *** ***


I'm thrilled to be able to offer THREE copies of Texts from Jane Eyre to my readers! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US readers only, ends 11/14. See my Giveaway Policy for complete rules.


  1. This sounds cute but I have a feeling I'm not familiar enough with most of the classics to "get" it.

    1. Yeah, I need to find someone who is less into classics to see if it's as fun -- but I enjoyed the pieces even if I hadn't read the original.

  2. Ooh, pick me! This book sounds utterly delicious. Especially because The Toast is up there with The Bloggess on my list of favorite websites. It's just so utterly irreverent and delightful!

    1. It is so utterly irreverent and delightful -- this is definitely one you'd love!

  3. I want to read this one so BADLY :) I could use a dose of chuckles.

    1. This is one v much worth yearning over!! :)

  4. Haha! This looks awesome! Sounds like the perfect book to take to the delivery room!

    1. It really is a total hoot -- hope to get an action shot of me with it while in delivery!

  5. I don't think I would "get" the whole idea.

    I don't read that much Jane Eyre, but have fun.

    Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved November Edition. I am in the list as #5.
    My book entry is below.
    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Entry

  6. This sounds so fun! I enjoyed Jane Eyre and I really like books that have a new take on the classics.

  7. So many authors refer to Jane Eyre but I have never read. I need to read this & see just what it is about her :)
    dkstevensne AT outlook DOTcom