Monday, June 28, 2010

Book Review - Jane Slayre

Jane Slayre -- Charlotte Bronte, Sherri Browning Erwin

This is the third of the recent group of classic romance/horror humor mash-ups I've read and it is the very best of them. It succeeds in being a fun, light read because it avoided the traps of the almost-good "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" and the waste of paper and time that was "Sense & Sensibility & Sea-monsters". No cheap jokes, no junior high sex puns, no glaring and stupid mistakes in the additions, no missed opportunities, and no pointless, tedious grafting onto the original story. The humor is dry, understated, and dovetailed nicely with the original voice of the main character.

That Ms. Erwin not only has read Jane Eyre, but understood and appreciated it, was apparent in her handling of the original material. (I think part of that understanding and intelligence is indicated by the proper spelling of her first name). She maintained qualities of the original characters and, while indicating the humor of the new situations in which she placed them, she never ridiculed or insulted them (I particularly liked her transformation of Mr. Brocklehurst -- it was everything I could desire). I didn't have a single eye rolling moment and my curiosity about how the story would develop and end remained high until the last few pages answered all.

I've read Jane Eyre several times since my first foray in 6th grade. When I first read about this book, I speculated that the Brontes might be better suited for such a mash-up. Their writings are much more emotional, excessive, and interwoven with Byronic Romanticism and Gothic motifs. These made room for adding in the changes without overstretching credulity (not the case with the two Austen mash-ups, which required much subtler humor and, being tighter and less prone to emotional broad strokes, had less room for what was sledged into them.)

Quite a good, fun, light summer read.

4 comments:

Nina May said...

I've been avoiding those Austen-zombie things for some time now. They felt like a fun idea almost impossible to do right. But if you say this one's good, I might give it a shot.

In a similar(ish) vein, have you read Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series? A loving, highly imaginative take on classic literature, with a very deft and respectful touch. The Eyre Affair is the first one.

Nina May said...

I don't know why, but blogger seems to be eating my comments at the moment. Google! *shakes fist* So then I'll resubmit the comment, usually going off on some other weird tangent, possibly contradicting what the original comment said, because I can't remember what I said the last time, and didn't ctrl+v. Because I never learn my lesson.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. So I suddenly have two nonsensical comments on this post, that is likely why.

The point is, I was wondering if you'd ever read The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde. It's the first of his Thursday Next series, which is a wonderfully imaginative take on classical literature, very deft and loving, and very respectful considering the extent of his deconstruction (in a good way). Anyway, it sounds like you'd enjoy the series.

And I might give this book a shot; I'd been avoiding the Austen ones because although it sounded fun, it also sounded like something nearly impossible to get right.

Nina May said...

If. IF I suddenly have two nonsensical comments.... Make that three.

... I'll come in again.

Aaron said...

Hi Sherri,

I enjoy your blog and especially your book reviews! I was just wondering, how do you put your reading list on the side of your blog? I've just started a blog at kowalfamilyfun.blogspot.com and in addition to posting on what's up with us, I'd like to add a reading list to the bar on the right.

Any help would be much appreciated! Thank you very much!

Aaron