Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
Published by The Borough Press
Genres: Retelling, Contemporary, Adult, Romance
For fans of: Pride and Prejudice, duh. Dizzie shippers. Non Austen-purists
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.
Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.
Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .
And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.
No, seriously, Austen purists will HATE this
I’ve said it about a thousand times at this point, so one more time won’t hurt anyone: *DIZZIE IS MY OTPs OF OTPs. And because of this, I will read literally any retelling of **P&P I can get my hands on – which is how I wound up reading this one.
As far as retellings go, Eligible does a pretty decent job of making Pride and Prejudice modern. It’s not the best – The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet still hold those titles, but it’s alright. I say “pretty decent” because I guess things could have been done a little better? I mean, is it really normal for a well-to-do American family to have a black maid who was practically family, but not know when she died and not attend the funeral as a family unit? Serious question. I am not American. I don’t know if this is normal in Cincinnati. To me, it sounds a little dated – believable if the book was set around the same time as The Help, but in 2016? Really?
But then again, considering everything that’s been going on of late, maybe I’m wrong.
If you’re an Austen purist interested in reading this book, I’d advise against it. Eligible, while a fun retelling of the story we all know and love, lacks all the subtleties of the original Austen classic. It’s loud, it’s in your face, and it’s not afraid to get a little bit crude every now and again. But if you’re like me and not to fussed about the retellings staying true to their subtle, sly Austen roots, then by all means, read the heck out of this.
I don’t really have much to say about this book other than the fact that I enjoyed it. I liked Curtis’s reimagination of this story. The message is the same, and the overall story is pretty much the same was well. I liked that there was an LGBTQIA aspect included in the book. I would have liked to maybe see more POC (it IS 2016. I mean, hello?). I didn’t particularly like Liz and Darcy’s ending? SPOILER: The two of them randomly getting engaged at Jane’s wedding without at least talking about dating? It felt a little cheap, and a little bit old fashioned. I also wasn’t a giant fan of Liz’s character. She wasn’t the most likable person, which was sad, because Elizabeth Bennet is one of my all-time favorite literary heroines, and I felt like her character had been put through a sieve for this one.
Still, it was a fun read, and I’ll give it a thumbs up.
*This was truer before Kanej came along and ruined my life, but you know, let’s just pretend?
** P&P is one of my all-time favorite books, as well, so, you know, it’s kind of a double draw.