(The Austen Project #4)
by Curtis Sittenfeld
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Publication Date: April 19th 2016
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Adult Fiction | Retelling
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From the “wickedly entertaining” (USA Today) Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife, comes a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A bold literary experiment, Eligible is a brilliant, playful, and delicious saga for the twenty-first century.
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.
Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible both honors and updates Austen’s beloved tale. Tackling gender, class, courtship, and family, Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today. (Goodreads)
When I first heard of Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld, I was instantly curious. I love a good retelling, and Pride and Prejudice happens to be my favorite book by Jane Austen. Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy... I can never get enough of their story, and I was curious to see Sittenfeld's modern take on the original. While I didn't love the book as much as I had hoped to as a retelling, it was an interesting read as a novel itself.
All the characters that I know and love from Pride and Prejudice make an appearance in this retelling, some in different ways that the original, thank goodness. (Be honest, we ALL were wondering how Mr. Collins would work into this modern retelling!) Liz and Jane were both modern women of the world, living in New York and working as a magazine writer and yoga instructor. Mrs. Bennet, Kitty and Lydia were just as annoying as ever, while Mr. Bennet tells it like it is, and is always a favorite. Mary Bennet was mysterious and perplexing. Darcy and the Bingley's, of course, also had roles in the book, as well as many, many more from the original.
One of my favorite things about the original book is Lizzie Bennet herself. She's such a great character, and I've always loved her. Unfortunately, in this book, I didn't so much. I could not find that connection with her that I always love. And with Darcy, I feel like I didn't even really get to know this modern version of him that well in the book, and what I did know if him, I didn't really care for. As for the relationship between Liz and Darcy, I didn't buy it for a moment. That spark, the tension, that I absolutely adore was noticeably missing, and I kept waiting for it to appear, but it never did, which was unfortunate.
While Pride and Prejudice is one of my most favorite books ever, I wouldn't call myself a die-hard Austen fan or even an Austenite. I never go a retelling of one of her books, or any book for that matter, expecting a book to be even close to the original. (I mean, come on, this is Jane Austen.) I do wonder if I went into this book with my expectations a bit too high. I didn't love it, and I really wanted to. The storyline for the book was engaging, although a bit slow paced in some parts, which caused a bit of skimming for me. I did enjoy some of the modernized parts of the story, even while it seemed to be trying a bit too hard to be modern, as there was so much going on, I kept wondering how ALL of it could be happening with just the one family. I found the following quote from the book to be pretty accurate, "We're expanding your horizons," Kitty replied. "Welcome to the twenty-first century."
I somehow did not know that this book was part of The Austen Project series, which is a group of six bestselling authors who are retelling Jane Austen's six original books. I wish I had known about this before now, as I would have totally checked out the other books in the series sooner.
Overall; Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice just wasn't the right read for me, unfortunately, but I'm sure most others will love it! I'm definitely curious to check out the rest of the books in The Austen Project series, at least for the books I've read of Austen's already. I'd love to see more authors takes on these classics.