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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Title: Eligible 
Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
Publisher: 19 April 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Pages: 512 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: contemporary, retelling, romance
My Rating: 4.5 crowns

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.

My Thoughts

"Did you just make a joke? I hadn't realised you had a sense of humor."

I devoured this novel! What a hoot! It was so much fun. This truly was modern day satire at its best - the writing is sharp, with clever, dry humour. Sittenfeld is true enough to the original source in essence, but brings a fresh, modern cultural feel to it. I was always amazed by how events I knew would occur were presented in this refreshingly modern interpretation. Knowing Pride and Prejudice as well as I do, it was fun to see how Sittenfeld bought them into the 21st century. I was eager to see how various characters or scenarios would be transported and it was always cleverly done.

"Even if you hadn't screwed over Jasper and Jane, I'd never want you to be my boyfriend," Liz said. "And even if you hadn't just insulted my looks, my personality, and my family."

This is a contemporary retelling so be warned! I believe that purists will not like this interpretation. Even if you are a fan, I think it is imperative that you go in with an open mind and view it as the fun jaunt it is. It is revisiting old friends but in today's society. The story and wit is there, but it's definitely not for the squeamish. If references to "ST" (sexual tension), 'hate sex' and use of sex toys puts your head in a spin - beware the fainthearted!

"The dude had had a god complex since he was twenty years old. What a wanker."

Sittenfeld makes it her own. It's seemingly long page length (500+ pages) will simply fly by. The chapters are short (sometimes a paragraph!) and will entice you to read just that little bit more. Even if you know nothing about Austen's original tale, you will find this a standalone piece of literature readable and very enjoyable. 

My only criticism is that some of the events and behaviours were a trifle over the top and overt in their modernising. And the last chapter (chapter 181 if you don't mind!) - well, I have no idea why that was included? I found the mechanics of the 'behind the scenes' of the filming a bit too descriptive. Overall, however, I found that Sittenfeld took her superior writing skills and produced a fine piece of literature. 

"It was like she was being pelted with a magnificent hail, and she wished she could save the individual stones to examine later, but they'd exist with such potency only now, in this moment."

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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