Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Curtis Sittenfeld
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Random House (April 19, 2016)
Reading Sara Rating: 5/10 (this doesn’t mean it was bad… it just wasn’t a top pick!)
Reading Sara Review: I caved and read my second Jane Austen Project book much quicker than I expected to. Eligible was fun – not great, not bad, but I will admit that I enjoyed reading it. As usual, don’t be deterred by the 5/10 rating – I rate on a scale of 10 to give a better picture. It is not a 2 or a 1, it just also isn’t a 9 or 10.
Eligible was the first book I read from my Summer 2016 Reading List because I was ready to get summer started – and a classic chick lit read sounded perfect for a Sunday. As mentioned above, Eligible is a part of the Jane Austen Project – modern retellings of the classic Jane Austen works. This one is based on Pride & Prejudice and set in modern-day Cincinnati. Because I am hoping most of my readers have read Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (or at least seen the BBC movie), there will be spoilers ahead – which, if you know the plot already, should not be a problem.
This book was a much more creative modern retelling than Emma, which if you have been following the blog, I was heartbroken to hate. Sittenfeld wove in texting, CrossFit, money problems, and reality television into this retelling. Sometimes it felt a little over the top, but it was still fun. Liz and Darcy’s falling in love felt mostly authentic. Liz was not perfect, and there were times that I had to roll my eyes at her snobbish attitude and pre-conceived notions. Jane, an over 40 yoga instructor, living in New York City, longs for a child and has mostly given up hope of love after failed romances. I found myself cheering for Jane and Bingley’s reunion.
Because of the creative storytelling and modernizing the Pride & Prejudice story, Eligible works. It is not profound literature (which is why this review is fairly short), but it takes a different twist on the plot line – there are changes, and I thought the changes made it fun and added some surprises to the book. If Pride & Prejudice was in modern times, I believe that Sittenfeld got it pretty close to what each of these characters would be doing.
Overall, this is a good summer read if you are a Jane Austen fan. If not, it’s ok to skip it.