Thank You to Random House for providing me with an advanced copy of Curtis Sittenfeld's latest novel, Eligible, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT - Eligible is Curtis Sittenfeld's modern retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Set in present day Cincinnati, Eligible follows our heroine, Liz Bennet, a late-thirties magazine writer, who has rushed home from her life in New York, to help her parents while her father recovers from heart surgery. Liz's older sister, Jane, a yoga teacher has also returned home to help. The three younger Bennet sisters have never left the nest. Middle sister Mary, is a life long student and possible closet lesbian. The two youngest sisters, Lydia and Kitty, spend their days at a cros-fit studio, avoiding obtaining jobs. Liz's parents are in denial over their lack of income to keep their dilapidated mansion afloat. Is Liz the only Bennet facing reality?
None of the Bennet sisters are married, but Mrs. Bennet sees an opportunity when Chip Bingley, an eligible bachelor, comes to town. Bingley is a wealthy, handsome, well-connected doctor, who happens to be the star of the latest season of "Eligible", a dating reality show. Also in town, is Bingley's friend and fellow doctor, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Darcy is mysterious and aloof, attracting Liz, much to her dismay.
LIKE- Disclaimer, I'm a huge fan of Curtis Sittenfeld. She is one of my top-five favorite contemporary authors. I was beyond thrilled when Random House approved me for an advanced copy. I started reading with sky-high expectations.
I'm happy and relieved to report, that Sittenfeld did not disappoint with Eligible. Start to finish, Eligible is a fun ride and an excellent update to Pride and Prejudice. I can't imagine that many people will read Eligible without having read Pride and Prejudice ( although you can, it stands on its own), but a huge part of the fun is seeing the clever ways that Sittenfeld has updated Austen's classic story. It's brilliant.
The simple switch of raising the ages of the girls is a smart modernization. I'm the same age as the protagonist and I can relate to Liz's issues and frustrations. I see the way her parents act echoed in my own family and friend's parents. Much of this story is about the generation divide. Although Pride and Prejudice holds a special place in my heart, Eligible keeps the spirit of Austen's story, but makes it more relatable for a modern audience.
I got a kick out of the bachelor-esque reality show. The way it is woven into the plot provides plenty of laughs. Sittenfeld's Darcy is just as swoon-worthy as the original, maybe even more so.
DISLIKE- Nothing. I realize that some people will probably look at Eligible and groan, "stop messing with Austen"...but seriously, as someone who buys just about anything Austen, Eligible is in another league. There are no zombies and Sittenfeld is an accomplished writer. This isn't a gimmick.
RECOMMEND- YES!!!!! Eligible is another home run for Sittenfeld. If you're unfamiliar with Sittenfeld, I highly recommend that you stop what you're doing and get your hands on one of her novels. If you're an Austen fan, this is a must.