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Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride & Prejudice

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fiction (2016)
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.

492 pages, Hardcover

First published April 19, 2016

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About the author

Curtis Sittenfeld

32 books5,817 followers
Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the new novel Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (due out April 2016) as well as the bestselling novels Sisterland, American Wife, Prep, and The Man of My Dreams, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Curtis's writing has appeared in many publications, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, Vanity Fair,Time, Slate, Glamour, and on public radio's This American Life. A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she currently lives in St. Louis, MO.

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Profile Image for stacia.
95 reviews86 followers
March 28, 2016
I read this ostensible retelling of Pride and Prejudice with steadily increasing hate. I hope you never read it.

The book uses black and transgender identity in an attempt to shore up its "modern" edginess and does zero work at treating the black or trans characters as three-dimensional human beings. It's just, "Gasp! The Bennet girls are in interracial/transgender relationships in 2016! Is that progressive?!"

The trans character is drawn as duplicitous and Mrs. Bennet, described by the author throughout the book as "a racist," is also transphobic. Both traits are tra rated as some folksy quirk attributable to age and life as a Midwesterner. Characters go out of their way to enable and accommodate Mrs. Bennet's prejudices, coming up with truly appalling "explanations" of what it means to be trans (Darcy tells her it's a birth defect, no different than a cleft palate. Seriously.) Mr. Bennet is also prejudiced to a less blatant/vocal degree. His comments are rendered as good-natured ribbing and it's just as grating.

Sittenfeld only seeks to offset all these instances of bias and gross offense by having Liz use Google to quickly "learn" about trans identity and calls herself "newly enlightened" after doing so. Liz does the same with black characters. If her mother says something blatantly racist, the narration is sure to give Liz internal monologue that basically says, "I know better, though. I'm not like my mother at all. See how I know better?"

There are wholly unnecessary racialized interactions here. Liz, at one point distraught over Darcy, goes jogging and encounters a black woman whose only function in the narrative is to say, "Honey? Are you all right, honey?" There was no reason at all to describe this character as black. She only exists for half a paragraph, for the sole purpose of consoling the lead with an overly familiar term of endearment -- of the type black maids are constantly being described as having used with white families.

SPEAKING OF MAIDS. There's a whole weird thread about "Mervetta," the deceased longtime Bennet maid who the matriarch had fired. Liz is surprised to learn that her father and one of her sisters were nice enough to attend her funeral anyway. It's a strange way to "contemporize" the original work. Nothing contemporary about writing in a black maid who was "like part of the family" until you fired her.

This book never misses an opportunity to make cheap race and gender jokes by placing the punchlines within the mouths of the book's more unlikable characters (they're all unlikable except Jane and Jane is wildly underwritten).

Eligible is also just poorly written. The sentences are (possibly intentionally, given the source material) far too flowery -- even to describe things like eating chili in a fast food restaurant or cleaning out a basement. The reality show conceit is poorly executed (more of a frame -- given attention only in the beginning of the book and in its last few chapters -- rather than something to hang the whole book on, title/premise-wise).

Also grating: the very last mini-chapter is about a Bennet sister whose internal life has not once been explored elsewhere, but suddenly we're deep in her brain as she extols the virtues of being on a bowling league.

Ugh. I just hated this. I hated its casual racism, homophobia, and transphobia and I hated how proud of herself the author seemed in "tackling" race and gender. She did such an unrepentantly horrible job at it.

You don't "update" classics by slotting in a trans character for shock factor (there are literal omg texts exchanged over this "reveal" and the character is made to apologize for "misleading" the family). You don't use a character's race alone as a stand-in for progressivism. Like, "Oh, she's dating a black guy and his skin color is noteworthy enough to mention but none of his other character traits are. But see how we're not really saying too much about how he's black and in our family? Aren't we tolerant?"

In closing, this sucked. Don't waste your time.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
April 29, 2016
Pride and Prejudice, as great a piece of literature as it is, is largely a parody of its time. Mrs. Bennet's desperate hunt for suitable husbands for her girls, the resigned Mr. Bennet, the silliness of the younger Bennet girls, the commentary on social class. The humor and wit is quite subtle, but - Liz an Darcy's romance aside - it is a parody just the same. In that sense, Eligible is a great homage to it. It is filled with wit and dry humor, a rare thing these days.

This book is a lot more obvious, and rather louder in its humor than the original, which is to be expected, considering the times. It is adapted to the modern day, and as such, some people might find the situations more crude (for example, Bingley first appeared in a version of The Bachelor), but one can't deny that back then, as it is now, marriage is but a game. If you think about it, the situations aren't too different, for after all, a host of desperate beauties are being paraded in front of an eligible bachelor in the hopes of getting a ring. It just wasn't televised back in Austen's days. Neither could you google a potential suitor.
FITZWILLIAM DARCY ATHERTON, CA, Liz typed into Google, and after reading through the results, she tried, sequentially, Fitzwilliam Darcy Harvard Medical School, Fitzwilliam Darcy University of Cincinnati Comprehensive Stroke Center, and, just for the hell of it, Fitzwilliam Darcy girlfriend.
The sisters have been updated quite admirably. All are adults, most living at home with their weary parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. They were all expensively educated, and besides Jane and Liz, most are doing absolutely nothing with their lives, unless you consider Crossfit lessons a lifelong calling (I say that in jest, although if you ask a Crossfitter, I'm sure they'll actually agree). The sisters are rather true to the original, down to Mary's tendency to annoy the living shit out of people and her dad's tendency to wish he had had a vasectomy.
“Tease me all you like, but the clock is ticking. No, Jane doesn’t look like she’ll be forty in November, but any man who knows her age will think long and hard about what that means. And Liz isn’t far behind her.”

“Plenty of men don’t want children.” Mr. Bennet took a sip of coffee. “I’m still not sure that I do.”
In this book, Darcy is a neurosurgeon, and our first impression of him ain't that great.
���Here’s what I’ve learned about the people in this city,” Darcy was saying. “They grade their women on a curve. If someone is described as sophisticated, it means once during college she visited Paris, and if someone is described as beautiful, it means she’s fifteen pounds overweight instead of forty."
He's talking about Cincinnati, a city that's not exactly on my bucket list, but still. Ouch.

One of my few complaints about this book is that it does have a tendency to be verbose. The narrative is pretty funny, but it often rambles into people and subjects I feel are space fillers. Sittenfeld has a talent for writing, and as such, the rambling is quite easy to read, but it does make the book feel overly long. Despite that, the book is an admirable homage to Pride and Prejudice.

I received this book as an advanced reader's copy.
Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 121 books155k followers
March 13, 2016
It's a little ridiculous how well done this rebelling of pride and prejudice is. So sharp and clever. The Bennetts are wholly annoying but well drawn characters. The book is faithful to the source in the necessary ways but also fresh in surprising ways. Really liked how Darcy and Liz's relationship evolved. Took a while to get into the book but once I was hooked I finished it in one setting.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,284 reviews119k followers
April 14, 2020
”My dear,” said Mr. Bennett, “if a sock puppet with a trust fund and a Harvard medical degree moved here, you’d think he was meant to marry one of our girls.”
It is a truth universally acknowledged that, like the works of William Shakespeare and Bill Finger, some stories demand reinterpretation every generation or so. Using the ancient structures provides a framework within which the re-inventor can bring to the older foundations and i-beams some more contemporary facades. The one that stands out best for me is a reinterpretation of Richard the Third, the one with Ian McKellan, in which Dickie has been transformed, through the use of genius-level staging, from a sociopathic, murderous dwarf to a Hitlerian monster practicing his calumny on a much larger scale.

And so it is with the works of Jane Austen. The large and small screens of the world have rarely gone long without some production or other of Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park or Northanger Abbey (even Sanditon has now (2020) found its way to the screen), but the lord/lady of this manor is certainly Pride and Prejudice. From 1940, when Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier butted heads to 2003 (set in Utah), barely a hiccup before getting to it again in 2005 (impatient, weren’t they, but worth it to see Keira and Matthew directed by Joe Wright), and then A Modern Pride and Prejudice in 2011, P&P has been a big screen presence as long as there have been big screens. 2016’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies probably doesn’t count. And I undoubtedly missed a few. Yes, yes, I know, Bridget Jones, but I was looking for productions using the P&P title. There have been plenty of TV productions as well, beginning with a 1952 version that featured Peter Cushing. There was another in 1967, ditto in 1980, once more in 1995 (Colin Firth), then again in 2014. And we won’t even go into how many episodes of various TV series dipped into the Austen well. As for books, (throws hands in the air and runs, screaming from the room) I spotted a list on GR of Best Pride and Prejudice Sequels/Variations/Adaptations that listed 278 individual books. With so many folks having had a go at this material, why another one? Well, because the source material is amazing and a well-written update can be both entertaining and illuminating.

description
Curtis Sittenfeld - from http://wvxu.org/

Eligible is Curtis Sitenfeld’s fifth novel. She is best known for Prep, a coming-of-age novel that won her wide acclaim. While I did not find her adaptation of Pride and Prejudice quite so striking as that of the above-noted Shakespearean update, she has done an excellent job of providing a 21st century venue for early 19th century situations (or would that be eternal human situations?) . Some arrive more easily than others. Dinner parties may be less of a thing than they once were, but serve well enough to support structures in which the kids can run around and bump into each other. Liz Bennett overhears a condescension-rich sort ragging on her home town and the quality of the local females just as readily here, at an informal gathering, as her progenitor did at a more dressed up event two hundred years prior. The barbs sting as much, well, nearly as much as they once did. The retorts have lost none of their satisfying spice. Humans have never been short on either pride or prejudice, so there is always plenty of both to go around, whatever century we may be in, at whatever location.

It is no accident that this version opens with society looking at marriage as a game. Finding a suitable life partner remains a kind of contest, with competitors, prizes, winners and losers, hopefully some fun, and plenty of intermittent challenges. Maybe today, in a throw-away culture, the romantic relationship, if not marriage itself, (although far too often, marriage itself) has become more like the Andy Warholian fifteen minute spotlight. Once the contest is over, time to move on to the next stimulant. Let’s see, what’s on this channel. There is, in this regard, less at issue now than was the case two hundred years ago, when women’s choices were far more constrained. The socio-economic costs of not finding a suitable husband were more existentially severe in the early 19th century than they are today, when options are considerably broader and attitudes often border on “whatever.” Chip Bingley, excuse me, Doctor Chip Bingley, was the object of a televised game, a clone of The Bachelor, called Eligible. A flock of lovelies cooed and fluttered through a TV season’s worth of mating game, yet, lo and behold, here he is in Cincinnati, still looking for love. And he is a peach, ladies. He brings with him a notable pal. And the game is afoot.

Instead of a lord of a manor, the contemporary tall, dark, and snotty Fitzwilliam Darcy is presented as a sort of ideal man, physically sculpted, disgustingly well-off, professionally accomplished, and let’s not pretend this is a spoiler, he turns out to be a pretty decent guy. He’s good to the help, is an excellent listener. Oh yeah, this is the 21st century, so toss in great in bed. And not just brilliant, not just a doctor, but a brain surgeon. Really? I would hesitate to suggest that anything he does is not exactly rocket science lest we be informed that he dabbles in designing manned-launch capability in his free time. This guy should be tested for GMOs. His lily is so gilded it needs a truss to hold it up. Of course Sittenfeld may be having a bit of fun with her readers by going so over the top in portraying the brooding catch that she is in danger of falling into the neighbor’s yard. At least she had the decency to keep him socially awkward and a bit clueless, if educable, about affaires de cœur.

And just in case you need some reminding, the Bennets now, as then, are an upper middle class family who find themselves under considerable economic strains. The new mechanisms for this misery are particularly attuned to today. Dad’s health issues have kicked up a notch so the daughters are all back together again to lend support, a few having actual lives elsewhere. The less than wonderful mother hen is very eager to see that her five daughters secure their futures by latching on to mates with the means to take care of them. It is now as it was then in this portrayal. The ages of the players have changed a wee bit. The lovely Jane, delight of all, is nearing 40. If she was zen in the 1800s, she is even more so now, as a yoga instructor. Liz, the heart of the tale, is not far behind, age-wise. Her affinity for words makes her a writer for a magazine today. Thirty-year-old Mary stands off, as she did in her earlier incarnation. The younger sorts. Kitty and Lydia, are presented as giddy twenty-somethings now instead of giddy teens. Ain’t extended childhood wonderful? They are pretty reliably awful more than not. And Lydia’s sexual adventurousness stands out now as it did in the original. Our Wickham, Jasper Wick, can be relied on to be of less than sterling character. (Maybe from burning the candle at both ends?)

There are parallels aplenty with the source material. From the names to the track of the characters’ interactions. Just as P&P dealt in real-world sorts of people (Yeah, the Bennetts, more or less, not Darcy and Bingley) so does Eligible. Extract one quirk of English property law and substitute, quite cleanly, some very 21st century mechanisms for potentially stripping a family of their assets. Plus ça change, different century, same class system. As with the original this is a story about choices and responsibility. Austen’s Bennett sisters faced more of a societal challenge at the time than the more contemporary Bennetts do today. An unmarried woman was condemned to being seen as a spinster, an old maid, someone of marginal value. Women have more freedom today, to have careers, to decide who to be with, male or female, whether that entails marriage or passing relationships, or to opt out of the dating game entirely if they prefer, without becoming social pariahs.

I do take slight issue with Sittenfeld’s choice for a burg. Really? Cincinnati? It may not exactly be New York, London or Paris, but it is hardly the outback. Well, tie me kangaroo down, sport, now there’s an idea! A sheep farm on the edge of Nowhere, Australia. Hugh Jackman or Eric Bana as Darcy, Chris Hemsworth as Chip Bingley, Geoffrey Rush or John Noble as Papa Bennett, Sam Worthington as Wickham, Jackie Weaver as Mom Bennett, Mia Wasikowska as Jane, maybe Rose Byrne for Liz. Substitute town barbeques for the dinner parties or fancy dress balls and watch the ‘Roos have at it. I’d pay to see that. But I digress, however giddily. Sittenfeld is actually from…well…one guess. Her brother is a city councilman there. So I suppose her choice of settings was either based on wanting to dis or celebrate her place of origin (particularly a favorite eatery) or maybe her familiarity offered her the advantage of bringing in a lot of local touch and feel. Either way, whatever. Cincy it is. Sorry, Ohio.

I was particularly fond of papa Bennett’s mordant wit, but was disappointed when it seemed to almost vanish from the book as the story moved on. Mama Bennett was pretty awful, but I suppose the original was no prize either. One would have expected Liz to have seen through the BS of a person she was close to rather sooner than she does. I know people can be dim. Count me among them. But really, Liz?

So, is Eligible a good read? Only an uneducated rube, someone with poor breeding would think not. You’re not one of those, are you? Was the original? Of course it was. This one bubbles aplenty with ST (Sexual Tension), snootiness of various sorts, and egos desperately in need of puncturing. There are misunderstandings, errors in judgment, wrong turns and mistakes enough to populate a screwball comedy of another bygone era. And there is also plenty of caring, genuine affection and human connection to balance the awfulness quite nicely.

You may or may not be bewitched, body and soul. You may or may not want to put a ring on Eligible, but you should certainly consider bringing it home to meet the family. And if you are feeling disinclined, all I can say is get over yourself. Don’t be so judgmental.

Review posted – January 22, 2016

Publication date – April 19, 2016

I received an ARE of this book from Random House, ‘cause they must like my face.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

An aside. Don’t take the page count at face value. There is a A LOT of white space in this one, including 181 chapters, all beginning at mid page.

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages

This wiki on Sittenfeld is fairly informative

Here is a fun piece from Cincinnati.com in which Sittenfeld, no longer an Ohio resident, (she lives in St. Louis) pumps her city-councilman brother, PG, for details about the setting for her book - Will Cincinnati's Mr. Darcy dine at Boca?

Digging into Pride and Prejudice can be fun as well as educational. Check out the original text loaded up with oodles of links and explanations at The Republic of Pemberley

Major analysis of P&P can be found at Schmoop.com
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,849 reviews34.9k followers
September 7, 2018
Update... $1.99 Kindle special today! FUN - laugh out loud Contemporary fiction by the talented Curtis Sittenfeld. I loved it!


Glorious storytelling!!! Incandescent....sparklingly alive, thrilling, jam-packed with
humor, with unforgettable characters. There are so many reasons to love this novel.
I loved, admired, and devoured it.

While dazzling-fun, and gorgeously written, Curtis Sittenfeld explores important problems of family, work, friendships, couples, passion, marriage, secrets,
feminism, body issues, food, ...and how to best lead the life that you think you're
meant to live.....in the twenty-first century.

It's common in families to each get pegged with an identity.
The Bennet Family is no different: Mom- Dad- Five adult siblings: all daughters...all single.
Fred & Sally Bennet are a 'trip' of an old middle age fart couple. Easy for me to say..
I didn't have to live with Sally's shopping addiction, her racist thinking, or concern
myself with the things she found to be of such value in life. Sally Bennet has a deep investment in wanting to see all 5 of her daughter's married ...(to wealthy men of course too). Fred Bennet made me laugh often. Although he took to hiding in his home office, away from his wife, and relatives often, when he did come out for social gatherings - ( meal times and such), he had some of the best laugh-out-loud lines.

Jane is the oldest...( almost 40 years old). She lives in New York -and is a Yoga instructor.

Mary, (middle sister), and Lydia and Kitty ( the two younger sisters) live at home in Cincinnati with their parents in their Tudor house in Hyde Park. None of these sisters have ever been employed. Mary is somewhat mysterious, a feminist, and disappears every Tuesday night.. But nobody knows where she goes. ( not to worry, you'll find out). Lydia and Kitty spend most of their days at 'The Box'...a crossfit gym. - Lean & mean... lol

Liz, a year younger than Jane, often 'seems' like the oldest sibling. She is a journalist....and also lives in New York near Jane. Liz and Jane are very close. ( in age and friendship).
She's the sibling who most looks after her parents welfare - their financial concerns... health concerns, etc. Liz is also the sister who is always ready to jump for any of her sisters needs. She is good at her job..( responsible). She's a great friend...and speaks her mind. There is not a character in the story - major or minor- that Liz doesn't
leave a mark with. Liz is absolutely the leading character- star of this novel... yet..there is something 'interesting & textured' about everyone.

One of the joys of this story...is how enjoyable Curtis Sittenfeld involves us with all the characters. I promise you -- you'll remember 'all' of them - each of their names -from the major characters - to the maid you never meet. You won't even have to 'try' to remember. It's easy... giving much credit to Sittenfeld.
People you'll meet:
Fitzwilliam Darcy...world class Brain surgeon.. ( world class ego?). I'll let you decide.
Willie Collins...( cousin Willie)...a technology savant. Lives in Silicon Valley-California
Chip Bingley... Emergency room doctor in Cincinnati. He was also a Bachelor on the reality TV show, "Eligible". - in Los Angeles, Ca.
Ham Ryan: owner of the Crossfit, in Cincinnati.
Charlotte Lucases: Liz's best friend
Caroline: Chips's sister
Jasper Wick: lives in New York. Long history with Liz. Attended Stanford University with Darcy as an undergrad... (Drama 101...and I don't mean in the classroom).
Kathy de Bourgh: an 80 year old icon who Liz was chasing after to get an interview with. She wrote a book called "Revolutions and Rebellions".

Once Liz did have her interview with 'Kathy'...( successful & satisfying)...
This is a what Liz talked with her:
GREAT QUOTE"
"Liz asked Kathy de Bourgh about feminism's present and past, about whether its current prominence in popular culture struck her as meaningful of fleeting, about
reproductive freedom and equal compensation, race and gender, mentoring, ambition, likability, and whether having it all was a realistic possibility or a phase that ought to
expurgated from the English language."

Since much of this story takes place in Cincinnati, ( not all of it)...I had some fun looking up a couple of the key places visited
1. The Freedom Center ...the National Underground Railroad Freedom is a museum downtown Cincinnati. ... Based on the history of the underground railroad. It opened in 2004.
2. Skyline Chili in the Oakley district. I think if I ever go to Cincinnati, I would have to experience this restaurant. I had never heard of crushed oyster crackers sprinkled over noodles with chili ever before into his story. Could be a 'yummy' digestive concern......a favorite spot for locals.

Smartphones with matchmaking apps, paleo crab cakes, confessions and surprises, eyebrows threaded, juvenile pranks or just stupid choices....this novel is a KICK OF FUN.... (released in May 2016)

"FIRST comes K I S S I N G ... "Then comes love"... ( or maybe not)...
and then comes baby! ....( or maybe not)....
"Pride and Prejudice" ... a modern retelling.....BRILLIANT"!

Thank You to Random House ... and Curtis Sittenfeld for the opportunity to read this book early!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!!!! A 2016 BEST NOVEL!!!!!!
Profile Image for Diane.
1,079 reviews2,607 followers
May 19, 2017
Someone grab the smelling salts, because I nearly fainted when I discovered how much fun this book was.

Pride and Prejudice is one of my veryveryvery favorite novels, so naturally I am wary of modern adaptations. Most Jane Austen fan fiction is mediocre, and I was braced for Curtis Sittenfeld's book to be bad.

But it wasn't bad! I really enjoyed reading it! I thought the updated story was clever, and occasionally I even laughed out loud. Sittenfeld has some thoughtful commentary on modern society, which I think Miss Austen would have appreciated.

I read Eligible in basically two sittings (work got in the way, blast it) and when I wasn't reading it, I was counting the minutes until I could pick it up again. Sittenfeld created a story that followed the basic plot points and characters of the original P&P, but the novel also works on its own. Color me impressed.

The story is that Liz Bennet is a magazine writer in New York who returns home to Cincinnati, Ohio, when her father has a heart attack. She discovers that her parents haven't taken care of the house and her three younger sisters still live at home and have been mooching off their parents for years. Liz decides to try and improve the situation, all while juggling a bad boyfriend back in New York and a new flirtation with Mr. Darcy, who is a neurosurgeon. Liz's older sister, Jane, has a crush on doctor Chip Bingley, and there are some modern turns with that romance.

I suggest avoiding spoiler alerts on this book, because it was nice to see how the new plot details unfolded. Recommended for readers who like modern romance and Jane Austen adaptations.

Cheers to Sittenfeld for pulling this off! Four fun stars!

Update May 2017
I decided to reread this delightful novel when I was looking for something fun after finishing several heavy books. I chose to listen to the audio version, and the story was just as entertaining as it was in print. I think it helps that I enjoyed it more for being a modern romance, rather than expecting a traditional Jane Austen work. If you don't like modern romances (also known as chick lit or women's fiction), you probably won't enjoy this book. And if there are any churls out there who want to scold me for liking this novel, I'll gently remind them that I don't criticize others for the books they enjoy. Then I'll walk away and continue flirting with Mr. Darcy.

Favorite Quote
"There's a belief that to take care of someone else, or to let someone else take care of you — that both are inherently unfeminist. I don't agree. There's no shame in devoting yourself to another person, as long as he devotes himself to you in return."
Profile Image for Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship.
1,095 reviews1,132 followers
April 25, 2016
I am not the biggest fan of Jane Austen, but couldn’t resist this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice from an acclaimed author. How do you take a plot from 1813 – driven by inheritance drama and women’s need to marry for financial security and social respectability – and use it to comment on the modern world?

If this book is an indication, the answer is: you don’t. But reactions will come down to expectations. If you’re looking for an addictive, cotton-candy read, you can stop here, because this is your book. It’s fast reading, consisting of nearly 200 brief chapters; I nearly always wanted to read one more. And even where, on their own, Sittenfeld’s plot and characters might not grab the reader’s attention, curiosity about her adaptation of Austen kept me going. So if you’re just looking for a fun beach read, don’t let me discourage you.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

But as an adaptation, this is an awkward one. The updating is inconsistent. Sometimes it's done well: Wickham’s past crimes, for instance, have nothing to do with inheritance or seduction, but are chosen to be repulsive to a modern audience. Sometimes it's all over the place: in places the romantic relationships are updated to 2013 – the couples have sex before they’re even sure how much they like each other – but in places they're hopelessly outdated – most of the couples marry just as fast as they did in 1813, with proposals made and accepted the moment the lovers admit to having feelings for one another. Sorry, that’s not how modern relationships work. Meanwhile, there are weird contortions in service of the plot, such as Mr. Bennet’s lack of health insurance (as a 60-something rich person?).

Other aspects feel forced and awkward. Rather than creating drama through inheritance law, Sittenfeld makes the Bennet parents nearly bankrupt due to medical bills and excessive spending. As a result, the parents have to downsize, and their adult daughters (most of whom were accustomed to mooching from their parents) have to get jobs. So… they do. The end. This rather dull plotline takes up a lot of page time, without twists or payoff (unless the fact that a new son-in-law doesn’t swoop in to pay all their bills is supposed to be a surprise. It sort of is, but still doesn’t justify making the sale of the house the book’s main plot).

Still, there’s no doubt the book is trying to say something about modern life. It’s full of “issues”: one character has anorexia, another a shopping addiction, though neither is dealt with in any way. Black and transgender characters are introduced, then not developed at all beyond their minority status. If a light beach read can inspire readers to be more sensitive toward others, that’s a wonderful thing, but simply dumping a lecture into the text is distracting. Here’s Liz after a bit of online research: “she knew to be embarrassed for having asked Mary if [the transgender character] had a fake penis; it was, apparently, no less rude to speculate about the genitals of a transgender person than about those of a person who was nontransgender, or cisgender.”

Yet however uninspired the observations of modern life, Sittenfeld never misses an opportunity to remind us that it’s 2013! It’s Cincinnati! This story is set in Cincinnati in 2013! I generally appreciate specificity in books, but listing every street in Liz’s jogging route, having the characters talk endlessly about the merits, disadvantages and tourist sites of Cincinnati, and including sentences along the lines of “Liz had first been made aware of her older sister’s exceptional goodness in 1982, when Jane was in second grade and Liz in first,” hammer on the setting to the point of distraction. The semi-literate text messages don’t help either.

On to the characters. Sittenfeld does a decent job keeping the secondary cast in line with their original personalities. Mr. Bennet’s sarcasm and Mrs. Bennet’s flightiness are certainly in evidence. The Bennet sisters are tougher, since they’re aged up significantly. The original Mary was a socially awkward teen with an overly high opinion of herself, not an uncommon teenage phase; Sittenfeld’s version is an unpleasant 30-year-old who lives holed up in her childhood bedroom taking online courses (she’s also asexual; apparently, if you’re not interested in romance, you can hope for nothing more rewarding in life than weeknight bowling. Yikes). Bingley is mostly a caricature who cries too much, while Jane’s only apparent trait is placidity – and Sittenfeld never convinced me that she would willingly sell her wedding to a reality TV show.

As for our protagonist, Liz is relatable, in that she’s the most sensible Bennet, but as an adaptation of one of English literature’s most popular and admired heroines, she falls flat. There’s not much to admire or interest the reader in this version: she’s on the tail end of a two-year affair with a married douchebag, for whom she’s carried a torch her entire adult life (Liz is 38). She’s worked the same job, as a magazine writer, for more than a decade, but apparently has no ambition, and she seems attached to her family less by affection than a desire to manage them. Her romance with Darcy is as uninspired as Liz herself; the book spends far more time on selling the Bennet home than on developing their interactions, and it’s hard to see any chemistry or much reason to root for this couple. Nor does either experience much growth or change.

(One element I did like: Liz doesn’t want kids, and doesn’t change her mind! Darcy is of the same opinion. And he’s right: don’t call deciding not to reproduce “selfish”; if you want to be selfless, adopt a hard-to-place foster kid.)

To sum up, then: this is fluffy beach reading, and as such it’s perfectly fine. But the attempt to use Pride and Prejudice to say something meaningful about modern America falls as flat as the attempt to engage readers’ emotions in this dull recreation of a famous romance. You can skip this one.
Profile Image for Samadrita.
295 reviews4,466 followers
May 4, 2016
About a third of a way into "Eligible", I was pursing my lips in disapproval, tch-tch-ing internally at the writer's palpable failure to recreate even a smidgen of the magical Elizabeth-Darcy sexual tension that has sort of become a benchmark for the portrayal of sexual sizzle between a romance novel hero and heroine, when Sittenfeld turned things around quite dramatically. Not in the romance department, that is, but in the social justice area much to my surprise.

It's an exercise in futility to search for Austen's wit, her unparalleled talent for creating pitch-perfect dialogue, that unique seguing of gender discourse and romance, class dynamics and family drama, and that incredibly precise combination of believable humane foibles and caricaturesque features in the characters belonging to any of the retellings. So I do the prudent thing by not reading any. (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, why on earth do you exist?)
But I had been meaning to read at least one Sittenfeld work for a while now (given her bestselling novelist status and that Iowa Writers' Workshop MFA graduate tag) and this looked like it might be readable from the blurb. So I thought, why not? Turns out I had some expectations from the fantastically overrated Sittenfeld after all since I was let down on many fronts.

Sittenfeld's prose is nothing to write home about. That I highlighted not even a single passage or sentence while reading is surely a testament to the blandness of her style. The shorter chapter format never works with me especially when you have somehow managed to cram in 181 chapters in 512 pages. It's like the author is making unnecessary assumptions about the prospective reader's attention span. Then there's Elizabeth, one of the most memorable female protagonists ever created in the history of English literature, somehow reduced to just another average smart-mouthed, sassy romance novel heroine in the Darcy-Elizabeth interactions. Pray where is their sharp repartee? Where is Elizabeth's calm, bemused, fabulously clever rejoinder to Darcy's casually sexist comments? Where is her unwavering self-esteem and iron will? All we have here is a much watered down version of the original Elizabeth who sacrifices dignity on the altar of instalust and goes on to lower my opinion of her even further by spewing forth her daily list of family-related troubles to a man who obviously has little respect for her family. About Darcy I'm relatively neutral. He appears like a stick figure much in the same manner that he appears like a stick figure, a figment of the author's colorful fantasy, in the original.

Now here's the good. Even though one cannot reproduce Austen's subtle commentary on the power imbalance in gender relations or class inequality, Sittenfeld weaves in gender and race in more ways than one. Those to me seemed to be the most refreshing aspects of this work. Mr Bennet is fashionably apathetic to his family's zaniness and some of his remarks elicited a chuckle from me while Mrs Bennet appears exactly how an Austen reader would envisage a 21st-century edition of her - a slightly racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-feminist woman who is cheerfully ignorant of her own bigotry and casual cruelties. The improvisation on the Catherine de Bourgh arc was an absolute delight. And it came just when I was starting to get annoyed by the author's obvious antipathy towards Mary who is probably the most unfairly treated character in P&P. How can you not love Mary when she does not mince words while declaring how spineless and indecisive Bingley is? But then Sittenfeld went ahead and dedicated the last chapter to exploring Mary's unvoiced thoughts and I breathed a sigh of relief.

So all in all it's a combination of hits and misses for me. Had Sittenfeld done a better job on Elizabeth, the Liz-Darcy romance and trimmed the length by 200 or so pages I might have awarded this another star.

However, it's always an unequivocally wise decision to leave Jane Austen alone. Really.
Profile Image for Laura.
761 reviews
January 22, 2016
Apparently in this case, modern means sleazy.

I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. That was exciting but it is probably the only reason that I went to the effort to finish the book. The books is divided into three parts and dozens and dozens on teeny tiny chapters which I found completely unnecessary and tedious. Speaking of tedious the author added way too many unnecessary details. For example, how Liz puts on lipstick and where she learned that "trick" from work.

The only positives: the reality tv storyline and Jane was still likable

*******Warning: Spoilers: The main characters first being "f*!k buddies" and then later having "hate sex" not to mention a married Wickham having an over decade-long affair with a pathetic Elizabeth Bennett completely ruined the novel.

On its own, as a fiction romance novel, it could possibly work except for the extended length of the book. If you are a true Jane Austen fan, you will not enjoy this novel.

Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,801 reviews830 followers
June 13, 2016
Eligible is supposed to be a re-telling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but I found it more of a mocking shell of that beloved classic than any re-telling. There’s no way I’m going to imagine that the original version would’ve ever devolved into this story. I didn’t care for or respect any of the characters, maybe with the exception of Jane. Just the fact that Bingley was in a Bachelor type reality dating show gave me pause. Didn’t care for the situation they were in when I stopped reading.

I was utterly frustrated that Liz would waste so many years (twelve? I don’t care enough to check) on a man that was I was very underwhelmed by her relationship with Darcy. Had Liz been a likable character or one that I could relate to in any way I might have enjoyed this story even with the abundance of hateful people. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

When I got to the 52% mark (a little over 250 pages) I just couldn’t read any further.

A copy was kindly provided by Random House in exchange for an honest review.

This review is also posted at The Readers Den.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,368 reviews9,437 followers
August 14, 2016


I was worried going into this because I wasn't sure how they were going to write this re-telling without messing it up too bad. And I have seen some negative reviews but there have been the good ones too.

*****MILD SPOILERS*****

It was so bizarre reading about all of the group in a modern telling but I did very much enjoy it. I did almost faint when I read some of the girls dropping the F-bomb and having sex with certain people. It seemed so wrong on so many levels but was such a good book. It was funny, everyone seemed to be a little whackado at times, well pretty much the same people in the real book, but I digress!

Chip Bingley was on a show called Eligible! OMG! Seriously, people are saying it's like a version of Bachelor and all of that but I only ever watched the Brett Michaels reality love show, but it's the same thing. Poor ole Bingley didn't find love on his show and now he's in Ohio as an ER doctor. Darcy is there as well and he's a neurosurgeon. I think they were in Ohio at the time, yeah because Jane and Liz came home from New York to look after their father (Mr. Bennet) after he had a heart attack and broke his arm.

Mrs. Bennet was played perfectly, she got on my nerves in the real book and she got on my nerves in this book! She also is a shopaholic in this book and what seems to be a sort of hoarder.

Liz works at a magazine called Mascara and Jane is a yoga instructor. Mary, Kitty and Lydia don't do anything but live at home and sponge off their parents. Well Kitty and Lydia are into some kind of fitness thing that I have never heard of and Kitty drives a Mini Cooper! OMG! It's just too funny.

Mrs. Bennet wants to introduce Jane to Bingley so she gets that set up. She wants to get her girls married off before they are too old to have a child. And poor Mr. Bennet is at his wits end with her and the girls.

Liz has been having an affair with Jasper Wick for like 14 years! He can't get divorced from his wife or they won't get the money from her mom when she dies. It's crazy train, people!

Jane and Bingley hit it off and then they get into some dire straits because of something Jane didn't tell him and broke it off for a little bit.

Liz loathes Darcy because she over hears him say some nasty things about her. But . . . they still get it on which totally blew me out of the water. =)

There are a lot of things going on in the book but I think I have given out enough mild spoilers so you can read the rest in the book for yourself. It was a fun little ride!

And as always, Liz and Darcy fall in love!

"My darling-" Darcy lifted his palm from her arm to her cheek, and she leaned into it; she thought she might weep, and closed her eyes. "I would-I will-give you as many chances as you need. My feelings for you have never changed. And all the mushy things I was too cowardly to say before, they're just as true now. You're different from any woman I've ever met. Even when you're arguing with me, you're easy to be around. And those times you came over to my apartment-those were the most fun I've ever had."

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Melindam.
607 reviews254 followers
August 16, 2020
2 confused STARS of Pride and Prejudice meets Sex and Cincinatti??

WHAT THE ACTUAL F? You may ask. And the answer is: PRECISELY THAT.

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shoehorned into

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For P&P fans: read it at your peril and only if you get a kick out of horrified fascination.

For readers in general: if you'd like some fluffy entertainment, this book certainly delivers .


Comparing it to the other books in "The Austen Project", it does not even come close to Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid, but it was way better than either Emma by Alexander McCall Smith or Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope.

However, if you are an avid Pride and Prejudice fan -like I am- I strongly discourage you to try and make comparisons between the original and this modern version, because that will seriously diminish the fluffy entertainment value this book has to offer.

Obviously, there are some slight resemblances, like when you look at these pics below

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and say: both of them are white edifices built for habitation. Basically you are right, but you don't need to have a degree in architecture to notice the glaring differences.

In all sense of fairness, I have to admit that the secondary characters (especially Mr & Mrs Bennet, the younger daughters, Caroline Bingley) were fairly well translated and I would go as far as extending this admission to Jane and "Chip" -OMG! what a name- Bingley and even, to a smaller degree, to Darcy himself.

And then we get to Liz ... and shudder, UGH! She was a most controversial character for me. She certainly did not even come close as the modern alterego of our beloved Elizabeth Bennet, but even as some regular, run-of-the-mill heroine of a chick-lit book, she was hard to relate to.
I had the feeling that Curtis Sittenfeld was experimenting by giving Elizabeth a "Carrie Bradshaw" makeover and the result was .... well.. off-putting, to say the least.

She was bland and meh without any sex-apeal, sass or feistyness and her relationship with Jasper Wick (yep, Wickham) I found simply revolting as well as it being the evidence of Liz's infinite stupidity. . At one point in the book I almost started to warm to her, but then Jasper came into town again and it all went out of the window. And don't even get me started on the

As I am not from the US, I cannot possibly comment on the Cincinatti-connection, but despite considering myself as a fairly open-minded reader, it was bewildering to meet all the "issues of the day& age" crammed randomly and seemingly without any purpose into the narrative. I just kept asking myself: what was the point??

Still, on a superficial level, this book was undeniably amusing and as I was prewarned - thank you, Ange! :) - content-wise, it did not blew up in my face as an unexpected bombshell.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,394 reviews7,262 followers
May 13, 2016
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

A modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, you say????? Well . . . .

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Quick confessional: I may have just a weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee bit of a P&P addiction. I meant to take a shelfie, but . . . well, stupid and also I stayed up way past my old lady bedtime last night finishing this so I forgot. Anywho, I have a habit of buying multiple copies of the same book, but usually it’s by accident. With P&P it’s truly a sickness. I have the paperback I’m allowed read, leatherback that I’m not, the cheapie (yet cute) $9.99 Austen collection from B&N, Kindle versions, zombie versions, hell I even have this made out of it . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

When I heard about Eligible (I’ll give credit where it’s due at the end), I was all over getting a copy. So much so that I might have practically knocked down gently nudged a woman out of my way who was taking too much time browsing the New & Notable shelf at the library. Luckily it was totally worth the pending assault charges because I simply adored this retelling.

The basic storyline is the same – a tale of the gaggle of unwed Bennett girls and their social-climbing mother’s attempts to wed them off. This go ‘round the sisters are all back at the family’s large Tudor after their father has undergone heart surgery and learn that the latest eligible bachelor even played one on television – as the bachelor on a reality show called “Eligible” . . .



Bachelor Chip didn’t manage to snag himself a wife, but he did go down as the cryingest mah fah in the history of ever. That’s no deterrent for Mrs. Bennett, however, as she quickly sets her sights on getting one of her two oldest girls, Jane or Liz, to the alter with the young doctor post haste. As per the original, things go swimmingly between Jane and her new beau, but not so great for Liz and Chip’s bestie for the restie, Fitzwilliam Darcy . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

However, since this was written today rather than 200 years ago, Liz and Darcy use their dislike for each other in a much more productive fashion . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

Hear that? Fangirl squee.

Eligible also tackles (albeit, not a whole lot deeper than surface level) some other modern-day topics such as the biological clock, interracial relationships, gender and sexuality. Much like the original, I still found this to be true of Mrs. Bennett . . .

Palm Springs commercial photography

I’ve read a lot of books in my day and Mrs. Bennett remains one of my most hated characters. What a twat!

Anyway, this was a whole heck of a lot of fun and Darcy was still soooooooooooooooooooooo Darcy . . . .

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Only with a twist . . .

“I’m in love with you. It’s probably an illusion caused by the release of oxytocin during sex, but I feel as if I’m in love with you. You’re not beautiful and you aren’t nearly as funny as you think you are. You’re a gossip fiend who tries to pass off your nosiness as anthropological interest in the human condition. And your family, obviously, is a disgrace. Yet in spite of all common sense, I can’t stop thinking about you.”

Many thanks to Kemper, the person I would have nominated as least likely to read (or enjoy) this story, for putting it on my radar . . .


Profile Image for Felice Laverne.
Author 2 books3,190 followers
August 5, 2019
Eligible is the witty and modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Here you will find the Bennett sisters in the 21st century, complete with artificial insemination, yoga, and fad workout obsessions among other more raucous taboos. Here you will also find nearly 200 chapters—oh my goodness, those chapters; more on those below—and a page count a bit gratuitous for such a read. HOWEVER, within that excessive page count you will also find, sharply entertaining dialogue that’s convincingly witty and shockingly blunt that will keep you laughing along with the Bennett family throughout.

Eligible and I had a bit of a tug-of-war over my reader feelings for the first few chapters, I’ll admit. The dialogue struck me as funny, yes, even ingenious, but also superficial and surface-deep, if that. Initially, the characters struck me as two-dimensional chalk outlines that just happened to speak with droll absurdity that worked. Ah, but then I got to know the Bennett sisters a little better! If Sittenfeld was aiming for jaunty and clever, she certainly hit the nail on the head and was able to keep it consistent throughout. The writing was anecdotal, sometimes to its detriment and at times to its credit, but highly entertaining most of the time.

I must say that I’d be completely misleading you if I didn’t prepare soon-to-be readers for that chapter formatting, though. Some will love it, because it made the read feel that it was moving along faster—helpful when you’re holding almost 500 pages of what is essentially light-read chick lit in your hand—but for those of you who want to be profoundly engrossed and deeply invested in your characters, you may find this to be a bother. I straddled this line. There were times when I was practically dizzy with all of the vignette-type chapters sprawled out here, several of them less than a page long (that goes for pages on your phone, Kindle, iPad—less than a page anywhere, on any reading medium, really). I felt inundated by 200 flash fictions, which just happened to link together into a full-length story. At times I found it to be slightly annoying; sometimes I loved it because it seemed to make the read feel lightning fast, and sometimes it made me feel disconnected from the characters and their world because there wasn’t enough there in the chapter to pull me in. In the end, I think both sides canceled each other out for me, and it was fine.

Eligible definitely could’ve been cut down though. I don’t believe for a second that the editor didn’t notice those superfluous chapters that led nowhere—anecdotes about the past and random streams of consciousness—which should’ve been yanked out, because that definitely contributed to the relatively high page count and my antsyness toward the end. But aside from that last round of edits that went undone, this was a really funny and entertaining read. In the end, I did end up caring about the characters once I settled in—Darcy was my favorite, by far. Sittenfeld gets extra kudos for the way that this one came full circle. If you’ve ever read Austen’s classic on which this one is based, you basically knew how it would end, but Sittenfeld managed to toss in plenty of surprises along the way. I also liked the way that the title was used as a double entendre throughout this novel. Well done.

All in all, I found Eligible to be a jaunty little read that smacked of WASPy delights. It would make for a brilliant movie, likely better than it read, though I enjoyed it on a whole. The characters had wit and flair that would translate well on the silver screen. And, I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention my appreciation for the way that Sittenfeld handled Mrs. Bennetts’ casual xenophobia, cooly admonishing her as ridiculous, foolish and behind the times with just the right hint of “just the way it is.” That aspect added an extra layer of funny in a way that could have easily fallen flat or warranted an eye roll (like its counterpart The Nest, which I have also reviewed. If you’re a chick-lit lover, or even curious about the retelling of an Austen classic, this one will really work for you. Indeed, if you were a fan of The Nest, Eligible will work for you as well, because this one is definitely its much prettier younger cousin that you’ll be glad you chose instead).

So, keeping in mind that this was light-read material not intended to be the next Harper Lee brainchild, I give this one an easily attained 4 stars. ****

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Profile Image for Anne.
3,787 reviews69k followers
January 29, 2022
2.5 stars

I didn't realize this was a NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER when I picked it up. If I had, I probably would have lowered my expectations a bit. Chick-lit isn't my preferred genre to start with, and usually anything on a list like that turns out to be a miss for me. So I try to go into those sorts of books with the idea that it probably won't end up being a favorite. And I'm not saying it in that 'hip outsider' I'm not MAINSTREAM like you cows way, or in a pretentious I only watch PBS way. I'm kind of a dork, and a lot of these books just don't hit me in the feels like they do everyone else.
But I want them to!
So, I keep reading them. Trying to fit in...

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Anyway. This was (to me) sorta draggy in parts. Especially in the middle.
But!
I did think it was a good updated version of P&P that stayed true to the feeling of the original.

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I thought it was really cool that Liz was almost 40. I mean, she was supposedly old maidish in the original, but there's no way a girl in her early 20s would be considered a spinster at that age now. In fact, I'm not even sure spinster is a word anymore...
But the point is, a woman in her late 30s would probably feel the pressure of a biological clock more than a younger woman.
Oh! And speaking of that dreaded pressure, I absolutely loved that Liz didn't want kids. Ever. Fantastic! I think that's a sentiment that needs to be tossed out there more often in chick-lit. Happily Ever After doesn't need to include a child. They're awesome inclusions to your life, but at the end of the day it's still your life, and that isn't the right choice for everyone.
Because seriously, Jesus...

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One thing that got on my nerves (at first) was what seemed to be an attempt to cram in all the different talking points. Getting IVF as a single woman, transgender couples, reality tv, racism, eating disorders, etc. I ended up rolling my eyes by the middle of the book because it started to feel like the author was just trying to see how many Dr. Phil episodes she could pack into one story.
But then I took a step back and thought...maybe that's just the landscape we live in and it should be crammed in? I mean, most of those things are a part of my life or the life of someone I know and love. So.

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The only thing I truly disliked was the weird and unnecessary proposal at the end. It didn't fit with the tone of the rest of the book and it made me cringe.
BUT.
I'm a bit of an outsider to this genre, and I think that's going to affect my enjoyment of the story. So take that into consideration when I say that while it was ok, it was just not entirely my cuppa.

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Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,114 reviews1,977 followers
October 26, 2016
I really enjoyed this one! I am a Jane Austen fan and Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books. Rewrites like this are always a worry because sometimes terrible liberties are taken with the original. However I found Eligible to be everything it should be!
To enjoy it fully you really need to have read the original several times. I have not read anything by Curtis Sittenfeld before but she has a really light touch and a great sense of humour just as Austen herself had. For this reason Sittenfeld's characters came to life in exactly the same way they did in the original. Of course a few things have to change as the story is rewritten into the modern day and Darcy and Lizzie's romance is a lot more than just glances and smiles - a lot more.
The whole thing was very well written and very entertaining. I laughed my way through it.
Very well done Ms Sittenfeld and I will be reading more of your work as soon as possible!
Profile Image for Jenny.
329 reviews8 followers
January 15, 2016
* Based on a reading of an ARC

I finish about half of the book and to prevent myself from bashing my head against the wall and causing serious bodily harm, I decided to stop reading. I didn't want to give this book a star but since I can't write a review without giving a star...

I just don’t think this book and I were compatible. Maybe Fiction-Romance (Chicklit) of these days are like this but I’ll not excuse the author of certain things that goes beyond the compatibility.

Here are a few of reasons why I dislike this book:

• Missing the essence of two of the most famous fictional characters of this genre – Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet
• Laziness of writing or should I say lack of writing or both. This is 500 pages long but there are a lot of blank spaces.
• Where is the tension -> romance?

I can go on but I'm not going to give any more time to this book then what I've already given. I'm going to go into my happy place and re-watch the movie version of Pride & Prejudice from 2005.
Profile Image for Tyler Goodson.
171 reviews121 followers
December 1, 2015
The best thing I can say about Eligible is that I would have loved it even if it had nothing to do with Pride and Prejudice. The second best thing I can say about Eligible is that it is a head-spinningly good adaptation. The writing is sharp, and the characters are refreshingly complicated. They feel real enough to pass on the street. Familiar and surprising in all the ways it needed to be, every feeling I wanted to feel was felt, and feelings I didn't expect to feel were felt, too. It didn't matter that I knew what would happen, I was always amazed by how it happened. Was Darcy perfect? Yes. Was Lydia (mostly) horrible? Yes. Was Mary secretly the best? ALSO YES. Reading Eligible was like meeting a friend you haven't seen in a while--let's say in 200 years--and realizing they are still the same warm, smart, funny, wonderful person underneath their new haircut.
Profile Image for Sam.
142 reviews304 followers
February 7, 2017
Eligible, oh Eligible. I have very mixed feelings about this book. As an elevated beach read type of book, I think Eligible more or less works on the whole. As a "modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice", it hit highs and lows, and is probably average overall versus the Austen sequel/retelling/zombie-fied other titles out there. As a work of literary fiction, the humorous writing is strong, but the observational and storytelling aspects felt fairly unoriginal: I was expecting sly, incisive prose in observing modern mating rituals and social tribes of the 21st century in America as Austen had her wit and wisdom in spades observing those rituals and patterns of the landed gentry in 18th century England, and instead felt like ideas and observations weren't fully fleshed out or written about in an intelligent way. This was most noticeable when Sittenfeld tried to tackle things like race or sex or orientation, it came off trite and forced, as though these things were being shoehorned in to show how inclusively she could expand Austen's world. That said, it was very easy reading, and I did enjoy parts of my reading experience. I vacillated between two and three stars, but ultimately chose to go with three stars: despite some of the problems I had with it, I liked it well enough during and it faded from my mind quickly enough, though I suppose I should say I only read it because it set out to "update" Pride and Prejudice, and having read it, I can say now I really didn't need to read this at all, but I could see this bringing up some good discussion. But for Austen fans, it's probably worth picking up and skimming the early chapters to see if it's for you.

Rather than a full review (since P&P is fairly well known in terms of plot), I'll highlight what did and did not work for me, and why.

What Worked for Me

- The reality show Eligible - the whole plot is framed in terms of a reality TV juggernaut show Eligible, and Bingley had been the past "bachelor" that the Bennets (minus Jane and Mr. Bennet) had watched, and his move to Cincinnati and return to practicing medicine inspired a strong update on the families of the area gossiping from Austen's time: instead, Googling and re-watching the season provide the background info. I wasn't sure how this would work, but I thought Sittenfeld did a really nice job incorporating the show and reality TV culture into the P&P plot: Caroline Bingley is now trying to use her brother to advance her own career and thrust him into spin-offs and reunions to build his brand.

- Mr. Bennet - while not quite as smart or as generous or even as good a father as the original Mr. Bennet, this updated version gets most of the best one and two liners in the novel, and his sarcasm, wit, and general unconcern for the feelings of his wife and others made him a nice, scene-stealing character in this update. As examples:

-in relation to Chip Bingley being called the crybaby from the previous season of Eligible after being pursued by twenty-five women: "I don't suppose that any of you can appreciate the terror a man might feel being so outnumbered," Mr. Bennet said. "I often weep, and there are only six of you."

-about downsizing their home to save money: "If your mother and I lived somewhere smaller, we might have to actually see each other."

-after Liz somewhat strong arms Dr. Lucas into a payment plan and questions if mistakes had been made with her father's bill: "She shows her gratitude by accusing the people who saved my life of malfeasance," Mr. Bennet said. "As you can imagine, her mother and I are very proud."

-Side Characters Charlotte Lucas I might say is even better fleshed out in Eligible than in the original, and her union with Willie, who is not quite as cringe worthy as the original Mr. Collins, provides some entertainment and obersvation about real aspects of coupledom. Caroline Bingley is a more open, obvious bitch, but is fun for some moments of snark, and where she ultimately ends up feels entirely accurate and on point.

What Didn't Work for Me

-Liz Bennet. Granted, there's a lot to live up to in terms of Austen's Elizabeth, a beloved, memorable, spirited, intelligent, passionate heroine who is absolutely up there in the pantheon of great female characters in literature. I honestly found this Liz Bennet to be fairly dull in comparison: competent at her job but relatively unambitious, in love with an (extremely) emotionally unavailable man for years (one of the Wickhams in the retelling), and apt to behave more like a twenty-something in terms of her reactions and dialogue, rather than a thirty-eight year old woman IMO. I'd also say that outside of Jane, we get the feeling that Liz takes care of (really nags and manages) her family out of obligation rather than desire, and she has little good feelings about any of them. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth feels the mortification of her family's impropriety, but we're also aware of her genuine love for her father, her efforts to help straighten out Kitty, her easy relationship with Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. There's no such familial ties here for this Liz. And ultimately, Liz is just not as smart, as sparkling, as fun as Elizabeth Bennet, so the parts between Liz and Darcy are nowhere near as compelling as the interactions between Elizabeth and Darcy in the original. So that's a pretty big miss for me on this book.

-Big Issues Sittenfeld kind of sprinkles racism, transphobia, sexual orientation, anti-Semitism, and general ignorance throughout, and it's not done subtly or with any transcendent point or idea in mind. Most of the these thoughts and ideas are fed to Mrs. Bennet. In the original, we're always aware of the flaws of Mrs. Bennet - she's an ill-mannered, boastful, social-climbing, anxious, childish woman, but she's a source of amusement and she is genuinely concerned with the welfare of her daughters (and herself) since the estate is entailed to Mr. Collins. Here, she is a crude, ignorant bigot who has a shopping addiction and a limited worldview, and her hateful remarks about blacks, Jews, Asians, and trans people go more or less uncorrected by Liz or the other Bennet family members (with one exception late in the game). I suppose Sittenfeld assumes her reading audience will look down on Mrs. Bennet for her views, but it's still cringe-worthy as a reader to see "Liz, I don't know if Kitty and Shane are serious, but life can be very hard for mulatto children." and "He always had a funny look in his eye, and I didn't trust him" about the trans character go basically unchallenged by other characters in the novel. On sexual orientation, Mary's assumed closet lesbianism is treated as a crude joke by most members of the family, which came off very awkwardly and ignorant, and I believe Sittenfeld was trying for funny, but I honestly wasn't sure. And if Sittenfeld really dealt with the things she surfaces - interracial couples, trans and cis partners, anorexia, shopping addictions - perhaps I would be more ok, but instead these things feel deliberately invoked to portray a diverse, modern circle these Bennets are, yet because the ideas and issues aren't unpacked, and the trans and black characters don't have tremendous characterization or page time, it feels inauthentic and done for its own sake, rather than for storytelling OR to make some larger point. Even though it's set in 2013, weren't we past in the closet ribbing or fearing for biracial children by that point? I felt these big issues were introduced but not well executed, in some ways exploited to add surface diversity and complication, but ended up interfering with what could have been more a straightforward modern retelling. And from other reviews, I can see that some readers found this off-putting to the point of being distasteful, so this approach also alienated some of the audience.

- Marriages - Lydia's elopement (and the updated emergency needed to spur Liz to go home) was always going to happen from a storytelling perspective. I could even understand Jane agreeing to a quick marriage with Bingley based on her particular circumstances. But Liz and Darcy's engagement felt untrue to modern mores and the relationship that Sittenfeld built for them (which mostly consisted of snark and hate sex and only touched on true friendship and bonding). I felt like this area was one in which the modern retelling would not follow the original in lockstep, since dating practices have evolved as much as they have since the 18th century.

What Was Missing

- Lady Catherine De Bourgh / Kathy de Bourgh Now, Kathy is a feminist icon Liz interviews in her capacity as a journalist for Mascara , the magazine she writes for. And their conversation and Kathy's quotes are mildly interesting within the confines of this novel. But Lady Catherine's disapproval of Liz's family and a prospective match between her and Darcy is therefore reassigned to Caroline Bingley, and the "climactic" showdown is pretty benign, amounting to little more than a cat fight between rivals for Darcy's affections. I didn't even pick up on what the scene was supposed to be at first, and only after it ended did I understand that this little blip was meant to replace the absolute classic scene between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine in the original. "Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?" is modernized into Caroline saying "It's not a secret that your dad bankrupted your family. Your mom and sisters are idiots, and now you have a tranny brother-in-law. You're not girlfriend material for Fitzwilliam Darcy." All I can say to that is IT IS NOT TO BE BORNE.

-it is also a crime to not equal in spirit or even give a chance to showcase the best sentimental moment of Mr. Bennet from the original: " 'Well my dear', said he, when she ceased speaking, 'I have no more to say. If this be the case, he deserves you. I could not have parted with you, my Lizzy, to anyone less worthy.' " That said, this Liz is kind of bland, and Darcy (though better comparatively with his original) is also not much more than a handsome neurosurgeon, so I suppose Mr. Bennet would have no one to say it to.

At any rate, it's a read that engenders discussion, positively or negatively, and there's a lot to talk about, so I'd ultimately say it's worth reading and is mostly entertaining, though its success as a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice is very much subjective, and I was quite mixed in my overall feelings on this read.

Profile Image for Emily.
296 reviews1,514 followers
February 7, 2019
Well, I finished this.

CW for transphobia, racism, anti-semitism, homophobia towards the end of this review.

I don't think I've ever read a book that gives off the distinct impression that its author hates its characters. Not knowing the authorial intent, obviously I can't say whether or not that judgement is necessarily true. But while I was reading, I found myself repeating the same thought: "Wow. I don't think the author actually likes any of her characters."

Likability can be touchy, particularly in regards to female characters, but that's not really my problem with this. I can get behind an "unlikeable" character, particularly if that character is a woman or a girl. But when a character is unlikeable because they are incredibly entitled... My emotional investment goes straight out of the window.

And the characters in this are all incredibly entitled. The fact that they are reimagined characters--this is a Pride and Prejudice retelling--doesn't work in the books favor. I'm all for changing things in adaptations or retellings, so long as the heart of a story and its characters remain. This book was the opposite--all surface-level similarities, but none of the heart.

The two most sympathetic characters of the Bennett family, Liz and Jane, are (as I already said) entitled and also incompetent. Jane is a 40-year-old yoga instructor who has decided she would like to be a mother. However, we soon learn that not only does she not pay her own rent (and it's implied she never has), she has no financial plan, no parenting plan, NOTHING that you would expect a hopefully-expectant mother to have considering her present-day financial problems and even greater ones on the horizon.

Liz is supposedly a great reporter. Well, after months of trying to get in contact with a woman she's writing a profile of, a woman who's a blend of Sheryl Sandberg and Gloria Steinem, when she finally hears back from a publicist and is told this Very Important and Busy Lady can talk in 5 minutes, Liz LIES AND SAYS SHE CAN'T TALK BECAUSE SHE IS WORRIED SHE WILL SOUND OUT OF BREATH FROM HER EARLIER RUN. I just... I can't articulate how ridiculous this sounds to me. If your job is dependent on an exclusive interview with an incredibly important person, YOU TAKE THE FUCKING CALL.

Now if those were my only complaints, I would have probably given this book two stars, said it wasn't for me, and called it a day.

BUT THEN. Oooohhh but then...

For those familiar with the plot of P&P, you'll know about the scandal storyline with Lydia and Wickham. In the original story, Wickham is a villain. He's not a villain in this version. Instead, it is revealed two thirds of the way through the book that the Wickham-equivalent character is a trans man. They replaced a villain with a trans man. I kid you the fuck not. The "scandal" faced by this universe's Lydia is that she is in love with a trans man. First of all, using "surprise trans" as a plot device is fucking gross. Secondly, context matters. Given the context of the original story, this was a BIG HUGE MASSIVE NOPE for me. In what world did this seem like a good decision?

Then there's the fact that the whole family is just casually transphobic once this is revealed. Liz's first question upon hearing this news is, "Does he have a penis?" Mrs. Bennett is incredibly transphobic, to the point where she cuts off communication with her daughter and they don't reconnect until it is explained to her by another character that being trans is--again, I kid you the fuck not--a "birth defect."

There is some lip service paid to how saying these types of things is not "politically correct." The same lip service is BARELY paid in relation to Mrs. Bennett saying she doesn't trust Black people or Jews, and Lydia's constant "joking" that Mary is a lesbian. But at the end of the day, all of this falls short. Ultimately, none of these views are actually challenged. There's several references to things not being "PC," but at the end of the day it's pretty much just a lot of, "Ugh! There goes Mom, embarrassing us with her comments again!" Bigotry is almost entirely framed as an embarrassment to the other family members, rather than as an Actual Bad Thing with real world consequences beyond that familial embarrassment.

You can probably already guess this, but I Do Not Recommend.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 148 books37.5k followers
Read
May 12, 2016
Copy received courtesy of NetGalley

These days there seem to be a number of fictional conversations with classics, with varying degrees of success. I have trouble with a lot of the Austen ones (in spite of their being among the most marketable) mostly because I’m oriented on Austen’s text, rather than the films or adaptations such as the Bridget Jones books.

A lot of them I end up abandoning, but this modern version of Pride and Prejudice I gulped down in two sittings, long as it is. It has a lot going for it, though as the last third drew closer, this is where I paused because it wasn’t quite working for me.

It finishes with a flourish and as a novel it made me smile, but as an updated P&P it didn’t quite work.

I had to take a couple of days to figure out why.

Every reader perceives a different Pride and Prejudice. The one I reread is a bewitchingly brilliant combination of sharply delineated insight into real motivations and actions, a compassionate yet satiric voice, set in the world as it ought to be.

Most of the Austen sequels/prequels/rewrites/fantasies don’t work for me because they reuse Austen’s characters only without the insight, or they repeat the story flatly or update it in awkward ways that don’t work for modern motivations, or they are mean-spirited, etc.

Sittenfeld does an admirable job of taking the essence of most of the characters and recreating them in a modern setting so that they are recognizable, which adds to the fun because they are reacting as contemporary people do to contemporary situations, and yet the substrate is still there—with two exceptions.

I can see why Sittenfeld chose those changes, but the entire episode, plus the setting of the end, was what made the story as a P&P retelling not quite work for me.

The thing the films get right, though some fail in other regards, is in depicting the world as Austen would have loved seeing it. Jane Austen deliberately set her sights on achieving a harmonious world full of beauties—nature and fine houses—and her morally upright characters were rewarded with happy lives in such settings.

At our distance, her books still work because certain unfortunate period attitudes are glossed in favor of the romantic upswell of that setting. We no longer dress in velvets, lace, silk, men in flattering tailcoats, women with ringlets on graceful necks. We revel in the glories of Pemberly and the Georgian order of London streets, without being aware of what Austen’s readers were: the stink of sewage in those streets in the summer, the discomfort of corsets, and the fact that it took an army of laborers to maintain those stately homes in which the lucky few got to live so charmingly.

When we read Jane Austen now, we can escape into an England that never was, but that Jane Austen wanted her characters to live in: everyone living well among the beauties of nature, raising happy families in those settings, who will carry on the generations in order and beauty and serenity, advancing civilization toward moral growth and human harmony.

Well, what Sittenfeld gives us is the jangle and jumble of amoral contemporary life. To begin with Liz is sleeping with a married man (the Wickham character). Liz’s idea of making dull parties fun is getting drunk. She hates the idea of having kids, and her parents’ home is falling apart and needs to be sold. Reality TV is a big factor throughout, an ironic commentary on ‘real life’ and ‘true’ life . . .

Everything, in short, is there—insight, humor, the twists and turns faithfully updated so as to be recognizable in today’s world—but none of it is the civilized, harmonious and principled world as it ought to be. I smiled as I closed the book, but I had zero wish to imagine their lives afterward. I expect that many younger, hipper readers are going to feel just the opposite.
Profile Image for Julie Ehlers.
1,111 reviews1,372 followers
January 17, 2018
I love Pride and Prejudice but I'm no purist, and I'm a big fan of Curtis Sittenfeld, so Eligible should have been an obvious slam dunk for me. Still, I was a bit apprehensive. Could Pride and Prejudice really be updated to the present day? (I know Helen Fielding did it successfully, but Bridget Jones's Diary was a much looser adaptation.) I was worried this just wouldn't work, or that its themes would cause it to tip over into the chick lit everyone always accuses Sittenfeld of writing even though she doesn't really write chick lit at all. But I shouldn't have worried. Obviously if anyone could pull this off, it would be Curtis Sittenfeld, and she did. All of the characters were updated successfully (Liz in particular), the Cincinnati setting worked really well, the writing was great as usual, a lot of it was really funny, and, like all of Sittenfeld's novels, it was a page-turner. I initially wasn't sure about the reality-show angle, but I ended up being amused by it and thought it added a bit of intrigue to what could have been a kind of anticlimactic ending. All in all, a very satisfying reading experience.

I can think of only one drawback to Eligible. While I was reading and enjoying it yesterday, it occurred to me that the time Sittenfeld spent writing this update was time she wasn't able to spend working on a brand-new original novel straight from her own imagination, and now it will probably be at least another couple of years until that novel arrives. But if my only complaint about this novel is that it extends the time until the author puts out another novel... well, that's a pretty good place for a reader to be.
Profile Image for Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ .
773 reviews552 followers
June 8, 2016
1.5★

Received this Advance Reader's Copy in return for an honest review. Thanks very much for that.

First I would like to say how very impressed I am with the speed Random House, New York, UPS & Post Haste Couriers New Zealand delivered this book to me. I've had parcels posted within NZ arrive slower.

& I was so excited to get this book. I'd heard about the Austen Project (modern retellings of Jane Austen's masterpieces by famous modern writers) & heard that while the earlier books were disappointing, this one was pretty good.

The earlier books must have been diabolical!

There were things that were handled well. I liked the Cincinnati setting. This is an American city I knew nothing about & I was glad to find out it's regional character. The scene setting of the Bennetts as a once comfortably well off family living far, far beyond their means was persuasively handled. I accepted the reason for the changes to the daughter's ages & the large gaps between them. Mary was well realised & I felt the crass vulgarity of the younger sisters worked.

& Darcy was pretty good.

But...& to say much more than this would be heading to Spoiler City. What the heck, let's go there!

This isn't a retelling, it's a reinvention.

Normally with a rating this bad I wouldn't touch another work by the author with a barge pole! But as Sittenfeld was working to a format & she did have things moving along at a brisk pace I may try one of her wholly original works in the future. I'm just hoping she doesn't usually work with "chapters"like this. 181 chapters (some only a paragraph long) & lots of blank spaces. In reality this book would be around 300 pages I think.

Read with the Jane Austen Group & it has been lovely to meet you all!


Profile Image for Rebekah.
728 reviews955 followers
August 31, 2016
This book was awful. Yet I finished it. Of course I did because it’s a retelling of Pride and Prejudice and I wanted to see the betrayal of Elizabeth and Darcy! I knew it was going to be terrible within the first few chapters and I debated wither nor not I should even review this book because I hated it so much.

I want to spoil it so bad with all the stuff that is in it. Can I? Please? No? ok… nope I gotta tell ya.

I struggled through the whole book and could not bring myself to care about any of the characters.

I felt the author replaced the original story by trying to add supposed shock factors such as….a white person dating a black person. *gasp* really? look at us now?! that is not shocking. Add in transgender, homosexuality, invetro-infertilization of a single woman, racism, ignorance, using trans and racial punchlines throughout the story and you’ve got this supposed contemporary remake of a classic…I didn’t like it.

I hated the uppity feel of Elizabeth our heroine, I felt like she was such a freaking snob and that she knew what’s best and knew it all and therefore better than everyone else. I hated her using Darcy for “hate sex” that SOMEHOW got them to fall in love. stupid.

I hated Darcy and for being used by Elizabeth!

Overall, I just….hated it. I really felt like all these characters and their social whatever were being used as a “look at me! aren’t I great! Look what I added in this book!” no. it was terrible.

Sexual Content: heavy
Language: heavy
Violence: mild
Drugs/Alcohol: mild
Profile Image for Leanne.
129 reviews283 followers
March 6, 2016
I admit it: I've never read Pride and Prejudice. I've never even really had the slightest inclination to read Pride and Prejudice. I have found that classics are not for me and I've accepted this as a part of my reading life, regardless of what I may possibly be missing out on. The only reason I (desperately) wanted to read Eligible was for Curtis Sittenfeld, because I have loved every book she's ever written and I would follow her anywhere.

So with Eligible, I got the best of both worlds - I got to read something new from Curtis and I got to at least partially understand the whole story of P&P and the legendary coupling that is Elizabeth & Darcy. Obviously I can't comment on how faithful an adaptation it was or how effective the inevitable deviations and modernizations were, but what I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed it (and powered through it in only 2 days!)

It's not without flaws - I missed Curtis' signature first person narration and felt it a bit lacking in the detailed character introspection that she usually does so precisely. There's also a quality of formality and a few showy word choices that I've never noticed in her previous works and can only assume stem from its Jane Austen roots. But aside from that, Eligible is just so overwhelmingly witty and fun and feels like a fraction of its 500-odd pages. She does an excellent job of weaving in various social issues (racism, homophobia, technology and its various challenges, the somehow still-present stigma of an unmarried woman in her 30s/40s...) with romantic comedy threads, and it all feels sparkly, fresh and realistic. Liz is a protagonist you root for and the secondary characters are all fairly developed and refreshingly free of clichés.

Very lucky to receive this one from Netgalley - even if it means I will now have to wait even longer for Curtis Sittenfeld's next one.
Profile Image for Mariah Roze.
1,015 reviews919 followers
July 18, 2016
I read this book for my hometown book club and I really enjoyed it! This is a modern take on Pride and Prejudice, but I have never read the classic version. Still, I enjoyed this book fully. I encourage reading this book even if you haven’t read the classic novel.

Parts of the book were hilarious and the couples and dating were funny too!

I truly enjoyed this book; a solid 4 stars!!

P.s. This book was also my E book for the A-Z book title challenge :)
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,320 followers
May 31, 2016
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

----Jane Austen


Curtis Sittenfeld, an American bestselling author, pens an enticing and modern version of Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice in her retelling book, Eligible that weaves the portrait of the upper-class and an affluent family in the society, among whom the mother of the family with the onset of her eldest daughter's fast approaching fortieth birthday decides to play the match maker for the her five unmarried daughters with the most eligible and rich man in Cincinnati.


Synopsis:

A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

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.



Mrs. Bennet is determined to marry off her five unmarried daughters to some rich bachelor and for that if she has to play the cupid or the matchmaker than she would play that role diligently. Liz Bennet lives in NYC with her elder sister, Jane, who is thirty-nine years old and soon will be forty, and after Jane's so many failed relationships, she is sure that she has passed that age to attract any suitable marriage material man. Liz, on the other hand, is in a live-in relationship with her long -time friend-cum-work colleague yet a married man, Jasper. On Mrs Bennet's request, both these women travel back to their hometown, Cincinnati. And upon their arrival, Jane is soon forced to meet Chip Bingley, the handsome Ivy-league doctor, who is ready to settle down with the right woman. And on the very first meeting itself, these two eligible suitors for one another hit it off. But Chip's best-friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, thinks otherwise about the well-behaved Bennet sisters and also about their not-so-perfect looks. In fact, Darcy plays the evil card to disrupt Chip and Jane's complex relationship. Hence Liz turns a blind eye to all those brooding and good looks of Darcy. Its a long journey for Liz amidst her family's A-class troubles, her parent's decision to sell their mansion, her sisters' love-life dramas, before she realizes that her heart too is longing for the very idea of matrimony that her sisters are so enthusiastically accepting it.

The author has flawlessly captured the very similar portrait of Austen's popular novel, Pride and Prejudice with the Bennet family drama and their complicated yet hilarious journey to matrimony for the five unmarried sisters. And not to mention, the author has also captivated Austen's famous character of Mr. Darcy in modernized version. And honestly, Austen's dedicated fans will certainly agree and enjoy this modern version of Pride and Prejudice. And for that I would like to give the author a big round of applause for putting so much effort into this story and representing it just in a classic Austen way but with a flair of modern perspective.

The author's writing style is excellent laced with humor and emotions that will make the readers laugh most of the times and feel sentimental at times. The narrative style is also very evocative and will feel the readers heart with a sense of nostalgia for the literary works of one of the greatest author of this world. Although the dialogues are hilarious, short and crisp with an aura of expressiveness. The story is a common one, yet Sittenfeld's unique and arresting writing style will make the readers addicted to it and will keep them glued till the very end. The pacing of the story is slow as it has so many layers and so many background stories that it might feel bit tiring at times to keep up with the stories of so many characters.

Similarly, like Austen, Sittenfeld, too has portrayed the similar and myriad cast of crazy characters into her story and her portrayal is apt and extremely lovely. The characters will keep the readers amused with their misdirected and wrong moves while trying to settle down or make a living, as three of the sisters are still dependent on their old parents money and roof of their house. The main character, Liz, at first, might feel like bit bossy but then comes across someone like a saint, who devoid of her own troubles will jump into her family's problems at first. Liz is an independent, modern woman who does not need a man to define her life or her success. And she is the epitome of all the modern day career-minded women. Darcy is the same old Darcy who is equally rich, flamboyant, successful, judgemental and the key player in almost all the sisters' journey to matrimony. The rest of the supporting characters are highly relatable and extremely funny.

The author has depicted the journey towards marriage with a modern-day mind frame as she has highlighted the issues faced these days in arranged marriages, how strenuous it is know a stranger inside and out, chosen by someone else to be one's soulmate. Moreover, the author has featured the issues of transgender and other such social stigma sensitively yet with a positive sarcasm. The love story among the characters are passionately yet maturely painted into the story line although with an ability to make the readers feel the love that the characters are feeling. As it is evident from the author's writing style that she has poured out all her best emotions while penning this story.

In a nutshell, this is a compelling Austen-themed novel which will keep the readers entertained and intrigued. Austen fans must grab a copy of this book for sure.

Verdict: A perfect Austenish rich contemporary novel of marriage and family drama.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Harper Collins India for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

Profile Image for Cathrine ☯️ .
583 reviews326 followers
June 11, 2016
2.5★
Well, hmm.
I drank 2 glasses of Granache Blanc as I finished this up. I was thinking I was too Mary-like in my response to this novel and it might help me be more Lydia-like. Perhaps if I had imbibed the entire way.

"Far be it from me, my dear sister, to depreciate such pleasures. They would doubtless be congenial with the generality of female minds. But I confess they would have no charms for me. I should infinitely prefer a book." —Mary to her sister Lydia in Pride and Prejudice.

Me too Mary, but not this one. My plan did not work but I'm sure liking this wine. ☺︎
The author is a talented writer and I would still like to check out one of her other books. This one I could have left on the shelf for someone else.
Profile Image for Cassie  R. (cassie-loves-reading).
109 reviews36 followers
April 19, 2016
It is very rare for me to pick up a book and not finish it. Typically if it happens it's because I grow bored, it doesn't often happen because I dislike the book so much i don't see a point in continuing to read it. I, unfortunately, didn't see a point in finishing this book.

I don't often read contemporary romance or classic retellings so maybe I just wasn't going into this book with the right mindset. The fact is that I loved Pride and Prejudice and I hated what this book did to that wonderful story. The characters that I grew to love in the original were so different from what I expected that it was practically painful to read about them in this new setting. Is this what would have become of the Bennet's in the modern day? Maybe, but if so I didn't need to know.

I didn't like the way the story was adapted and I thought the writing was so-so. I only got about 30% of the way through this book before I had to stop but what I did read involved way too many mentions of Reality TV and Crossfit.

After reading several other reviews that went into other storylines that the author introduces I felt like I should put the book down before it got worse. This is Pride and Prejudice dumbed down, way down. While the original story is still a large and apparent influence this adaption didn't hold any of the charm or smarts of the original.
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