Good Minds Suggest: Curtis Sittenfeld's Favorite Books for Pride and Prejudice LoversApril, 2016
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single doctor (who moonlights as a reality star) must be in want of a wife. This isn't Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice—it's Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible. In this gleeful retelling, the Bennets, the Bingleys, and, of course, Darcy collide at a Fourth of July barbecue in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sittenfeld, the bestselling author of Prep and American Wife, uses a modern setting to shine new light on beloved characters. Jane yearns for a child as she prepares to turn 40; Liz struggles to stay on top of her job and her father's staggering health bills; and new-in-town neurosurgeon Darcy tries everything at his disposal—even Wikipedia—to alter a rather disastrous first impression. As is the case with Austen's novels, the joy is not in discovering if there will be a "happily ever after" but in accompanying the characters on their journey to it. Sittenfeld shares her favorite stories that embrace the humor and heart of Pride and Prejudice.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
"A group of quasi-misfits meets each month to talk about Jane Austen's novels. All of Fowler's characters possess various secrets and quirks that are revealed gradually and charmingly. This is a warm and very funny book in which the author's love for Austen is clear."
The Position by Meg Wolitzer
"I see Wolitzer as a kind of modern-day Austen in her ability to be simultaneously satirical and affectionate toward her characters and also in the elegance of her sentences. This novel, which takes place in 2005-ish, follows the lives of the adult children of a couple who, in the 1970s, wrote a popular book much like The Joy of Sex. Wolitzer insightfully captures the vagaries of both familial and romantic relationships."
Longbourn by Jo Baker
"Baker tells another version of Pride and Prejudice, but this time it's from a young female servant's perspective. Baker clearly did lots of research, and her details are vivid and perfect. She also boldly prompts readers to look at Austen's beloved characters from new and not always flattering angles."
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
"Much the way Austen skewered the aspirations and pretensions of 19th-century English villagers, Semple skewers the aspirations and pretensions of modern-day upper-middle-class Seattle dwellers. This is a fun, fast read. I don't love flying, yet the novel kept me thoroughly entertained on a transatlantic flight a few years ago."
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
"Eugenides chronicles a love triangle between three recent Brown University graduates in the early 1980s: brilliant, troubled Leonard; spiritually inclined, romantically thwarted Mitchell; and thoughtful good girl Madeleine. Madeleine's reading of classics such as Pride and Prejudice have not (surprise, surprise) prepared her all that well for the complications of real love. I found this novel incredibly smart and moving."
Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Best Pride and Prejudice Sequels, Variations, and Adaptations