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Group Read: Eligible > Part 3: Chap. 112 thru 152

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message 1: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Please begin your comments here on this section of the book.


message 2: by Emilia (last edited Jun 05, 2016 08:40AM) (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments Ok, so this section of the book confused me. This is going to be spoilerific, so please read at your own discretion:

1) Kathy De Bourgh is really nice here. I guess the author is playing with our expectations, but again she is stealing some of the comedy from the original novel and replacing it with what in my opinion are just platitudes. I think perhaps this is also meant to signal the actual theme of the book. So in the original, Lady Catherine was supposed to signal that not all is what it seems, and it was supposed to be an ironic twist that Darcy has embarrassing family too. She was also the extreme version of pride, which contrasts with Darcy's, so that we can see that he's not actually so very bad in comparison. Here, because Katherine de Bourgh is just a top feminist with no negative characteristics, I think she is meant to signal the feminist overtones of the book. However, I don't know if this was intentional, but I suspect not, the superficial way in which the philosophy is covered in Lizzy's interview with her, echoes the superficial way in which these themes are addressed in the book too, so in a way, I feel like I can see what Sittenfeld is doing here, I just don't think she was successful in doing it.

2) I am very sadly finding that Darcy/Lizzy chemistry is not there. Of course, this was an issue for me in the previous section, because of the weird sex scenes, which ruined it all for me. I'm not very conservative, personally, and I am not overly precious about all my romance heroines being virgins or anything like that, but for chemistry to exist I just need a certain tension, and when two characters go to bed together a part of that tension I feel is kind of resolved. In this section, I am finding it difficult to understand why Lizzy can boldly offer sex to a guy, but then finds it difficult to tell him she likes him after he had already told her he liked her. This seems weirdly inconsistent. I suppose maybe she is shy because it matters to her now, when before it didn't, but it's just so weird that she turned from this cynical, bitter woman who offers sex to guys she doesn't even like and accepts Jasper's weird marital situation without a problem, into this girlish girl who gets excited about looking cute. I mean - is that really the story arc of Elizabeth Bennet!?

3) I hope someone can explain to me why Lydia and Ham's elopement necessitates Lizzy taking a flight home *that very minute*. I have a new crease between my eyebrows from trying to puzzle this one out. I mean, exactly what is she trying to accomplish? I get that she wants to be with her family, and that she predicts it's going to be a shock to her mother's system (though why she should care that her mother might be upset about this is beyond me), but she behaves like her sister was hit by a car and is dying and she might never see her again. Which is not what is happening. She just went off to marry her boyfriend. Honestly, this book...

Hmpf.


message 3: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 123 comments I totally missed the Kathy de Bourgh thing. Honestly, I didn't even realize they were the same character (yes, even though they have the same name), because it is such a different situation that has nothing to do with the original.

I did feel a bit of romantic tension in this section, at least while Liz was in CA. I've said before that I don't really like her character, and that's true. But I think when Sittenfeld had Liz sleep with Darcy, it was because the character was mad at putting her life on hold for Jasper for so long and just wanted to do something that was, in her eyes at least, completely ridiculous. When she realized there was actually some potential there and that she liked Darcy back, she probably started behaving a little more like she did when she was first interested in Jasper or anyone else.

I can even see why Liz rushed to her mother's side. She's in unfamiliar territory. A lot of things have changed in her life recently, and she recognizes a situation that she knows how to handle. My biggest disappointment with this section is Lydia's situation. In the original, Wickham is despicable and destroys the reputation of every girl he goes near. Lydia's elopement is negative from any viewpoint. In this new version, she and Ham didn't do anything wrong. Her parents need some time to get used to it, but her reputation isn't ruined forever and in everyone's eyes. It would have made more sense to have her run off with Jasper.

But as a completely separate book from Pride and Prejudice, I'm actually finding this interesting now. And I'm curious what happened with Darcy and Caroline?


message 4: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments Yes, I finished the book now, and it's not really Pride and Prejudice, is it? I mean, who's proud and prejudiced in it? I don't even know who's supposed to be eligible... but never mind.

Yes, the Lydia situation is weird. I can't say I understood any of it. I find Lizzy's relationship with her family weird, tbh. I know she wants to do good, but her managing her entire family like this... I don't know, my parents would kick me if I tried to do that to them. And if my brother eloped with a transgender person, it'd be something I'd discuss with my mum on Skype, maybe, but I think they'd all look at me funny if I took a flight home the same day, for no reason. And my parents are conservative and old. It'd still be weird and implausible.

And though I liked that a transgender person is in the novel - I don't like the way it is handled here. One of the first things Lizzy asks about when she finds out is Ham's penis. Then she googles about transgender people and realises that it was a ridiculous and rude thing to ask. Fair enough. But then the author still thinks it is necessary to clarify just how exactly Lydia and Ham have sex. There's another bit later in the novel, so I won't write about it here, but the point is that it's kind of like a man writing about an empowered, feminist woman only to then make sure to inform the reader that she has great boobs and legs up to here. It's just undermining her point. Which goes back to my comment about the superficiality of the feminism in this book. Despite Sittenfeld's apparent choice of direction, the women in this book are unstable, stupid, hysterical, unreliable, unpredictable and have trouble taking care of themselves. The men on the other hand are rich, have their lives together, are clever, very well educated, and only when they come in and everybody is safely married to one of them, can the women all calm down. This is not the case in the original, where marriage is necessary for socio-economic reasons, but Lizzy and Jane are perfectly reasonable human beings on their own, Jane in particular. I am not pleased.


message 5: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 300 comments Darcy in flip flops... now surely that is unforgivable! ;)


message 6: by Louise Sparrow (last edited Jun 05, 2016 04:03PM) (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 300 comments Argh I just got to the elopement, is she seriously meaning to compare that sort of prejudice with something that would originally have ruined Lydia's life and the reputations of her whole family?

I have not yet read the comments above by the way to avoid spoilers.


message 7: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 300 comments Well I have now read chapter 152 and I agree with Emily's comments above.

Has anyone read one of Sittenfeld's own novels? I'm just wondering if this is her usual style or if it suffers from trying to force a P&P story. (I haven't forgotten Death Comes To Pemberley)


message 8: by Nicky (new)

Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson | 13 comments Emily, I too, finished the book and will hold off some of my comments until we, as a group, get to the end. For this part of the book, my comment is that I don't find these characters true to their milieu. I suppose the author was attempting to update the disdain of Darcy as the family appeared to him in Pride and Prejudice but Mrs. Bennett and the younger sisters were just silly spoiled girls--not crass and vulgar. Lydia was the one who went off the rails and even she wasn't behaving crudely just being empty headed, stupid and selfish. I don't see the depth of societal comment that could have been here. There's plenty to skewer in this group in modern life. The only two people in the book who have some recognizable characteristics are Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. Everybody else seems to be from some other planet or maybe some other book.

And what happened to mean ole Lady Katherine de Burgh? What a great character and what a loss. She really got defanged in this one. Ditto Catherine Bingley--one of my favorite bitchy women. They were both central to the plot and to our understanding of pride and prejudice. And what about Charlotte and Cousin Willie. Nothing happened that had any of the pathos of Charlotte's choice to marry Mr. Collins. It's all beginning to seem like a checklist. Charlotte and Mr. Collins-check.

I'm not a by the book Austenite as I'm hardly discriminating in my choices of reading or seeing anything connected to Jane Austen with the exception of the zombie thing. I like all kinds of formats and one of my favorite movies in this vein is Bride and Prejudice--a Bollywood treatment of the story. It's full of fun and romance and obviously way off the charts from a Downton Abbey kind of setting. The big thing missing in this book for me is that sense of fun and romance.


message 9: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments Oh dear yes! I forgot to mention the side characters! Nicky, I so agree on that point. Basically all the negative characters (apart from Mrs Bennet and Caroline Bingley) are cutified or made into positive characters. And Mrs Bennet is not funny here, and Caroline Bingley comes off looking pathetic too. In the original, she has a sharp tongue, but she's actually pretty funny in her own right, it's just that she's not the real thing, like Lizzy is, that makes the difference. None of this is present here. Here she's just a gold-digging, possessive bitch, and that's it. And Mr Collins! What the hell happened to him?! Again, he's not funny. In the original he's a source of so much humour, and importantly, he is also a contrast to Mr Darcy - you, the reader, get a first hint of the fact that Mr Darcy is not a figure of ridicule, when Mr Collins comes along, and does look ridiculous. Here? He's there because he has to be, because this is Pride and Prejudice adaptation. Where is Charlotte's angst and/or practical mindedness? Ugh. Like you said, it's like the author had to check them off a list.


message 10: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments Louise Sparrow wrote: "Well I have now read chapter 152 and I agree with Emily's comments above.

Has anyone read one of Sittenfeld's own novels? I'm just wondering if this is her usual style or if it suffers from trying..."


Her writing credits seem really impressive, so I'm not sure what happened here!


message 11: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 467 comments I like the idea of the characters being “cutified,” Emily! I think one effect of all the film adaptations of P&P has been to soften the edges of the book; many people seem to see Jane Austen through a soft haze. That’s why I like to go back and reread the originals—like taking a deep whiff of a vinaigrette, or dumping an ice bucket over my head.

But this may also be a problem of modernization—a modern Elizabeth Bennet is not nearly so much at the mercy of her society, so people can be weird or self-centered or even mean and they have no power to do her real harm. The gift of independence!


message 12: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments Sure, the modern world will make certain things impossible, or open avenues which were closed to people 200 years ago, therefore changes will be necessary, but in this case I feel like the changes are lazy. Instead of giving us actually funny characters, to fill in the roles Jane Austen created in the original, we get props, who bear the same name and don't do anything at all to the plot of the novel, to Lizzy's development, to anything. They're just sort of there (for example, what's the point of Kathy de Bourgh in this book!?).

But, of course, it's a matter of opinion and taste. I am not much of a contemporary romance reader, to be honest, so it might be a taste thing. With Pride and Prejudice though, it's a difficult problem, because the novel means so much to so many people, so when someone takes the original material, strips it of all its nuance, adds nothing of interest it just feels... uncomfortable. But I might be overly precious here, and that's not the author's fault.


message 13: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 300 comments Well I have reached the end, and without giving anything away, I'd say I'd have been a lot happier with it if I'd just read the last part.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ For me, the whole story has come unglued. This started with Lydia's elopement with Ham. It's not a modern retelling, it's pretty much a reinvention.

If I wasn't so near the end I would dnf.


message 15: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Carol, I felt the same when I hit the end of this section. Nonetheless, I couldn't/didn't stop reading. I've finished the book without stopping at Chap 152, so I'll wait until the last section is discussed to comment further. But as Emily said earlier, "Honestly, this book. Hmpf."


message 16: by Karen (new)

Karen Sofarin | 27 comments I have finished, too and just returned my e-book to the library. I still have my hard copy, thank you Sarah. However, I must admit hat I am not sure I would ever crack this book again. I agree with so much of what Emily said in the part 3 discussion. Where is Lady Catherine? Either exclude her or make her a real presence. This was pathetic. And the Lydia/Ham elopement. If anything I would have made this more of a Lizzy storyline - but totally agree it is no reason to instantly fly home from a longed for breakfast on the West coast. This is cynical, depressing and not nearly witty enough to justify reading it. Although I am happy to recognize that the detailed discussion here has been a joy. Thanks to everyone for being so thoughtful in their responses.


message 17: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 467 comments I’ve been thinking about the Lady Catherine/Kathy de Bourgh question, and have a hypothesis. Lady Catherine strikes me as a capable woman, not unintelligent, who had no outlet for her capabilities. Jane Austen makes a comment about how she could not be more involved in the lives of the community had she been a justice of the peace—but of course she could not be a JP, or have any other kind of official function in the society she was born into. So she became an overbearing petty tyrant in the only ways she could.

Transplant such a woman into a society in which she is able to pursue a career, an intellectual life, and in general shape her life as she chooses. How would that change her? I think a plausible case could be made that she would no longer be a petty tyrant, but would in fact make a constructive contribution to the world—in short, she might become Kathy de Bourgh (who seems to be closely modeled on Germaine Greer).

All that said, I agree that Sittenfeld didn’t know what to do with the character, and that she pretty much just hangs there.


message 18: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments Yes, Abigail, probably that's what the author thought about Lady Catherine, but... she is a baronets wife and filthy rich in the original. It's not like she can't do anything. Lots of women at that time in her social position get involved in charitable stuff and other types of organisations. Of all the women in the book, she seems to be the most independent one! On the other hand, Sittenfeld could have made her point better by letting Charlotte be single. There's no need for her to go off with Willie Collins. That tragedy of a match is completely unnecessary in the 21 century. Yet she chooses to send her off to her doom anyway. I say doom, because he's kind of a weirdo, but then she changed him in this novel too, so I don't quite get him. Either way, there's no need for Charlotte to settle on him.


message 19: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 123 comments I don't think Charlotte and Mr. Collins's match in the original was a tragedy. Everyone always seems sad for Charlotte as though she'll be miserable, but she even says that she's content and happy with her practical decision. Sittenfeld makes Charlotte more desperate in this one (as she has with all of the characters, unfortunately), which I don't like. Charlotte could have dated Willie long distance or started working for him to better convey a sense of the original story.


message 20: by Emilia (last edited Jun 07, 2016 11:01PM) (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments I don't know, for my money the only modern interpretation of Charlotte that makes sense is the one on the Lizzy Bennet Diaries. Come to think of it, the Lydia crisis in that one is also brilliantly translated.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ Emily wrote: "I don't know, for my money the only modern interpretation of Charlotte that makes sense is the one on the Lizzy Bennet Diaries. Come to think of it, the Lydia crisis in that one is also brilliantly..."

I've put that on my to read list.

I guess interviewing Kathy de Bourgh gave Lizzie a job. It's not a favourite trope of mine - people able to leave jobs for months.


message 22: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments Oh, sorry Carol, I meant the youtube show: https://www.youtube.com/user/LizzieBe... --> in it Lizzy runs a vlog, in which she documents her family life. The focus is on the friendship and relationships between the sisters, and IMO it is done extremely well, very beautifully acted and cleverly written. It's worth a watch!


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ Emily wrote: "Oh, sorry Carol, I meant the youtube show: https://www.youtube.com/user/LizzieBe... --> in it Lizzy runs a vlog, in which she documents her family life. The focus is on the friendship and relation..."

The author has made it into a book as well The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su

I've just watched the first You Tube episode & thought it looked very promising! :)


message 24: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments Oh cool, I didn't know that, thanks :) I hope you enjoy the show.


message 25: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 123 comments I love The Lizzie Bennet Diaries! Best re-interpretation I've ever read or seen of Pride and Prejudice! And I would agree that they handle both the Charlotte and Lydia storylines extremely well. Also an example of how the age shift doesn't have to be as extreme as it is in Eligible! The book is a bit different, just a heads-up. Same storyline, different perspectives. Definitely worth the comparison!


message 26: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
I will post the final section this afternoon. I know some of us have not caught up, but you here are having some good conversation, so I don't want to halt that. Posting soon! We can all catch up on our own time and I know many of us will still be following the conversation for new comments.


message 27: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments Hannah wrote: "I love The Lizzie Bennet Diaries! Best re-interpretation I've ever read or seen of Pride and Prejudice! And I would agree that they handle both the Charlotte and Lydia storylines extremely well. Al..."

Yes, I just looked at the preview and it looks good! I might actually read that. The show was indeed excellent, and I thought it dealt with the reinterpretation in a much more plausible way on all fronts.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ SarahC wrote: "I will post the final section this afternoon. I know some of us have not caught up, but you here are having some good conversation, so I don't want to halt that. Posting soon! We can all catch up o..."

Thanks Sarah. I finished the book yesterday. I know you asked us to try to stay with the schedule but I was away for the weekend & only packed one book. :)


message 29: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Totally understandable, Carol. I am glad the reading and discussion has flowed along!


message 30: by Nathalie (last edited Jun 09, 2016 01:30AM) (new)

Nathalie | 29 comments Having finished this section only yesterday I'm a little behind with the discussion. But you've all pointed out so many interesting observations to think about.

First of all, I was pleased Charlotte and Liz got along again.

I didn't really bother Kathy de Bourgh much but you're right that her appearance in the novel seems to serve no real purpose (at least so far). Perhaps the passage with Kathy de Bourgh was written to show us that Liz is a capable and respectable journalist?

I did like the way Darcy behaved upon seeing Liz again. After all she had rejected him the last time they had seen each other. I'm actually starting to like him from this section on.

I can understand why Liz had to return home immediately after she learned the news of Lydia's elopement. No matter how you look upon it this really caused a situation of crisis within her family and since Liz is the only one with sense in the family she had to get back (even though there was nothing she could really do about the situation). I see that happening a lot in family's where the parents rely so heavily on their adult children that they often interfere with the lives of their children which is definitely not a healthy situation.

But then again I can also understand your reaction, Emily, why she had to leave "that very minute" because that will have been Darcy's reaction too. I can imagine his annoyance with the Bennets. And it was also an afterthought with Liz when she was on her flight back home by realizing that this sudden drama with her family was blowing up her chances with Darcy.

I have to agree with Hannah that Lydia running away with Jasper would have been a far more interesting situation. I like Ham, he seems like a nice person. Far better than Lydia deserves ;) There's actually nothing wrong in the union between Lydia and Ham and in the end Mr & Mrs Bennet will have gained a nice son-in-law as was not the case with Wickham in the original P&P.

Thank you for the recommendation of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I had never watched it before but I've watched the first 3 episodes now and it seems promising. Will definitely continue watching.


message 31: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 300 comments I started the Lizzie Bennett Diaries too last night, at your recommendation, and I'm loving it!


message 32: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (last edited Jun 12, 2016 08:59AM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
I am still digesting --- this book seems to need a lot of digesting from my view. Everyone is this discussion has outlined things so well -- and you are certainly seeing many sides to the story, the plot, the characters. I love these commentaries!

I have distilled to the fact that, for example, the use of the original characters doesnt bother me. For example, Kathy de Bourgh. I cannot exactly tell what the author wanted readers to take away from this character and her classic connection. Maybe it will be fulfilled by the end of the book.

But I do hope to answer this question for myself by the end of the book: Along with using all the classic characters and names, what is the story telling us? Why did the characters go through all they did? What was it for?

Emily's comments #2 and #4 above speak to several of my thoughts. I think there is an artificial modernism in this book. We are given much "free" talk - as far as vocab, anything goes. We have a lot of sex details. Do these really add to a story? In the year 2016, do we really find those enticing or instructive? Page-turning? I say not really. But in this modern story, populated with a LOT of women, do we find any characters here that can even communicate themselves out of a wet paper bag? Yes, Jane and Liz are pretty good at handling the parent/sisters crisis. But when men are involved, a brain shutdown. In 2016, when we do not have social or etiquette barriers to saying what we mean and feel, do women really want to read this type of story? Emily uses the term, superficial feminism in her post above. Good question. Liz can propose a sex encounter with a well-spoken, educated man, but she can't communicate words with him at a restaurant table or riding in a car. ?? As Karen says in comment #16, this is really just depressing.

If the Jane Austen classic audience is believed by modern publishers to be a captive audience, with dollars to spend on buying this book, what do they think we think? Or what do they think we talk about? Tea parties and good-looking men and our "chances" with them? Have we evolved to other subjects in 200 years? Yes, actually, we have. And we even talk to men about those subjects. We have some pretty vibrant, sparkling, interesting, conversations too. (Like in this group, if any evidence is needed!)


message 33: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 123 comments I completely agree with you, Sarah! I feel like this book does not appeal as much to us, the classic Austen readers, as it might to a different audience.


message 34: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments SarahC wrote: "If the Jane Austen classic audience is believed by modern publishers to be a captive audience, with dollars to spend on buying this book, what do they think we think? Or what do they think we talk about? Tea parties and good-looking men and our "chances" with them? Have we evolved to other subjects in 200 years? Yes, actually, we have. And we even talk to men about those subjects. We have some pretty vibrant, sparkling, interesting, conversations too. (Like in this group, if any evidence is needed!) ."

I love that question! Because those who love Jane Austen, men and women, the legions who adore her, do so for a thousand better reasons than just that there happens to be a romance in her stories. As I said elsewhere in the discussion of Eligible, the original Pride and Prejudice is an accomplished novel, not 'just' a romance. Besides the writing itself, which is masterful, the precise construction of the plot, and the profound psychological analysis that goes into it, it also manages to be light, romantic and funny. There's few novels out there that manage to be one of those things with equal success! So yeah, they definitely misjudged their audience if they thought they could sell us basically just another contemporary romance* with just familiarly named characters.

* I don't mean to sound scornful about romance the genre. There's nothing wrong with it. In fact, I don't think Eligible stands up amongst the best of that genre either.


message 35: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (last edited Jun 12, 2016 10:15AM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Yes, Emily. I think rereading Pride and Prejudice (and all of her books) is often a good idea -- and helps find treasure hidden within the obvious good storyline. Lot of people have a misunderstanding that Austen is "only" this or that few things. Hers are complex novels about humans and society, so well-written. We, here, wonder at how they can be so undersold!

I appreciate how carefully you commented to make yourself understood. I will do the same in regards to the Sittenfeld. Of course this author has included many current relevant topics: reality tv, single parenting, racial and ethnic bias, and much more, and a modern reader, I appreciate that, and it shows bravery of the author. However, it does seem like so many subjects have been included, but not really absorbed into the story and into the author's relationship with the reader. If a social topic is brought in -- racial or gender prejudice, we could have found out more about one of the character's true thoughts/feelings/connections with that issue. That could have been the power or delicacy of this book.

Another comparison to Pride and Prejudice (I agree with what you Emily, and other members of the group are saying). In P&P, for example, Elizabeth meets the formidable Catherine deB. This plot is not about Darcy, this is about Elizabeth knowing and showing her worth as Catherine's (society's) equal. This story ties into the romance of the story, but this part is ELIZABETH's story. How she rises to the challenge, protects her privacy against the woman, and speaks her voice (in all ways). Mr. Collins and others live to please Lady C. Elizabeth realizes a line must be drawn for her personally -- against the grain -- and she draws it. Austen's works are not simple romances! These elements are throughout all of her stories!


message 36: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (last edited Jun 12, 2016 10:22AM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Also, this made me think. The original character of Jane. Also a literary character with more than meets the eye, in my thinking. I wonder in the Sittenfeld, if Jane could not have been more brought into the story. A thinking, feeling, empathic character like Jane Bennet ...here it seems she was divided mainly into the separate storyline of her own pregnancy and the relationship with Bingley.

Instead of leaving town, why not have kept her a part of the family happenings, sharing insight and connecting/talking/communicating with what was happening with the Bennets? This would have added dimension to Jane as well as to the storyline -- more personal maybe.


message 37: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Yes, Hannah. I know I am sharing my criticism here more than I thought I would, but I always come back to the fact that this book has "Pride and Prejudice" stated on the front cover. It is difficult not to make a comparison with the original and to honestly share our expectations or some of our general reading preferences as Jane Austen readers. We did have the novel brought before us because we were Austen followers, after all. Please share any more thought on this that you have.


message 38: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments SarahC wrote: "Also, this made me think. The original character of Jane. Also a literary character with more than meets the eye, in my thinking. I wonder in the Sittenfeld, if Jane could not have been more brough..."

Absolutely!! As I commented somewhere else in this discussion: Jane Bennett has a quiet intelligence and strength and maturity of her own in the original novel, whereas in Eligible she is such a non-entity! In the original, she is the only person in Meryton who does not hate Darcy, and cautions Elizabeth to be careful about her judgements. In Eligible? What's her point, really? The only reason she is not as offensive as the other sisters is because she's not as rude as them!

But the same goes for Charles Bingley! In the original he was actually very witty, too! Like that time when Elizabeth and Darcy were bickering in Netherfield trying to come up with all the different variables that impact a persons decision-making, and Charles Bingley interrupts: "By all means! Let us hear all the particulars, not forgetting their comparative height and size!" which is actually really funny! Or that time when he arranges for Elizabeth and Darcy to have some alone time at the end of the novel:

Mrs Bennet: "I advise Mr. Darcy, and Lizzy, and Kitty to walk to Oakham Mount this morning. It is a nice long walk, and Mr. Darcy has never seen the view."
Mr Bingley: "It may do very well for the others, but I am sure it will be too much for Kitty. Won't it, Kitty?"


He is really loveable in the original! In Eligible Jane can barely feed herself on her own earnings, and Bingley is his sister's lapdog! Ugh!


message 39: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 123 comments Sarah, as you mentioned before, I think there are a lot of assumptions that each of Austen's works is one thing: romance, social commentary, feminist lit, etc. And I think that's the problem here--Eligible was marketed to us and written more with one specific aim, which I think is Liz's introduction into responsible adulthood, maybe. She accomplishes this to some extent, since Liz eventually learns from some of her past assumptions and mistakes. The problem arises from the fact that Pride and Prejudice is actually more than that. And that's what we expected, more. But really, Sittenfeld adds the other elements as passing thoughts, events, and characters that have no real bearing to the story except to help Liz meet her goal. Eligible is not a badly written book by any means. I know I'm being very critical throughout these discussions, and it's not that I hated the book, because I didn't. As you said, if it didn't claim to be a modern retelling of my favorite novel, I probably wouldn't mind any of my issues with it so much.


message 40: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 123 comments As for the points about Jane, I agree with you guys! Where was the Jane beloved by everyone, always supportive and cautious in action? In the original, not only does she play a bigger role in the family and general storyline, but she is Elizabeth's best friend and confidante!


message 41: by Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ (last edited Jun 12, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ Just feeding off earlier comments...

Not only does this compare to the best of romance, this doesn't even compare with the best of chick lit.

& Jane is a parasite (a sweet parasite, but still a parasite) She is nearly 40 & her father is still paying her rent. Then she goes to mooch off friends.I don't understand why Sittenfeld didn't have Jane living in a less expensive city than New York and/or sharing an apartment.

I edited for clarity & to make another point.


message 42: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 300 comments Some great points all, totally agree!


message 43: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 257 comments Carol ♔ Type, Oh Queen! ♔ wrote: "Just feeding off earlier comments...

Not only does this not feed off the best of romance, this doesn't even compare with the best of chick lit.

& Jane is a parasite (a sweet parasite, but still a..."


Yup! Once more I find the portrayal of her character in the Lizzy Bennet Diaries to be much better constructed. As is her split and reunion from Bingley. Here she is a total flop.


message 44: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 300 comments Yes having just seen the LBD I couldn't help compare and I agree, all of the storylines seemed better thought out.


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