Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld

The Austen Project, book 4
Category: humor and satire, love stories, women's fiction
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: April 19, 2016
My Rating: 1 Star

Description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible tackles gender, class, courtship, and family as Curtis Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today.

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.

Review

I was so excited at the description of Eligible.  Jane Austen is one of my all-time favorite authors so when I saw a book that was a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice I had to snatch up a review copy.  Unfortunately Eligible fell short of my expectations.

Jane Austen was a revolutionary author. Her mode of writing, satire, served her a dual purpose. Satire was in vogue at the time she began writing, but it also gave her a chance to criticize her society covertly. In her major novels, Jane Austen reveals to us the foolishness of the prejudices about women that were prevalent in her society and attacks society’s prejudices and faults through irony and satire. Austen shows us how blind society was to its own faults, including its attitudes toward women, in particular. Austen’s novels are packed with social commentary.
— http://esirc.emporia.edu/handle/123456789/1650

In contrast to Austen’s criticism of society, Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible seems to revel in it.  Eligible portrays in full detail the "modern" attitude towards sex, marriage, etc.  To her credit, Sittenfeld does point out the excesses of the wealthy but she doesn't have the gravitas of Austen.  I must say that I only made it through chapter twenty-three, 17% of the book.  As such, it is possible that Sittenfeld more critically addresses these issues within the remainder of the book.  I gave up reading because I couldn't handle any more adulatory, sex on the first date, and what felt like an overwhelming slate of unbiblical actions. 

Austen is unique.  Her quick wit, sharp insight, and deep emotional intelligence brought life to her novels.  A hard act to follow.

As a reviewer for NetGalley, I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. My thanks to NetGalley, the author, and publisher.

Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of the novels Prep, The Man of My Dreams, American Wife, and Sisterland, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her nonfiction has been published widely, including in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Time, Vanity Fair, and Glamour and broadcast on public radio's This American Life. A native of Cincinnati, she currently lives with her family in St. Louis.