As an all-around Jane Austen fan, I have read Pride & Prejudice more times than I can count. So as much as I would happily read it again, I thought this would be a good opportunity to expand my horizons, though admittedly not very far, and read Eligible.
If you’re not familiar with the Austen Project, it is a Jane Austen update – pairing six bestselling contemporary authors with one of Austen’s complete works to retell/rewrite/reboot it for the modern age. Curtis Sittenfeld, who also happens to be one of my favorite authors (Prep and American Wife are particular favorites though you really can’t go wrong!), was tasked with retooling Pride & Prejudice.
I DEVOURED this book (confession: I read the book in less than three days at the end of January and wrote this immediately afterward, so hello from the past!). It was, in my opinion, the perfect reimagining of Pride & Prejudice. It stayed true to the plot and the characters, but with appropriate updates for 2017. She perfectly married the language of P&P with contemporary language, creating a sort of high brow “chick lit” (though I hate that term, I really don’t know that there’s another one that fits – if there is and I am not aware of it, please enlighten me).
Is it a bit silly? Yes, absolutely, but only in the most lovely and appropriate way. I also thought Sittenfeld did a great job of introducing relevant topics of today into the story in a logical way. I don’t want to give away any big secrets, but I think she successfully updated the Lydia/Kitty story lines and I thought her take on Mary (particularly the final chapter) was just perfect: Mrs. Bennet was as frustrating as ever; Mr. Bennet as droll; Caroline Bingley Part II just as awful as the original; Jane just as sweet.
Despite the fact that I know the plot of P&P quite well, and Sittenfeld did not deviate much from the major plot points, I could not put this book down! I wanted to know (though I already did know) how Elizabeth and Darcy’s story would unfold, how Jane and Chip would find their way back to each other, etc.
In short: If you loved Pride & Prejudice, you’ll love Eligible (plus, who can resist a book with a plot point that includes a fictionalized version of The Bachelor?!?).