Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: Random House
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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. Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, ELIGIBLE both honors and updates Austen’s beloved tale. Tackling gender, class, courtship, and family, Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today."
Most people know the plot of Pride and Prejudice, but Curtis Sittenfeld takes the Bennet family to a whole new level by placing them in our modern world. First, there's Liz who is in her upper thirties and works in New York for a magazine. She lives with Jane, her eldest sister, who is a yoga instructor and is a calm presence. They are from a well-to-do area in Cincinnati and return home when their father has a health scare. They are thrusted back into family life, especially when dealing with their younger sisters who are pretty much free-loading off of their parents despite the fact that they are old enough to live on their own. Of course, their mother is constantly trying to marry off Jane or Liz, especially since they are approaching forty. The horror! Their father is recovering from his surgery and is his usual snarky self. However, when Jane and Liz return home, they find their beautiful family home is in a state of disrepair and there's some financial issues brewing as well. But that doesn't stop Mrs. Bennet from trying to pair off the most eligible bachelor in town with Jane at a neighborhood barbecue. And that's where Liz meets Darcy...Dr. Darcy that is. Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible is a fun and fluffy modern take on Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It's vacation reading at its best.
At first I wasn't in love with the characters in Eligible. I had a hard time letting go of my version of Elizabeth Bennet verses Sittenfeld's modern take on her. Once I let go of my expectations, I really started to enjoy this modern Liz who enjoys sex, is independent, smart, and outgoing. So once I warmed up to modern day Liz, I was able to enjoy the story a bit more. Her initial interactions with Darcy are exactly how I would picture a modern day meeting between these two. Darcy is a neurosurgeon (I wouldn't expect anything less) and is pompous at first. Obviously I knew where the story was going, but that didn't deter my enjoyment of watching their love story unravel. Sittenfeld throws in some interesting "modern" twists and turns for good measure, which definitely kept me interested.
I thought the Bennet family was well done, especially Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet. They were exactly how I would picture them living presently. Mr. Bennet had his usual snarky one-liners and Mrs. Bennet was overly dramatic and self-absorbed. I also liked Sittenfeld's take on the younger sisters and the fact that they still lived at home, mooched off their parents, and participated in CrossFit all day. I could totally see that.
The relationship between Jane and Chip Bingley, the new bachelor in town, was also well done in Eligible. He was on a reality show called Eligible, but didn't find love. Mrs. Bennet is sure he will find it with her Jane, but Jane has some circumstances that come into play that may or may not be a deal breaker for Chip.
Overall, I thought this was an enjoyable story, especially if you let go of your expectations and just have fun imagining a modern day Bennet family. The chapters are short and despite the novel's length, the story goes by quickly. Eligible would be the perfect addition to your beach bag this summer.