Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Published by Random House on April 19, 2016
Genre(s): fiction, chick-lit, contemporary, romance
Format & Length: hardcover, 492
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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.
I am sorry to say that through all my years of reading and loving books in general, I have never read Pride and Prejudice. So, despite knowing that Eligible is a contemporary retelling of the story, I really didn’t know what to expect.
And I wound up thoroughly enjoying it! Mr. Bennet’s dry humor had me giggling from page one, and I was entertained straight through to the end. This book almost reads like a movie or tv show that has a narrator voice over as the action is beginning on the screen, and the narrator’s voice engaged me. The plot also reminded me of reality television – contrived enough to get the story started but otherwise realistic.
“Plenty of men don’t want children.” Mr. Bennet took a sip of his coffee. “I’m still not sure that I do.”
The characters were interesting and developed caricatures. The satire is apparent and yet they feel like people you know in real life and don’t fall flat. Same goes for their relationships, which were funny, entertaining, and complex. As a whole, it read like a commentary on the culture we currently live in, which I gather was 100% intentional.
Ultimately, I found Eligible to be a fun, witty, and engaging read. I can’t yet actually compare it to Pride and Prejudice, but I do now officially need to read it!