Eligible is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride and Prejudice. It was written by Curtis Sittenfeld, and will be published on April 19th.
I received an e-ARC copy from the publisher, Random House, via NetGalley, in exchange for a honest review.
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Retelling, Chick-Lit
(Yes, I don’t really like qualifying books as “chick lit” but in this case, I think it’s really fitting)
My rating: ★★★☆☆
I don’t think I really need to explain what Pride and Prejudice is about. In this modern retelling, Jane is a yoga teacher of almost 40 years old, and Elizabeth is a 38 years old journalist. They both live in New York, but when their father ends up in the hospital they both fly back to Cincinatti where the rest of the Benett family live in their old mansion.
And guess who moves to Cincinatti? The wealth Chip Bingley, who is a new doctor at Cincinatti’s hospital, and also happens to have appeared on TV show Eligible which proves that he is indeed looking for a wife. Along with him comes handsome neurosurgeon Fitwilliam Darcy, and I let you guess the rest of it…
This book had both its good and its bad parts, to be honest. The modern setting turned out really great in my opinion, I like the idea of Bingley and Darcy being doctors, and though the reality show thing was a bit weird, it turned out interesting in the plot in the end. I also really like the idea of Liz as a journalist, and even if I was a bit taken aback by the age of the Benett sisters at first, I think it made this story unique.
However, I was not entirely convinced by this book. It got draggy at some points, and some characters were extremely annoying. Yes, I’m thinking about Jasper Wick, Sally Bennet and Caroline Bingley. And since it’s also the case in the original book, I guess it was actually well done.
What I probably loved the most is how the author managed to introduce diversity in the story, as well as making it plausible as a modern story. I won’t say more because I don’t want to be too spoilery, but I really like how both Kitty and Lydia’s storylines turned out. The book managed to stay very true to the original story while adding some new elements which fitted perfectly with the original characters (Mrs Bennett is as narrow-minded as ever, for example).
I also think the book also managed to go quite in depth in the characters, especially Elizabeth, which was a good point. And I really enjoyed the funny moments of the story.
I realise I have a lot of good things to say about this book, and yet, I have some part of me that feels uneasy about it. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but some parts disturbed me. Maybe I’m just not a huge fan of chick-lit, or sometimes the original story was twisted in a way I didn’t like. I considered at some point not finishing the book, but the funny moments made me carry on, and I’m glad I did in the end, because I really loved the ending. There were some surprises about it (which is why I’m not getting more specific) and that made up for the parts I didn’t like, in a way.
I can’t write a review of this book without commenting on the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth. I just love how it’s obvious from almost the very beginning that Darcy has unexpectedly fallen for her, and she is just blind about it for most of the book, even when they grew closer. It was lovely to see their relationship evolving, and Liz totally denying her feelings. I think it was made even more obvious than in the original story, as far as I remember.
I have so many things to say, but I don’t want to spoil you, so I will jusr stop there. Overall, this book had lots of surprises, some I loved, and some I was disappointed it. As a huge fan of Pride and Predjudice, it was a lovely read, though a few things made me a bit uneasy (at first, the age of the characters, Liz’s relationship with Jasper Wick – even if I know that was part of the modernity of the story – and once again, Mrs Bennet’s character: even if it’s on purpose, that doesn’t mean she is a likeable character for me).
If you have read this book or plan to do so, feel free to share your opinion below!
People who like Jane Austen and modern retellings, obviously, and chick-lit lovers.