Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have a love/hate relationship with Curtis Sittenfeld. I think she's a good writer if a bit pretentious. I read Prep when I was in college and was confused by its plotless story. I followed it up with The Man of My Dreams and was once again confused about when it would get to an actual story. By the time I got to American Wife I honestly had to ask myself if I'd ever read anything of Sittenfeld's again.
That being said, I read this because I love Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is probably one of the most amazing novels ever written. Elizabeth Bennet is complex, likable, and completely learns from her experiences.
I didn't feel that Liz Bennet learned anything in this modern remake. She was as judgemental as the characters she complained were judgmental. She goes through this entire novel acting like she's better than everyone because she's spent the last twenty years in New York, and not in Cincinnati, which is apparently Hickville, USA.
This is what almost every modern retelling of P&P gets wrong: Lizzie Bennet, while she definitely has her foibles, she's overall a kind person. Liz in Eligible just felt petty. She treats her parents like petulant children (though they were in denial, but she could've been more tactful, especially following her father's health scare), her sisters like children (though they were never forced to grow up, so that's to be expected, I guess), and the idea that she and Darcy decided to have hate sex just kind of grated on my nerves. She makes snap judgments on people, which are always spot-on. She's right about everything, which is annoying. I also felt like she was trying too hard to prove she was with the times, unlike her backward, conservative parents (Sittenfeld is seriously a one-sided writer).
I was glad that this book had a plot to follow. There were numerous goals with good challenges to block the goals, but I think the appeal of this book for me was the fact that it was based around P&P. I also thought the last bit with Mary's POV was unnecessary. It was just a POV to show how superior she was to her family. I already didn't like Mary, but that was overkill.
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