by Curtis Sittenfeld
Random House Canada | April 19th, 2016 | 4 out of 5 Stars
I can never say no to a good Pride & Prejudice retelling. In fact, I have a shelf dedicated specifically to P & P published fan fiction. I must admit that it has been a while since I’ve read one told in a contemporary era. The last one was so bad I never wanted to read another retelling after that. Eligible, thankfully, was a fantastic modern retelling of a well-loved book. Sittenfeld truly grabbed it by the horns and directed the story as she saw fit. But she stayed true to what we’ve come to love about the book.
Majority of us probably have read the book or seen the BBC series – or the films for that matter. In here, we find slight variations to each of the characters’ roles. Like Wickham for one. Oh, trust me, he was still a douchebag. But the difference here is, he’s been Liz’s friend for years. His connection with Darcy would’ve been inconsequential had Darcy not played a role in the reason for Wick’s hatred.
Liz is a writer for women’s magazine in a different calibre as say, Cosmopolitan. They tackled issues with social relevance affecting women. Which is why I had a tough time stomaching the way she let Wick treated her. She was a strong, independent woman who – unfortunately – fell victim to what she thought was love. Her strained interactions with Darcy were comical at best. Expect the usual, “I want to marry you despite your family being poor and screwed up” hi-jinx.
Speaking of Liz’s family, well, Lydia created a different problem for the Bennett matriarch. One involving an elopement with a transgender – which, in this day and age shouldn’t really matter. But because Mrs Bennett is the worst kind of bigot in this interpretation, dramatics ensued. Mary is as studious as ever with opinions of her own. Suspected of being a lesbian didn’t sit well with Mrs Bennett. She seems to disappear time and time again and they didn’t know where she was going. That is until Kitty tracked her down and exposed her secrets.
Then we come to Jane and Bingley – which really is where I should’ve started with this review because the title of the book references a reality tv show (ala, The Bachelor) where Bingley was first discovered. He’s a doctor looking for forever. Unfortunately, he couldn’t pick one woman so at the kiss-awarding ceremony, he broke down and cried. Cried like a baby because he didn’t want either of the women left. So yeah. He’s rich, he’s a doctor. Looking for love and found one in Ohio, no less. Until his meddling sister, Caroline Bingley interfered.
I’m sorry that this review is going a bit longer than I’d like. But I have so much to say about this book. Overall, it’s a great retelling. It was funny. It was important. It subtly discussed some of the social issues relevant to the on-going problems facing the U.S. right now. I also love how intensely conservative ma and pa Bennett were while the kids are considerably liberal-minded. It’s a delight to see Ms. Sittenfeld update a most beloved classic – to see how the Bennetts would fare in today’s society even if it’s just a supposition.