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Book Review: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield

Title: Eligible, Curtis Sittenfield
Length: 512 pages
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Rating: 4/5 stars

Countless retellings of Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice have been published, made into movies or miniseries specials, but none are so fun and smart as Curtis Sittenfield’s, Eligible, which offers a modern day take on Austen’s original rom-com. Liz Bennet is a brash, quick witted woman living in New York working as a writer for popular women’s magazine, along with her sister Jane, who is a yoga instructor, both rapidly approaching forty and still single (much to their mother’s chagrin).  

When their father’s ailing health brings both eldest Bennet sisters back to their childhood home of Cincinnati, they arrive to find their home in disrepair, the family’s finances askew and the younger Bennet sisters unemployed and ignorant to their family issues. Kitty and Lydia are too preoccupied with their social lives consisting of cross fit, manicures and paleo dieting to help their parents and Mary is a professional student, completing multiple degrees, and her only social activity consisting of mysterious Tuesday night outings, where she goes she won’t say.

Chip Bingley is fresh off a season of a popular TV Reality dating series, Eligible, where he infamously refused to propose to either woman at the end of the show, and has relocated from Los Angeles to the mid-west for a position as an ER Doctor in a Cincinnati Hospital. Accompanied by his friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, a proud and aloof neurosurgeon, he encounters the Bennett family at a Fourth of July barbeque hosted by their co-worker, Dr. Lucas – I’m sure you’re seeing where this goes…

Complete with modern day character development, events and scandal, Eligible is a wonderfully adapted spinoff. Jane Austen had a way of mocking the society and times in which she lived – this is a large part of why her novels are classics that are able to be retold generations after they were first published (people don’t really evolve that much, do they?). They are witty and satirical, subtly poking fun at those around her. Sittenfield does the same, her modern day satirical genius flows throughout this hilarious rendition of a much loved classic. Eligible lends a modern relevance to an antiquated story via this witty update, which I believe Austen purists and those unfamiliar with the original can enjoy.

Eligible is available for pre-order and will be released on April 19, 2016. I couldn’t put it down, and now I’m drinking more coffee than is probably healthy – but it was worth it.


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