Book 25: Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice
This book was a clever choice by Sharl, a fellow book club member. Two of us in the club are big fans of Jane Austin, as I’m sure I mentioned in my Pride and Prejudice post, and once upon a time we decided to pick a Jane Austin novel to read as a group. We settled on Persuasion, primarily because it was the only one that neither of us had read yet, and let’s just say it is not the book that is going to make Jane Austin fans out of people who dislike period pieces. But despite likely ruining her forever on Jane Austin, Sharl agreed to read the great Pride and Prejudice prior to seeing the theatre production. While it is possible she didn’t hate the book, I feel pretty certain that it’s not in her top 10 list (or top 100).
With that in mind, this modern retelling of P and P was Sharl’s latest pick. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this modernization was extremely enjoyable, well thought-out and even quite funny. Sittenfeld has brought the story into the very modern world of millennials, although the main characters are actually in their mid- to late-40s. In fact, this was the biggest disconnect for me, that the ages of the eldest Bennett daughters don’t align with their behaviour. Otherwise, Sittenfeld has done a very clever job of crafting a story that takes all of the Victorian drama (girls running off with boys to whom they are not married, daughters with no prospects because of the inheritance laws of the time) and transposes it into relevant and believable modern-day drama. And all the while she manages to maintain the magic of the romance that blooms between Elizabeth and Darcy.
I thought things got a little out of hand at the end, with a reality show play that didn’t really resonate for me, but then again I am not much of a watcher of reality TV.
Rating: Borrow it, even if Pride and Prejudice is precious to you.