I was incredibly excited when The Austen Project (a plan to re-write Jane Austen’s book in modern settings) was announced. I had high hopes that the modern retellings would have the charm and life of Jane’s original works. However, after being plagued by delays, once the books were completed and the reviews started appearing, I was sure I’d be sorely disappointed.
So, I lowered my expectations, as I waited for Pride and Prejudice. And waited. And somehow missed the release entirely (which was on my birthday!), only discovering Eligible‘s existence last December. I immediately bought and read it, and posted a review on Amazon. As I’ve delved into book blogging since then, I’ve decided to include my review here as well.
by Curtis Sittenfeld
Series: The Austen Project, Book 4
Genres: Literary Fiction, Romance
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Purchase from: Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | iBooks | Books-A-Million | Hudson Booksellers
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.
Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.
Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . .
And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.
While this wasn’t a bad book, I can definitely understand how it’s a disappointment to some. For obvious reasons, most of the conflict in Pride and Prejudice couldn’t happen in the modern world, so Curtis Sittenfeld had to devise new conflict.
I would have liked to see Lady Catherine better incorporated or removed entirely, as she’s mostly an unimportant fringe character in this.
Reading about Mrs. Bennet’s prejudices adjusted for the modern world is rather uncomfortable, but I’m willing to bet if I had been around when P&P was first released Mrs. Bennet would have been very uncomfortable then as well.
If you can divorce yourself from expectations that this is another P&P, you can enjoy the book. I did. If you can’t then this isn’t the book for you.
About the Author
Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of the novels Prep, The Man of My Dreams, American Wife, and Sisterland, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her nonfiction has been published widely, including in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Time, and Glamour, and broadcast on public radio’s This American Life. A native of Cincinnati, she currently lives with her family in St. Louis.
Disclaimer: This review is based on an eBook I purchased from Amazon on December 22, 2017.