Wednesday, 27 April 2016

"Eligible" by Curtis Sittenfeld | Book Review

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Publishing Date: April 19, 2016
Pages: 656
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book DepositoryAmazon | Kobo

Even if you've never read Pride and Prejudice (like me, I say ashamedly), you probably know the story: girl's family is pressuring her to marry, girl meets guy, girl thinks guy is a snob, girl and guy fall in love. This is of course an oversimplified summary of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy's beautifully complicated relationship, which is retold in Eligible.

This is the story of Liz Bennet set in our modern era. Liz lives in New York City and writes feminist articles for a women's magazine, but heads home to Cincinnati after her dad has a heart attack. She quickly learns that her family needs her more than even she could have guessed. And along the way, she meets a tall, dark stranger...whom she finds repulsive.

Almost everything in this story has been adapted to modern times. Curtis Sittenfeld addresses a lot of the issues we deal with in modern-day life, including racism, trans- and homophobia, fat shaming, classism, and pressure to marry. Since the Bennets (particularly Mrs. Bennet) consider themselves part of the upper class, we see a lot of the wealthy and their prejudice toward minorities. Some of the aforementioned issues are much more prevalent in today's society, while others have been around for centuries and show just how little we've changed in some ways.

With regards to marriage, many of us are still under a lot of pressure from our parents to get married, although not quite as early on in our lives. Rather than the young age of 20 that she was in the original story, Liz is 38 in this retelling, while her older sister Jane is nearly 40. There's still a lot of pressure to marry, it's just that in modern times, you have longer before your parents start losing hope.

This story is very much written in the style of the original in terms of having old-timey words and cadence, yet it still feels like a modern style because of the story. It's a really cool juxtaposition!

I love the ways in which the author changed the sisters' relationships. The way Liz and Darcy's relationship gets started, for example, is perfectly adapted to how we do things now. I can absolutely see that whole scenario playing out in real life. And Jane and Chip Bingley's storyline - another fantastically strange relationship I can picture.

I'd go so far as to say that most of the Bennets are unlikable in this story because of their, well, pride and prejudice, and yet I'm compelled by their stories. Eligible is definitely a book I'm going to pass along to friends and family who love Pride and Prejudice.

If you're in the mood for a fun, long read, then cozy up with your favourite drink and enjoy this modern retelling of a wonderful classic.

*This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

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