Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

    I have been so looking forward to reading this book as it is billed as a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice so when I saw it on the new books shelf of my local library, I had to get it. It didn't turn out to be quite what I was expecting. If I had to label it into a genre, I would say it fits neatly into Chick lit. It has been commissioned by the Austen Project which has paired up contemporary writers with an Austen classic. This one did not hit the spot for me.

   I'll get my gripes over quickly and then move on to some positives. I looked in vain for the ironic tone which underpins Jane Austen's novel. For me, Liz's (Elizabeth) relationships were all wrong, especially with her father. His flashes of self-knowledge expressed at his own expense and the deep affection and exasperation he has with his family were not evident. The marriage of the Bennet's parents and the other models of marriage shown throughout in the other couples were not really explored. 

    I was also perplexed as to why some of the real comic creations of the original were given the treatment they were. My favourite character is probably Mr Collins but in this version, there was no humour and he had been transposed into a nerdish workaholic. Lady Catherine de Bourgh was a celebrated and independent public speaker who Liz interviewed quite amicably. The links between the characters were missing as they had no connection with each other or Darcy and I felt that the plot did not contain the same jeopardy for Lydia that an elopement with Wickham had. The whole device of the reality show, 'Eligible' jarred as I was never convinced that any of the characters would be persuaded to appear.

    To be more positive, the ageing of the sisters to their thirties and nearly forty meant that they were at the time of their lives when decisions had to be made as to long term relationships. These sisters lived in a world where fame, especially through celebrity, was the social currency of the day. It gave some status in the way that marriage did centuries ago. Some people's first impressions turned out to be misleading which echoed Pride and Prejudice. Darcy's declaration to Liz was a reflection of the original and the strongest part of the book. However, I still felt that much of their relationship did not ring true. Also, the foundation of Darcy's life and how he shows his human side is through his role at Pemberley which in this book, he seemed to care little about.

    I'll stop here as I do prefer to celebrate reading and writing. Maybe this version just wasn't for me.
 

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