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.
I love Pride & Prejudice retellings. Mainly because I love Pride & Prejudice (even though the only way I was able to finally read it was by listening to the audiobook). I was so happy to choose Eligible as the book for my book club because I’ve been meaning to read it since it came out and this finally gave me an excuse to finally read it and I’m so glad I did. I absolutely loved it.
At first I was worried I wouldn’t be able to relate to it because Liz is 38 and Jane is almost 40, much older than the original characters, but their age didn’t matter because they were super relatable. I loved their sister bond just as I do in every version of this story but I also loved the other characters. Curtis Sittenfeld did an amazing job of still making these characters feel like the originals but not so much that I just felt like I was reading P&P in the present day.
There were still changes to the story and even a character name change that surprised me a little. I also actually liked how Lydia’s story played out in this version. I never like Lydia, in the original and in most retellings I’ve read/seen, but I will say that this is my favorite version of Lydia thus far. I also really liked what Sittenfeld did with Mary’s character, who definitely gets the short stick in the original novel and also in most retellings.
My biggest issue with this novel was Darcy’s little sister Georgie. I love Georgie and I wanted more for her in this book. I found the way Sittenfeld handled her story line a bit strange and unnecessary and also unresolved. I wish we saw more of her in the novel.
Other than that though I thought Sittenfeld handled this retelling very well. Even the voice of the third person narration reminded me of the original P&P. I heard it in a British accent even though most of this novel takes place in Cincinnati. It just seemed so proper, especially with the use of so many words I needed to look up to understand.
The plot was great, the characters were distinctive, and while you still get the story you expect from P&P, the changes also made this book feel like it’s own story, not just a retelling, which I loved. Definitely give this one a read, especially if you’re a fan of P&P.
“There’s a belief that to take care of someone else, or let someone else take care of you—that both are inherently unfeminist. I don’t agree. There’s no shame in devoting yourself to another person, as long as he devotes himself to you in return.”