My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was so excited when I learned that I’d won an advanced copy of Eligible through Goodreads.com. With this book, Curtis Sittenfeld was tasked with the unenviable challenge of writing a modernized version of Pride and Prejudice. Others have attempted it with varying degrees of success. Sittenfeld is one of the most successful I’ve read. Still, I had found that I had to remind myself that while it is a modernization of Pride and Prejudice, it is not the beloved classic. If I didn’t remind myself of that I would have gotten upset about certain things and would have been unable to enjoy the trials of the Bennett family. Like the original though, Eligible captures what life is like for modern women in the 21st century. They deal with work, parents getting older, lovers, friends, and modern technology. With fewer social constraints that in Austen’s day, it must have been difficult coming up with behaviors and relationships that our modern world would see as improper or even scandalous. But only at one point did it really seemed forced.
I kept wondering as I was reading what scandal Lydia would cause that would send Liz running back home and possibly doom all hope for her relationship with Darcy. I understand why she felt that she needed to be with her mother (even though Mrs. Bennett isn’t very deserving of it!) but why Liz couldn’t get to the airport after her breakfast with Darcy. I mean, they were already at the restaurant. If I were him, I’d have been angry too. The only other part I’m not sure I like is the very last chapter that talks about Mary but it continues the exploration of all of the options women have in our society.
Overall Eligible is an enjoyable, wickedly funny, and observant read. There were several passages about adulthood, being a single woman in her thirties, and caring for her family that really spoke to me. It is also a very quick read with some of the shortest chapters I have ever seen.