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Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (Austen Project Book 4) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 503 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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- Book 4 of 4 in The Austen Project Series
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“Blissful . . . [Curtis] Sittenfeld modernizes the classic in such a stylish, witty way you’d guess even Jane Austen would be pleased.”—People (book of the week)
“[A] sparkling, fresh contemporary retelling.”—Entertainment Weekly
“[Sittenfeld] is the ideal modern-day reinterpreter. Her special skill lies not just in her clear, clean writing, but in her general amusement about the world, her arch, pithy, dropped-mike observations about behavior, character and motivation. She can spot hypocrisy, cant, self-contradiction and absurdity ten miles away. She’s the one you want to leave the party with, so she can explain what really happened. . . . Not since Clueless, which transported Emma to Beverly Hills, has Austen been so delightedly interpreted. . . . Sittenfeld writes so well—her sentences are so good and her story so satisfying. . . . As a reader, let me just say: Three cheers for Curtis Sittenfeld and her astute, sharp and ebullient anthropological interest in the human condition.”—Sarah Lyall, The New York Times Book Review
“Bold and brilliant.”—Glamour
“A clever, uproarious evolution of Austen’s story.”—The Denver Post
“If there exists a more perfect pairing than Curtis Sittenfeld and Jane Austen, we dare you to find it. . . . Sittenfeld makes an already irresistible story even more beguiling and charming.”—Elle
“A playful, wickedly smart retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.”—BuzzFeed
“Sittenfeld is an obvious choice to re-create Jane Austen’s comedy of manners. [She] is a master at dissecting social norms to reveal the truths of human nature underneath.”—The Millions
“A hugely entertaining and surprisingly unpredictable book, bursting with wit and charm.”—The Irish Times
“A delightful romp for not only Austen devotees but also lovers of romantic comedies and sly satire, as well . . . Bestselling Sittenfeld plus Jane Austen? What more could mainstream fiction readers ask for?”—Booklist (starred review)
“Endlessly amusing . . . Her take on Austen’s iconic characters is skillful, her pacing excellent, and her dialog highly entertaining. . . . Austen fans will adore this new offering, a wonderful addition to the genre.”—Library Journal
“An unputdownable retelling of the beloved classic.”—PopSugar
“Sittenfeld adeptly updates and channels Austen’s narrative voice—the book is full of smart observations on gender and money. . . . A clever retelling of an old-fashioned favorite.”—Publishers Weekly
“The modernization of this classic story allows for a greater and more humorous range of incompetency and quirks; for example, Mrs. Bennet now has Valium and online shopping to distract her from constant anxiety. These familiar characters must deal with issues far beyond class and the all-important institution of marriage; everything from sexuality to racism to eating disorders and single parenthood factor in. And it’s all written in a giddily charming blend of nineteenth-century novel–meets–twenty-first-century casual swearing. . . . Delight in this tale for its hilarious and endearing family drama.”—Kirkus Reviews
From School Library Journal
- Publication date : April 19, 2016
- File size : 11191 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 503 pages
- Publisher : Random House; Reprint edition (April 19, 2016)
- ASIN : B010ZXKCJU
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #42,384 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I really, really wanted to like this book – I love Jane Austen, and the pre released teaser sample sounded excellent – but no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t sit well with me. In the interests of fairness, given how well known and beloved Pride and Prejudice has become, it was always going to be one of the trickier ones to adapt. Let me talk about what I liked first.
What I liked
The modernisation. Many things in the update worked surprisingly well. The transfer of the action from Hertfordshire to Cincinnati was seamless and gave a very similar flavour of the small town mentality that caused Darcy’s snobbish attitude. The Bennet family’s future being at risk because of the lack of a male heir is not something that would fit well with a modern tale, so Sittenfeld uses a more up to date threat which works in well. Surprisingly the whole reality TV show plotline adapts well and served to enhance both the story and the characters.
The narration. I listened to Eligible in audiobook format. Narration duties were undertaken by Cassandra Campbell who did a great job of narrating the tales of the Bennet sisters. I chose the book in audiobook format because of the sneak peek narration.
What I didn’t like
The chapter break up. The audiobook is 13 hours and 21 minutes long, so approximately 800 minutes. This is relatively short in terms of audiobooks. I believe the hard copy comes in at around 500 pages. There are over 180 chapters in the book. Let me say that again. One hundred and eighty chapters. This means that, on average, there is a new chapter roughly every four minutes. Some chapters last less than 40 seconds. Especially in the audiobook I found it extremely distracting and detrimental to my engagement in the story to have it broken up so frequently.
Character development. My biggest issue with Eligible was that I didn’t feel Sittenfeld accurately portrayed – or even at times understood – Austen’s wonderful characters and/or their journeys. It is fair to say that, perhaps her interpretation of Elizabeth, Jane and Lydia just isn’t the same as mine; however I would argue that they also differ from Austen’s.
To take Lydia first; while both Austen’s and Sittenfeld’s youngest Bennet sister is young, immature and, yes, does occasionally push the boundaries of propriety I have never perceived her as being downright crude and vulgar as she comes across in Eligible. Admittedly, I will never be able to read P&P with an Austen era mentality, so I could be wrong here. Secondly, Lydia’s story arc in Austen’s original has her family (and ultimately Darcy) having to step in to protect her from the consequences of an imprudent and ill considered decision. While it is not an easy task to come up with a modern storyline that has the same shock value and social repercussions that nineteeth century Lydia’s running off alone with a man would have, and I can see what Sittenfeld was trying to do, I personally disagree with her choice. At that point in the story I found myself thinking “What imprudent decision? What consequences?” Sittenfeld even has her Lydia try to sit down with her parents and discuss her decision before taking action and the impression I was left with was that it was a far more balanced and thought out decision than Austen’s Lydia would have made.
Jane’s character arc, too, wasn’t always given the service it should have. In my mind, in the original, Jane’s character flaw was that she wasn’t confident enough to express her feelings adequately to Bingley. This allowed Darcy to interfere in the relationship believing that she was not very strongly attached to Bingley. This is a flaw which she must overcome to achieve her happy ending. In Sittenfeld’s reworking, it’s Jane’s circumstances which force her to be more reserved about expressing her feelings, therefore no flaw, no character development.
Finally, we come to Elizabeth, the second oldest Bennet sister. My impression of Elizabeth from Austen’s original was that she is an intelligent, strong willed woman, who has a strong sense of self worth and who is not prepared to compromise that. Sittenfeld’s description of her Liz’s relationship with Jasper does not show a woman with a strong sense of self worth. Perhaps that’s Eligible Liz’s character arc, to regain that sense of self, but it’s not the arc of Austen’s character, and as such I didn’t feel it should have been part of the story, especially as Austen’s Elizabeth already has a strong character development arc in overcoming her prejudice of Darcy.
While there were some excellently written parts of Eligible, for me, it is the weakest of the Austen project books in terms of bringing Austen’s characters to life in a modern setting. I gave Eligible only 1.5 stars out of five.
If you want to see a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice done well, I recommend you rather take a look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube.
The Darcy character was the only one who went relatively unscathed by the tawdry reconstitution of a classic, but even this character was a cardboard cutout of Austen's Darcy. The Liz character was well-defined, but with no trace of the original Lizzie Bennet.
This book is not even OK for a modern romance genre novel, and I wouldn't have read it had it not been presented as a modern twist on P&P. It's just a story about mostly clueless morons in their own twisted world.
Good thing she meets and is instantly besotted with Dr. Chip Bingley, ER doctor and former star of the reality show "Eligible" at the outset of the story. I thought that using "Eligible" as a framing device in the book was very clever, and the little jabs at the silliness of shows like "The Bachelor/ette" really amused me. The course of true love does not run smooth for Jane and Chip, but it's filled with even more hurdles for Liz and Darcy, Bingley's haughty neurosurgeon friend, as Liz takes an instant dislike to him and is quite adamant about not changing her opinion. (Also, she's not really looking for love since she's hung up on her friend/lover, Jasper Wick, who's even sleazier and more loathsome in this incarnation than ever before.)
In addition to the romantic drama in the book, there are some serious familial issues with Mr. Bennet's health woes and Mrs. Bennet's shopping addiction putting a strain on their finances. They're both very hard-headed about accepting responsibility and changing their profligate ways, and the younger girls seem content to live at home and mooch off their parents forever. So, it's up to practical Liz to find a way to save them all.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Although I was intimidated by its size at first (Over 500 pages!), I managed to blow through Eligible in just three days, which shows what a page-turner it is. The story was familiar, but it had quite a few twists and surprises along the way. So, kudos to the author for keeping me on my toes and for reinterpreting certain iconic moments like Liz rushing to her sick sister's side and Darcy's profession of love in new and interesting ways.
The modernization of the characters was mostly well-done (Kitty and Lydia's shallowness and superficiality now manifesting through their obsessions with the latest fitness/diet crazes. Will Collins thinking any woman would be lucky to have him because he's rich due to his dot-com business.) I particularly liked how Darcy was portrayed in Eligible. It made total sense that Darcy, who's always had a bit of a God complex, would gravitate toward medicine where his brilliance would be constantly praised. This Darcy had a lot of layers, though, and came across as being quite sensitive and caring, which made me get a little irritated with how callously Liz often treated him.
I did not care for how short the chapters in Eligible were (sometimes just a few pages, sometimes just a few paragraphs). Too many chapters seemed to end abruptly in the middle of a scene, then the next chapter opened with a totally different character/scene, which disturbed the flow of the story. Also, I wish that the raunch factor hadn't been so high in the book. I certainly don't mind cursing or sex in a book, but the graphicness of it in Eligible just didn't seem to jibe with the genre (Women's Fiction) or the intelligence of the writing.
If you're a Janeite as I am, I would definitely recommend Eligible. It was a fun, fast read, perfect for a lazy summer day.
Top reviews from other countries
Pacy and quite a bit more racy than the original, this is a very easy light read with many funny moments. Each characters transformation into the modern American world has been carefully and cleverly done. Don't expect classic writing or restraint. It is what it is.
"Why" is a question that came to mind several times while reading this for a book group. Easy money?
I found the parental-house-finances issue a bit dull to read, although there was enough sparkle otherwise to make the overall effort worthwhile and enjoyable. I'm happy to have bought it, I enjoyed reading it but I doubt I'd read it again.
Jane is a yoga teacher and wants a baby so much, she is having AI sessions. Liz is a serious (in her mind) journalist- she works for a magazine with the unserious name of ‘Mascara’ . The younger sisters are still at home and unmarried. Mr Bennett has none of the charm of the original and Mrs B is as shallow and one track minded as the original. The younger girls have appalling manners. Mr Bingley and Darcy are doctors.
Lydia’s lover is a trans gender gym owner but is probably the only kind and helpful person around.
This book did not work for me due to its sheer implausibility but I will always remember it for the spider infestation. I had no idea you could get spider infestations that are so bad the house haS to be wrapped in canvas and fumigated.