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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Eligible: A Novel

            Billed as “a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice”, this contemporary version of Austen’s classic novel is written by Curtis Sittenfeld. As the original book is considered a satirical study of that era’s social customs, so is Eligible one of our time.
            Here we meet a 38-year-old Liz Bennett, an unmarried career woman living in New York City, where her sister Jane also lives.  They left their parents and three younger sisters back in their hometown of Cincinnati, but return to help out when their father undergoes heart bypass surgery. They find that the family’s lives are chaotic: the three younger sisters don’t work, Mrs. Bennett has an online shopping addiction, the family house is falling apart, and Mr. Bennett doesn’t have health insurance for himself and the family. The two eldest daughters try to help out as best they can. On the social front, Jane meets Chip Bingley, a physician at the local hospital and former contestant on the reality show Eligible, a take-off of the show Bachelor. Liz, in turn, meets neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy and takes an instant dislike to him. Eventually they become running partners and engage in “hate sex”.

            Many of the original characters are here with some updating and/or alteration. We become caught up with modern-day issues such as single parenting, eating disorders, transgender relationships, racism, and more. Although Eligible doesn’t completely follow the plot and the storyline isn’t as tender as that in Pride and Prejudice, its satirical bent makes it a hysterical read.  

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