Book Review: When Two Great Female Writers Collide

*originally 04/20/2016

b99701545z.1_20160415094408_000_goif96j6.1-0ELIGIBLE: A MODERN RETELLING OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE Written by Curtis Sittenfeld

2016; 492 Pages (Random House)
Genre: classic retelling, contemporary, romance, humor

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY)

Rating: ★

I love the humour and writing of Jane Austen.  I love the humour and writing of Curtis Sittenfeld.  What did not work for me was Sittenfeld writing an Austen retelling.  I like Pride and Prejudice but it is in no way my favourite novel of Jane Austen.  I have not read too many of the “sequels” or retelling novels.  One of my favourite contemporary romantic comedy is Bridget Jones’s Diary.  It is very different than P&P but it has Austen’s humour and it is far removed enough that even if you don’t like Austen (and there are such people, bless them) you might still like Bridget.  While I do not love all the P&P characters they are endearing in a quirky way.  The characters and plot in Eligible are like an episode of what I imagine the Kardashians are about.  I really don’t like Mary and Mr. Bennet and I adored them in the original.  I read this extremely long winded book out of respect for Sittenfeld – I have read all but one of her novels and loved them (highly recommend American Wife).  Sittenfeld has her own mixture of writing and I love and anticipate it, so maybe I am taking this book too hard.   Maybe she’s doing something super clever and I don’t get it…right?

Hmmm…anyway, this is a standalone novel, but it is the fourth book in the Jane Austen Project.  A contemporary writer is taking on one of Jane Austen’s novels.  Val McDermid did one for Northanger Abbey and now I am scared.  A friend, who loves McDermid, tried it and couldn’t get into it so now I don’t know what to do.  I honestly don’t know whether to recommend this book to anyone nor do I feel comfortable dissuading people.  A great author who I will always read wrote a modern retelling of a book I think is so-so by an author I adore  – I did not like it and skimmed some paragraphs but did finish it.  I am ending my review here.


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