My review of the “Pride and Prejudice” update, “Eligible”, by Curtis Sittenfeld – no spoilers

My review of the “Pride and Prejudice” update, “Eligible”, by Curtis Sittenfeld – no spoilers

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is the most recent of a number of commissions to write updates of Jane Austen – here’s a link to the facebook page which tells you more. I’ve only read Emma so far, and was somewhat disappointed. Eligible is a different matter altogether.

I had to read Eligible twice, once just to gobble it up as quickly as possible, and a second time to savour it.

Here’s why I’m impressed:

  1. Most importantly, Sittenfeld nails Lizzy’s emotional journey. The romance is great, Darcy is incredibly sexy, and Liz’s uncertainties, doubts, longings, changes and learning are all perfectly mapped and psychologically believable.
  2. The need for the Bennet girls in the original to be married is very real – they must marry for economic reasons as well as to maintain status. Being an old maid in 1813 was no joke – likewise Lydia’s disgrace was powerfully shaming back then. The difficulty is to recreate the same degree of jeopardy for the characters in our permissive world: I was amazed and delighted with Sittenfeld’s solutions to these problems. Not gonna tell you though
  3. The updating is very very clever. As a fully signed-up Pride and Prejudice nerd, there was enormous pleasure to be got from seeing how the author did it. I was wondering how she would recreate e.g. Lizzy’s walk to Netherfield in all that dirt, Darcy’s wealth and status, Kitty and Lydia’s vulgarity – and Mrs Bennet’s. Sittenfeld manages it so smoothly that you almost forget which bit of the original she’s referring to. Very very clever.
  4. The writing is plain and clear – it never gets in the way, is never bumpy, awkward or self-conscious.
  5. The book is fun – knowing, sophisticated, romantic, funny and contemporary.
  6. Hate the cover.

Recommended.

 

 

 

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