Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Pride and Prejudice, Redux

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House hardcover, 19 April 2016).

I really loved Eligible the first time I read it, and I recommended it for April's Library Reads list.  That was back in January, and though I meant to write a proper review for it right away, I didn't manage it.

Now that the book is to be released in less than three weeks, I decided to reread it before trying to review it.  It took me two afternoons to finish it, and I enjoyed it as much the second time.

But there were a couple of things that bothered me. 

Mr. Bingley's first name is Chip.  "Chip" belongs to a small-town high school football star whose father also played football there, and never moved away.  "Chip" is not the scion of "the Pennsylvania Bingleys, who in the twentieth century had made their fortune in plumbing fixtures".*  

"Kathy" de Bourgh has no connection to the Darcy family, and thus the delightful exchanges between her and Lizzie that occur in Pride and Prejudice are an impossibility here.

That being said, I thought putting Liz and Jane in their late 30s made sense given the 21st Century setting, and the description of the party where the Bennet family meet Darcy and Bingley is splendid.  Lydia and Kitty's penchant for using expletives, and the characterization of Mary as an asexual perpetual student are wonderful.  

Sittenfeld's tone through most of the book mimics Austen's almost perfectly, and the book is, overall, a joy to read. 

It's been interesting to read present-day authors' diverse interpretations of four** of Jane's six novels, and I'm eager for the remaining two (Mansfield Park and Persuasion) to be adapted, although there's no indication when or if this will happen.

*Eligible, Chapter 1.

** Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope, Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid, and Emma by Alexander McCall Smith, are the others.

FTC Full Disclosure:  Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for providing me with an e-galley to review.  

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