Thursday, May 19, 2016

 Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld | Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

Fans of Jane Austen, rejoice! Fans of Curtis Sittenfeld? Bonus rejoice. Double rejoice. All the rejoice. How many times can I say rejoice in my review before one of you lot reaches through my laptop screen to slap me a bit? Okay, I’m calm now. Kind of. It’s no secret that this little (little?) guy was at the tip top of my most anticipated this year and that’s for two reasons.

One: I love Jane Austen. A lot. And retellings of her work can be pretty gnarly. Did I say gnarly? I’m sorry.

Two: I love Curtis Sittenfeld.

Like… a lot.

Honestly, are you guys ready for this one? Because this review has been ages in the making for me and I wanted to get it just right. But sometimes words don’t do anything justice and even though this wasn’t my favorite release of the year, I sure did enjoy it. I have a lot of feelings for this novel–this beast of a novel, I should say.


First: Eligible is a bit of a time commitment and there’s no way of working around that.

Sittenfeld has a way with words that makes even the longest of passages seem breezy and remains one of those authors that I would literally read a grocery list by. If you are a fan of her writing, but not a fan of Jane Austen, you’re still going to enjoy it. Because there’s just an air to the story that is delicious and fun and inexplicable.

Second, the topic. The retelling. The story to end all stories which will always be huge in our hearts.
Our most beloved romance that never fails to connect with readers of all ages and generations. Where to begin? When touching a classic that is as beloved as Pride & Prejudice, there’s going to be a few hitches in the plan. I, myself, am a sucker for these takes but have only truly loved a handful of them: Eligible, happily, is one of those few.

We’ve seen countless retellings of this story and it may get tiring a good chunk of the time. But this take on the Bennett family is fresh and modern. I enjoyed seeing a modern Liz and Jane and the rest of them. Pride & Prejudice is one of those rare classics that is timeless and that you can literally put the characters in almost any situation and it still works.

Eligible, my friends, fucking works. Curtis Sittenfeld takes a very familiar tale and spins it into something different but still generic; the real praise comes in how she develops her characters and how quickly they grow on us. Austen had a very similar trait when it came down to the characters of Pride & Prejudice and seeing someone else take their spin in her shoes is undeniably satisfying.

I don’t think that Eligible would have worked had it been penned by any author besides Sittenfeld. I daresay that she is the best of her generation of writers and it’s a delight to see her stories told in the way that they are.

Overall, this is a very familiar story with different twists and paths and settings. Diehard fans of Jane Austen may have only lukewarm feelings towards Eligible but for those of us who are simply here to enjoy the ride, we’ll feel differently.

Filled with richly imperfect characters, love and a general thoughtful narration, Eligible hits all the right mark in the realm of retellings. It is the perfect summertime read and will leave its audience feeling bubbly and cheering on this version of Liz and Darcy. How could we not root for the two, no matter the format, to wind up together?

Eligible is a delight from start to finish in my eyes and totally worth a read.

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