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Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible Curtis Sittenfeld April 19 1Eligible is a well written and clever modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  In Sittenfeld’s version, instead of England, the Bennet family’s childhood home is in Cincinnati, but some of the daughters now live in New York City and other family lives in California.  It is much faster to travel by air than it was to travel at all in Jane Austen’s time, and the multiple locations add to the interest of this novel.  Sittenfeld writes with wit and wisdom, as does Austen.  Most of the former author’s characters have the same names and the same temperament as the latter’s. 

But, Eligible stands on its own as a novel.  The five unmarried sisters range in age from 40 to 23.  Meeting and dating may be through friends or clubs, in bars, online, or any of the ways of the 21st century.  The men include doctors (Fitzwilliam Darcy is one), a reality-TV star, a publisher, and the owner of a CrossFit gym.  The women include a journalist, a yoga instructor, a business executive, and unemployed CrossFit enthusiasts.  The characters are more experienced in the ways of the world than were Austen’s characters, and some of them are older, but they are not more emotionally wise, nor do most of them have more common sense.  Sittenfeld reimagines the characters and gives them voices appropriate for our times.  Romance and complicated relationships abound. 

Read Eligible to read Curtis Sittenfeld, not to read Jane Austen.  If you want to read more modern retellings of classic fiction written by accomplished authors,  for another Jane Austen work try Emma: a Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith, or for Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, set in a future sci-fi world, try Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn.

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